Basketball Coaching (index)

Become a member!

HomeBasketball Press Defense2-2-1 Half Court Press

See this page's Flash animation!

Basketball Defense - 2-2-1 Half Court Press

By James Gels, from the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook, @

This trapping half-court press can be especially effective against teams with mediocre, inexperienced guards. Remember, any trapping defense always carries some risk of giving up the easy weak-side lay-up.

Set up as in Diagram A.
Two defenders are at the half court line (X1 and X2). X3 and X4 are positioned near the three-point arc. X5 is positioned in the middle near the free throw line. We like to have someone at this position at all times to cut off the center pass.

Our guards (X1 and X2) will meet the ball at half-court and try to force him/her to move to one side (away from the middle). As the ball moves to the side, the defenders shift also toward that side (see Diagram A).

2-2-1 half-court press defense 2-2-1 half-court press defense

In this example, the ball is being dribbled toward the right sideline. X4 will come up and will stop the sideline penetration, with X1 completing the trap. X2 has dropped down toward the three-point line and X5 moves out a little toward the corner, while X3 moves to the middle (see Diagram B). Notice that we still have a 2-2-1 configuration at this point.

X2 and X5 try to position themselves in the gap between two offensive players, and are concentrating on the pass interception. X3 moves in front of any offensive player that moves into the center at the free throw line, and denies that pass.

See diagram C. If the ball is passed across court to the opposite sideline, X2 and X3 should create the trap, with X1 moving to the top of the three-point arc (X2's former position), X5 moving to the ball-side, and X4 moving quickly to the middle (X3's previous position).

2-2-1 half-court press defense - left side 2-2-1 half-court press defense - left side

If the ball is passed into the corner (Diagram D), X5 will move out to cover it, while X4 will move to the ball-side low block. At this point, I would move into either your man-to-man defense or a standard zone defense, such as a 1-2-2 zone. You can continue trapping using this zone defense, as outlined on that page.

Helpful DVDs:

Coach Donovan teaches the matchup press

Billy Donovan: Mastering the Full-Court Match-Up Press
with Billy Donovan, University of Florida Head Coach; 2007 & 2006 NCAA Champions, 2000 NCAA Runner-up; One of only two people ever to serve as head coach, assistant coach, and player in a Final Four
This defense has been the cornerstone of one of the most successful coaches and programs in the country. Coach Donovan walks you through his 2-2-1 full-court man press with stunting, and the 1-2-1-1 pressure defense. Using on-court demonstration and game film Donovan details each player's responsibilities, when and how to trap, and transitional coverage once the press has been broken. Included are basic coverages for all press breaks and breakdown drills... (more info)

Price: $39.99
Buy Now

Coach Pitino teaches the matchup press and much more!

Rick Pitino 4-Pack (including the Matchup Press)
with Rick Pitino, University of Louisville Head Coach; former University of Kentucky Head Coach, NCAA Championship and three Final Four appearances; former NBA Head Coach (Boston Celtics and New York Knicks)
This is a two-disk set with four sections, including the Press Defense, Offense (Ball Handling), Offense (Shooting Skills + Fast Breaks), and Man-to-Man Defense. Coach Pitino explains how the press works at all levels of basketball, how pressing basketball can force turnovers, and confuse and fatigue opponents. Also shown are how to create shots with pressure basketball and when to use the press. A variety of teaching progressions explain how fouling negates hustle, the 1-2-1-1 all out steal press, and the match up press. Included among the several drills are 1-on-1 full court, 2-on-2, 3-on-3, 4-on-4, and much more... (more info)

Price: $79.99
Buy Now

Copyright © 2001 - 2016, James A. Gels, all rights reserved.