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Basketball Offense - 5-Out Zone Offense

By James Gels, from the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook, @
You have a small team with no big post players. So you decide to run the 5-out, or open post offense. The open post offense works well against man-to-man defense, but you also need a 5-out zone offense to attack the 2-3 zone defense. You could use Coach Sar's open post "double-up" offense against either man-to-man or zone defenses.

Or, take a look at the 5-out zone offense below, which creates movement, has continuity, and is very simple and easy to learn. Of course, our five quick, small players are always going to try to speed the game up, full-court press, get the fast-break going and score in transition, before the zone defense is set.

See the diagrams below. Notice that we are in a 5-out set vs the 2-3 zone. O1 passes to either wing. We like to reverse the ball once or twice. A skip pass to the opposite wing (O4 in diagram B) sets things up very nicely as the zone is over-shifted and the bottom outside defender often will come out initially to defend the wing who receives the skip pass.

Ball on the wing.

Whenever the ball goes to a wing, we flash the opposite wing (O5) into the high post (free-throw line area). It's amazing how often this pass is wide open for a quick shot. I think sometimes the low defenders get lulled to sleep because we don't have any post players inside for them to defend. And, there is no high post player initially to defend, so they may forget about denying the high post pass. Whatever the case, this pass and shot is often open.

5-out zone offense - Ball on the wing 5-out zone offense - skip pass 5-out zone offense - wing high post cut

If the middle low defender (X5) comes up to defend the shot, we may have a bounce pass to the ball-side corner (O2) cutting to the hoop (diagram C) especially if we have caught the outside low defender (X4) defending our wing or slow in rotating back inside. Notice that the opposite corner (O3) rotates up to the vacated wing spot.

Ball in the corner.

Now, if the pass to the high post is denied, the wing (O4) could pass to the corner (O2 in diagram D). When the ball goes to the corner, the high post cutter (O5) then cuts to the ball-side block for a possible pass from the corner. If the pass is not there, O5 rotates out to the opposite corner, while O3 rotates up the wing.

5-out zone offense - Ball in the corner 5-out zone offense - wing skip pass 5-out zone offense - opposite wing high post cut

Now, if the ball goes back to the wing (O4 in diagram E), O4 could reverse the ball back to O1, and then O1 passes to the opposite wing (O3)... or O4 could skip pass directly to O3. Now we have all the same options available, just on the opposite side. O4 will flash to the high post.

Ball in the high post.

The pass from the high post to the opposite wing (diagram G) is usually a good, safe option. This could result in an open 3-point shot from the wing (O2), or a pass from O2 to O3 cutting underneath (diagram H). If neither the shot nor the pass to O3 is there, O3 moves out to the ball-side corner.

5-out zone offense - Ball in the high post 5-out zone offense - feed the low post 5-out zone offense - wing options

O4 cuts through (diagram I) and could get the pass from O2. Otherwise, O2 passes back out on top to O1. O4 rotates back out to the opposite corner and we are back in our 5-out set.

  • Keep the ball moving.
  • O1 will mostly anchor and run the offense from the top, but can exchange with a wing.
  • Ball on the wing, opposite wing flashes to the high post.
  • Ball in the high post, ball-side corner cuts inside, opposite corner fills vacated wing spot.
  • Ball in the corner, high post cutter cuts through to the hoop and then rotates out to opposite corner.
  • Four offensive rebounders with O1 on top as our safety.

Helpful DVD's...

Bob Knight: Encyclopedia of Zone Offense

Bob Knight: Encyclopedia of Zone Offense
with Bob Knight, former head coach at Texas Tech and Indiana University; Over 900 career wins, 3X National Championship Coach, Five Final 4 appearances; 4X National Coach of the Year;1984 US Men's Olympic Coach (Gold Medal)

Bob Knight opens his championship playbook and shows you how to beat zone defenses. Using the same concepts he used to amass over 900 career wins and three national titles, Knight doesn't just coach his zone offense, he teaches it.

In this on-court clinic presentation, Coach Knight teaches you everything you need to know about playing against a zone defense.... (more info)

Price: $119.99
Buy Now

Coach Izzo teaches his 1-3-1 set for attacking zone defenses

Tom Izzo: The 1-3-1 Zone Offense
with Tom Izzo, Michigan State University Men's Basketball Head Coach, 2000 NCAA Champs, 3X National "Coach of the Year"
Get an insider's view into the Michigan State playbook with this fantastic DVD instructed by Coach Tom Izzo. These set plays have led Tom Izzo and his program to one NCAA National Championship title, four Final Fours, and eight NCAA appearances in his ten years as a Division I head coach. Coach Izzo has won 77% of his games utilizing these set plays. This video will demonstrate ways to take advantage of any type of zone defense... (more info)

Price: $39.99
Buy Now

Coach Self teaches how to attack zone defenses

Bill Self: "Basic" and "Motion" 3-Out 2-In Zone Offenses
with Bill Self, University of Kansas Head Coach; 2008 NCAA Champions
Bill Self focuses on seven principles for effective zone offense and teaches you the Jayhawks' "basic" and "motion" 3-Out 2-In Zone Offense. He walks you through the necessary techniques of both the perimeter and post players such as quick ball movement, skip passing, lob passing, utilizing the short corner and using high/low motion. Self also demonstrates drills that any coach at any level can use to enhance the continuity in the zone offense. He discusses responsibilities and reads and demonstrates the cuts, screens and movement for every position. As a bonus, Self also includes a handful of quick-hitter plays and out-of-bounds baseline plays... (more info)

Price: $39.99
Buy Now

Coach Boeheim teaches zone offense

Jim Boeheim's Complete Guide to Zone Offense
with Jim Boeheim, Head Coach, Syracuse University, 2003 NCAA Champions!!
Coach Boeheim, one of the most respected minds on the zone and match-up zone defense, now shares on video, for the first time ever, his views on how to take advantage of any zone defense. Coach Boeheim's zone offensive principles are simple: ball movement, man movement, and patience. He uses each of these principles in teaching a zone offense which can be run against a 2-3, 3-2, 1-3-1, and match-up zone (odd or even fronts). He combines chalkboard instruction with on-court demonstration and game clips. In addition, he covers the techniques necessary to effectively attack any zone with these offenses that include... (more info)

Price: $39.99
Buy Now

Coach K teaches how to attack zone defenses

Mike Krzyzewski: Duke Basketball Attacking the Zone
with Mike Krzyzewski "Coach K", Duke University Head Men's Basketball Coach; NABC "Coach of the Decade," 12X NABC "Coach of the Year," Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2001), 5X NCAA National Championships
In an energetic and information-packed on-court presentation, Coach Krzyzewski explains the zone offense and principles he uses in attacking a half-court zone defense. Krzyzewski believes the secret to effective zone offense is to keep it simple by running one highly effective offense that can be utilized against even the most potent defenses. Coach Krzyzewski has designed a zone offense that is easy to implement and impossible to stop! In addition, Coach K shares the five major components... (more info)

Price: $44.99
Buy Now

Geno Auriemma: The Simplified Zone Offense

Geno Auriemma: The Simplified Zone Offense
Head Women's Coach UConn, 2015 NCAA Championship Coach; 10x NCAA Women's Basketball National Championships; 8X National "Coach of the Year"
In an exciting on-court presentation, Coach Auriemma teaches simple strategies for beating a zone defense that are easy to implement and impossible to stop! Auriemma provides drills, strategies and player positioning to help your perimeter and post players beat the zone. He demonstrates a 3-2 Zone Offense and a 1-3-1 Zone Offense that include similar principles, but will confuse your opponents. In addition, Coach Auriemma also gives you eight quick-hitter zone plays... (more info)

Price: $39.99
Buy Now

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