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Basketball Defense - 2-2-1 Half Court Press

By Dr. James Gels, from the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook
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This trapping half-court press can be effective against teams with mediocre, inexperienced guards. Remember, any trapping defense always carries some risk of giving up the easy weak-side lay-up.

Initial Set-up (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) meet the ball at half-court and force it to one side. 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 dribbled toward the right sideline. X4 comes up and stops the sideline penetration, completing the trap with X1. X2 has dropped down toward the three-point line and X5 moves out a little toward the corner, while X3 moves to the middle (diagram B). Notice that we still have a 2-2-1 configuration at this point.

X2 and X5 position themselves in the gap between two offensive players, looking to intercept. X3 fronts any offensive player that moves into the high post at the free throw line, and denies that pass.

If the ball is passed across court to the opposite sideline (diagram C), X2 and X3 create the trap, with X1 moving to the top of the three-point arc (X2's former position). X5 moves ball-side, and X4 moves 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 moves out to cover it, while X4 moves to the ball-side low block. At this point, go into your man-to-man defense or zone defense. You can continue trapping the sideline and baseline using your normal defense.