Zone Reads & Counters

What to Discover or Recall . . .

In every type of zone there are some shifts that are difficult. These are the shifts you what your players to be aware of and exploit.

Against man to man defenses, players are expected to "read" and counter defensive deployment. However, when it comes to zone defenses, players cannot be expected to "read" the defensive deployment since it involves analyzing the movement of all five defensive players.

It is the coach's or an assistant coach's responsibility to constantly analyze and make adjustments against zone defenses.


Analyzing and Attacking Zone Shifts & Weaknesses

| 2-3 (2-1-2) Zones |1-2-2 (3-2) Zones | 1-3-1 Zones |

5 Stars

2-3 Zone Weakness

2-3 (2-1-2) Zone Reads & Counters

The 2-3 zone is strong along the baseline, but are very vulnerable to outside shooting.

Expand/Close

Things to Watch For

Watch the basic shifts of the baseline players. Can they cover the wings?

Do they contest post feeds? How do they cover the middle?

How fast do they rotate and closeout on ball reversals?

Attacking the Wings

Covering the weakside wing is a problem of two three zone. Usually a baseline player will step out and show until the guard can shift over; and then recovers back to the baseline. This vulnerability should be exploited. Since this shift involves different players on each side of the court, you want to attack the side which the show & recover shift is the weakest.

Wing Attack Wing Read B Wing Read C

Place your best shooters on the wings. Observe how the opponent is covering the wings. Do they rely on their two outside players? Do they rotate out a baseline players to cover the wings? Which baseline player rotates out the slowest? How quick do they rotate and recover? You want to attack the side of the weakest wing rotations.

Wing Read D

Anytime the baseline defender stays or is slow moving out, it creates a good opportunity for an open spot up three point shot.

Wing Read E

If/when the baseline player rotates out to cover the wing, it opens up the low post area for an easy inside shot.

Wing Read F

When the middle defender drops to help out against the baseline player, it opens up a post roll to the basket.

Out Numbered Situation

Wing Out Numbered A Win Out Numbered B Wing Out Numbered C

When the opponent keep their baseline players inside and cover the wings with just their outside players, play three on two and move the ball. Maintain proper spacing. When defender X2 covers the point O1 and X1 covers O2, it leaves O3 wide open. If X2 guards O3 and X1 moves over to cover O1, it leaves shooter O2 open. If/when X1 and X2 stay out on the wings it opens up O1 at the top of the circle.

Post Ups

Read Post A Read Post B Read Post C

Although the 2-3 zone alignment appears to be strong in the middle, the real strength is contingent on the defender and not the alignment. Analyze the defensive ability and capability of the middle defender. Can they be readily posted up? How do they cover flashes into the middle? How do they match up against a high post.

The majority of zone post defenders play upright and behind. They do a poor job of contesting post feeds and passing lanes. When the defense plays behind, the offensive post is going to score, get foul or both. Isolate the middle defender by moving your best offensive post inside and get them ball.

Offensive Rebounding & Second Efforts

Determine which of the two baseline defenders is the weakest rebounder. Can you take offensive rebounding advantage of them by creating a mismatch by placing a strong rebounder on that side? Attack the side of the strongest rebounder. It is better to have them playing on ballside or guarding a shooter rather than being on the weakside in position to rebound.

Offensive Alignments

1-3-1 Alignment

1-3-1 Alignment

1-4 Alignment

1-4 Alignment

Stack Alignment

Stack Alignment

How will the 2-3 zone match up against the above offensive alignments?

 

 


5 Stars

1-2-2 Zone Weakness

1-2-2 (3-2) Zone Reads & Counters

The three two or 1-2-2 zone is strong against outside shooters. However, it is weak in the middle and in the corners where their two baseline players have to guard corner to corner.

Expand/Close

Things To Watch For

1-2-2 zones weak are vulnerable to inside and baseline attacks.

Watch the basic shifts of the two baseline players. Can they cover the corners?

Do they contest low post feeds?

How do they cover the middle? How fast do they rotate and closeout on ball reversal?

Strong Post Ups

Post Read A Post Read B

The majority of zone post defenders play upright and behind. They do a poor job of contesting post feeds and passing lanes. Attack the weakest of the two baseline defenders. Move your best post up player to that side of the court. Get the ball inside. When the defense plays behind, the offensive post is going to score, get foul or both.

Attacking the Middle

Read Mid A Read Mid B Read Mid C

The 1-2-2 zone has a big hole in the middle. Observe how the opponent is protecting the middle. Do they rely on their baseline players? Do they collapse their outside players opening up skip passes and outside shots? How do they defend post flashes and high post alignments?

Corner Shots

Read Corner A Read Corner B Read Corner C

Corner shots. 1-2-2 is susceptible to corner shots. Watch the baseline defenders. How do they close out on corner shots? How fast do they recover back into the low post area? Attack the weakest player by placing your best corner shooter on that side of the court. Peripheral passers should also be alert to baseline rotations. Any time a defender is slow in recovering back into the low post area it opens up an opportunity for an easy inside shot.

Wing Drops

Read Wing A Read Wing B Read Wing C

Observe how the wing defenders shift. Do they drop all the way to the baseline? Do they close out quickly? In a 1-2-2 zone, when the ball is on wing or in corner, the weakside wing drops to the baseline and has primary rebounding responsibility. Determine which of the defensive wings is the smallest and weakest rebounder. Can you take offensive rebounding advantage of them by creating a mismatch by placing a big player on the weakside boards? Also, be alert for the cross court or "X" pass opportunity when the weakside wing does not drop or is slow in dropping to the baseline

Offensive Rebounding & Second Efforts

Determine which of the baseline defenders is the weakest rebounder. Can you take offensive rebounding advantage of them by creating a mismatch by placing a strong rebounder on that side? Think about attacking the side of the court that the strongest rebounderis positioned. It is better to have them playing on ballside or guarding a shooter rather than being on the weakside in position to rebound.

Offensive Alignments

1-3-1 Alignment

1-4 Alignment

1-4 Alignment

Stack Alignment

Stack Alignment

How will the specific 1-2-2 zone match up against various offensive alignments?

 


5 Stars

1-3-1 Zone Weaknesses

1-3-1 Zone Reads & Counters

The 1-3-1 zone is strong down the middle and across the free throw line extended. However, they are vulnerable to baseline and corner shots.

Expand/Close

Things to Watch For

Watch the shifts of the baseline player. Does one player cover both corners or do they alternate with the high post player?

Do they contest low post feeds?

Can they handle high post rolls?

How fast do they rotate and closeout on ball reversal?

Attacking the Baseline

Read Base A Read Base B Read Base C

Watch the basic shifts of the baseline player. Can they cover the corners? Do they rely on one player to cover both corners? Do the middle and baseline defender switch roles on ball reversals? If so, does it makes them vulnerable in the middle? Do they employ wing drops to cover the corner? Place your best shooters in the corners and attack the side of the weakest rotations.

Post Ups

Although the 1-3-1 zone alignment appears strong in the middle, the real strength is contingent on the defender and not the alignment. Analyze the defensive ability and capability of the baseline defender. Can they be readily posted up? How do they cover flashes into the middle? How do they match up against a high post?

Post A Read Post B Read Post C

The majority of zone post defenders play upright and behind. They do a poor job of contesting post feeds and passing lanes. When the defense plays behind, the offensive post is going to score, get foul or both. Isolate the middle defender by moving your best offensive post inside and get them ball.

Baseline Screens

Read Screen A Read Screen B Read Screen C

The 1-3-1 zone is very susceptible to baseline screens.

High Post Entry and Skip Passes

ead HP A Read HP B Read HP C

How do they cover the middle? Do they contest high post feeds? The 1-3-1 Zone also has problems matching up against a 2-1-2 offensive alignment. Anytime the ball is passed into the high post it immediately creates a three on two situation and the post should look to feed the open player on the baseline. The skip pass is also an import weapon. Players should constantly be looking to make a skip pass to the opposite corner especially when in trouble. Against a 1-3-1 zone the opposite corner will be always open.

Learn More  Cat Spread Offense

Ball Reversals

Ball reversal is a key to attacking the baseline. Observe how the weakside wing shifts. Do they drop all the way to the baseline? How quick do they rotate and closeout? In a 1-3-1 zone, when the ball is on wing or in corner, the weakside wing drops to the baseline and has primary rebounding responsibility. Determine which of the defensive wings is the smallest and weakest rebounder. Can you take offensive rebounding advantage of them by creating a mismatch by placing a big player on the weakside boards? Also, be alert for the cross court or skip pass opportunity when the weakside wing drops to the baseline.

Read Wing A

When the weakside wing defender drops down to the baseline, it opens up an opportunity for quick ball reversal or a skip pass to open O2.

Read Wing B

If the wing recovers to the ball, it opens up the low post area for an easy inside shot.

Read Wing C

When the middle defender drops to help out against the baseline player, it opens up the middle of the zone.

Offensive Rebounding & Second Efforts

Determine which of the baseline defenders is the weakest rebounder. Can you take offensive rebounding advantage of them by creating a mismatch by placing a strong rebounder on that side? Think about attacking the side of the court that the strongest rebounderis positioned. It is better to have them playing on ballside or guarding a shooter rather than being on the weakside in position to rebound.

Learn More  Offensive Rebounding Techniques

Offensive Alignments

2-1-2 Alignment

2-1-2 Alignment

1-4 Alignment

1-4 Alignment

Stack

Stack Alignment

How will the specific 1-3-1 zone match up against the above offensive alignments?