Newsletter #168

September 4, 2019


Today's Quote:  "A good zone looks like a man-to-man..."

Today's Theme... Zone Defense 


1.  A zone can help against mis-matches when your team lacks the quickness or size to defend opponent players m2m. 

2.  No lay-ups. You can protect the paint area and force the opponent to shoot from outside.

3.  Using a zone may help prevent foul trouble.

4.  Slow the game and control the tempo with a zone.

5.  Opponents become impatient against the zone and often rush shots.

6.  Most youth and high school players are just average passers and have difficulty making good inside passes and accurate skip passes.

7.   By changing defenses, you can keep the offense off-balance and confused.

8.  If you press, after the press is broken, it is easy to drop back into a zone defense.

9.  Compared to man-to-man offenses, there are far fewer zone offenses to contend with, and zone defense can easily be adapted to counter the opponent's star player(s).


1.  If your team is behind, you won't get enough pressure on the ball, and the offense can eat up a lot of time by holding the ball for a good shot. 

2.  If the opponent is having a good shooting night, you must consider going to the man-to-man to get pressure on the ball.

3.  There are not always clear-cut rebounding box-out assignments and sometimes the offensive player will slip inside for the offensive rebound and lay-up.  See Zone Rebounding for help with this.

4.  If you play zone most of the time, and rarely man-to-man, your players may lose their man-to-man defensive skills.  Youth players must learn to play man defense.

Basic Pointers for all Zone Defenses:

1. No lay-ups. Keep the ball outside. Double-team the ball in the paint.

2. Be vocal, talk to each other.

3. Move quickly, adjust your position relative to the movement of the ball. Move quickly on the flight of the ball, as soon as it leaves the passer's hands.

4. Get your hands up and out, to shrink the passing lanes.

5. Close-out on the shooter with high hands, to pressure the shot and the pass. We are less concerned with dribble-penetration since the zone creates too much congestion inside for the dribble-drive.

6. Stay in your defensive stance. This is especially important for weakside defenders. The weakside low defender should keep his "butt to the baseline" so that he can see the floor, and see any cutters or screeners coming his way, etc.

7. No fouls... play good defense without fouling.

8. No second shots... block out and rebound.

9. When the offense dribble penetrates, quickly close the gap.

10. Get to know your opponent and adjust. Over-protect against the best shooters, or the "hot" shooter, and sag off the guy who never shoots.

11. Trap the corners.

12. Especially if you are ahead, don't gamble or get too aggressive in trapping the wing and point guard positions. Keep pressure on the ball, but also protect the paint and force the outside, low-percentage shot.

  See:  Zone Defense


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