11 Rules For Attacking A 1-3-1 Zone Defense

Teams throw different defenses at an opponent for three main reasons:

1. It's there main type of defense

2. They don't think your guards can handle something different.

3. They need to change the course of the game somehow.

If the opposing coaches throws a 1-3-1 zone at you after a timeout don’t let it beat you this season by using the 11 rules outlined below. 

11 Rules For Attacking A 1-3-1 Zone Defense

Before you read through the 11 rules make sure it becomes a priority for every player on your team to know these rules. Once every member of the team has a good understanding of how to attack the 1-3-1 zone defense you'll be poised for great success no matter when the zone is used during a game.

  1. Push The Ball
    Don’t allow the zone to get set up. Pass the ball up and attack right away.
  2. Take The Ball Into The Zone
    Too often players stand on the outside and pass the ball around. Attack the zone and make them make decisions.
  3. Use Ball Reversals
    Quick ball reversals is a great way to shift players in the zone and open passing lanes to give you an advantage.
  4. Make The Zone Collapse
    Get the ball in the middle of the zone off the dribble or the pass. Once teh zone collapses look to pass the ball out to the perimeter.
  5. Attack The Gaps & Draw Two Defenders
    Attack the gaps and know where the kick out pass needs to go. Defenders can’t guard the drive and the kick out at the same time.
  6. Flatten The Zone
    Bring the ball down to the baseline with the dribble or with the pass. As the ball moves lower so will the zone.
  7. Overload One Side
    Defenders in zones all have their responsibilities. Put the defense in a position to have to make decision as to who they should guard.
  8. Use Screens
    Ball screens, pin down screens, and cross screens all work well against zones as the zone shifts on the pass.
  9. Keep Good Spacing
    Keep players 12-15 ft. apart. This spacing will allow for defenders to scramble to make the coverage, any closer and the defense can guard both players.
  10. Use High Post and Short Corners
    Post players can collapse the defense and flatten it out. They also give you the chance to draw a foul and score near the basket.
  11. Misdirect With Eyes and Ball Fakes
    Since players know where the zone is at all times they can easily misdirect the defense by looking one way and passing another or making solid pass fakes.

The first part of attacking any zone defense is giving your players the knowledge they need to be successful. This is very different then giving them a play to run. If the play breaks down or doesn't work what are your players going to do? Well, without knowing the rules of attacking a zone they will panic. This will cause you to have to call a timeout to regroup and you shouldn't have to do this. Make sure your zone offense isn't holding your team back from getting the win.

You can also dive deeper into how you attack a zone defense by learning the 15 rules for attacking any zone defense below.

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