Newsletter #164

July 10, 2019


Today's Quote:  "The best man defense looks like a zone and the best zone defense looks like a man."

Today's Theme... The 4-1 Chameleon Defense

This half-court defense is a "special" or "junk" defense, so you would not base your entire defense on this scheme, but use it in special situation.

Why use the 4-1 defense?
  • It confuses the offense. The first thing the offense does is try to find out what defense you are in so they can get in the proper offense. With this defense nobody knows.
  • It's great after a timeout. When the opponent calls a timeout to draw up play, nobody has a 4-1 defense play.
  • You do not have to use all of this defense's variations to successfully use the 4-1 defense.

4-1 Defense Set-up

Line four defenders 2-3 steps above the free-throw line extended (diagram 1). This front line has to stand close enough together where they do not get split by a pass. We allow a few passes around the perimeter before we start trapping. Once the ball is passed to the corner, we are in our "Fire" defense. We want the ball skipped to the corner so we can trap and rotate.

Piston drill

4-1 "Fire"

As soon as O1 dribbles across half-court (diagram 2), our top defenders get "bouncy", stunting, trying to intimidate the offense. We want the ball skip-passed to a corner, where we trap. See page "4-1 Chameleon Defense" for the rotations and details.

Piston drill

4-1 "Blast"

When O1 dribbles across half-court, X1 and X2 sprint up to stop and double-team the ball (diagram 6). X3 and X4 deny the wing passes. X5 stunts the middle but does not actually deny the middle. If the ball is passed into O4 in the middle, X5 will play cat and mouse until the defense can recover.

Piston drill

We can start in the 4-1 setup, and then change to a zone or man-to-man on the first pass.

See "4-1 Chameleon Defense" for:

  • 4-1 to 2-3 Zone
  • 4-1 to 1-2-2 Zone
  • 4-1 to 1-3-1 Zone
  • 4-1 to 3-2 Zone
  • 4-1 to Man-to-Man

In summary, the 4-1 Chameleon defense is only used in special situations, like after a time-out, a quarter break, or perhaps a made free-throw. Use it to surprise and ambush the offense.


Coach's Clipboard Premium Membership - join today! Immediate online access, comprehensive downloadable playbook included with offenses, defenses, plays, drills, coaching and player tips, animated diagrams, video clips, mobile-ready, pdfs for print-outs, and more! More info...
Coaches... get a group membership (deeply discounted) for all your coaches!

Coach's Clipboard Premium Membership

Put in a new offense or defense this season.
Run a special inbounds or buzzer-beater play and look like a genius!
Use a special defense to shutdown a star player.
Teach your team how to break a press.


Email your comments or suggestions.

Coach's Clipboard, US copyright, 2019, James A. Gels

Coach's Clipboard, Box 126, Charlevoix, MI 49720

facebook linkedIn linkedIn