Zone defenses are designed to keep teams out of the paint and help provide rim protection for teams. They take away man to man principles and require players to defend a zone of the floor. Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim has become famous for his zone defense at Syracuse. Attacking a zone defense is different from attacking man to man defense. We will discuss some tips to successfully attacking a zone defense.
Before we get into the tips in breaking down a zone, let’s first understand basic zone principles. A coach will format his offensive players in accordance to the defensive zone. Players should position themselves in between the gaps (empty spots) of the zone defense in order to create high percentage shots. The use of ball fakes, shot fakes, and pass fakes can help create space against a zone. Passing high, low and looking opposite helps shift the defense and create openings. Against a zone, guards should typically continue to put the ball in motion until there is enough room to create an efficient play and post players should try to flash to the foul line when possible.
Now that we understand basic zone principles, here are 5 tips to breaking down a zone defense:
Always be in Triple Threat
This is the easiest concept, yet the most overlooked concept of beating a zone. Often times players pass the ball around the zone with the ball over their head, standing straight up. Defenses can relax when the offense is in that position. Playing in the triple threat position tells the defense you’re looking to make a play and not just pass the ball around.
Zone defense, like any defense, becomes easier to play when the ball sits in one place for a long period of time. By holding the ball, you’re allowing the defense to stand still and get comfortable. The key to successfully beating a good zone defense is by making the zone shift. The more ball reversals you have, the more times the zone must shift from side to side, creating openings for drives, passes and shots.
Similar to ball movement, zone defenses become much easier to play when the offensive players are stagnant. Constant movement on offense forces the defense to keep their head on a swivel and makes you much harder to guard. Simple cuts through the zone force defenders to take their attention off the ball momentarily and can open up scoring opportunities for your team.
Drive the Gaps
Zone defenses are typically designed to keep teams out of the paint and shoot from the perimeter. Getting the ball into the interior of the zone goes a long way to breaking down a zone defense. As stated earlier, a couple of ball reversals shifts the zone and open up driving lanes. On rare occasions, this can lead to you getting all the way to the rim, but penetrating a zone off the dribble will definitely lead to kick out threes and dump off passes for lay ups.
Utilize the High Post/Short Corners
Another key to breaking down a zone is to attack the soft spots of the zone; these are the high post and short corners. Having a player at the high post can help get easy ball reversals. When the ball reaches the high post, the player should look immediately towards opposite ends of the court to pass for an open shot or to an open player. When the ball is in the short corner, the guy in the high post should dive to the rim in order to occupy the backside of the zone and to create an open player and/or additional ball movement.
These five tips, though simple, can help you and your team break zone offenses this season.
What a tremendous weekend of basketball! With games going down to the final play & young student athletes competing their hearts out, my eyes were glued to the television. I am not only talking about the mens’ and women’s final four but the powerhouse Kevin Boyle program knocking off Oak Hill Academy (Va.), 71-62, in the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School National Tournament championship game at Madison Square Garden. The win made it the second consecutive national championship for Montverde Academy (Coach Boyle Interview). The future division one players, Ben Simmons (LSU) & D’Angelo Russell (Ohio State) controlled the game throughout for the Eagles with Simmons (24 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assists) earning the MVP. We all know the NBA players that Boyle has developed when he was in NJ, Kyrie Irving and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but since Coach Boyle has moved South his tread of producing high major college players hasn’t changed. Matter of fact two players that played for Montverde Academy last season appeared in final four in Dallas this past weekend (Kasey Hill for Florida and Dakari Johnson for Kentucky). There is no reason to believe that the 2014-15 season will be ANY different.
In the short clip above, Coach Boyle and his team is working on getting over and under a ball screen. This summer Hoop Group Skills offers 2 opportunities to work with Coach Boyle first hand. Both camps will help improve your ball-handling, play making ability, ball screen offense/defense, reading the defense, using jump stops & shot fakes and more importantly becoming a leader! The point guard position is the key to every successful team as they set the tone on every play & the four other players take on the personality of their point guard.
WORK WITH THE BEST IN THE BUSINESS!
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