The Basketball Full Court Press

Basketball Pressing Defense
Full Court Basketball Zone Press Defense
By Brad Winters

It’s my feeling that if you have a good zone press and/or man-to-man press; your team will always be in the game and often will rally. The greater the team speed, the larger the area of the court over which the defense may be exerted.

[Related: Playbook Basketball]

The key to the successful man-to-man press is the guards. The full-court press will be effective with great speed and agility at this position. With something short of these qualities, the half-court man-to-man or the zone press can be brought into play with equal effectiveness.

The zone press requires a smaller degree of specialization than the man-to-man press and it’s possible to operate an effective zone press with less defense ability. The zone press affords the coach the opportunity to “hide” some slow moving personnel (not too many, however) and still get an effective job done. Of course, the zone press will operate most effectively with top notch personnel (basketball defensive system).

Basketball Zone Press
Basic Basketball Player's Alignment

Again, it’s my feeling that if you use the basic alignment of the 3-1-1 zone press and teach one set of rules and movements you can vary it enough for four or five different presses. You could use the bigger men up front on the full-court zone and the smaller men on the 3-1-1 half-court press.

This full-court press could simply be moved back towards midcourt in order to stop the passes going to the corners near midcourt. In other words, the flexibility of the 3-1-1 press has allowed you to shorten the press passes.

The press is not by any means easy to teach and you could become disappointed easily. However, the coach must have patience, know it thoroughly, and work hard at it. Eventually, the players will get the idea, like it and run it well. There are many holes in any zone press and it can always be beaten on paper, but actually doing it is something else. Give your opponents something to worry about throughout the season after you have prepared it well.

Basketball Press Defense
Press Basketball Coaching Strategy

There should be an all-out effort by each man on the court.

Each player should expend all energy to achieve victory.

The personal development of each player should be considered.

All-out hustle is necessary for a pressing type defense.

Coaches must teach defense every day regardless of the previous experience of the player.

The coach must be convinced that the type of defense used is the best for his situation and this must be sold to the players – who must believe that they can win with the defense.

Defense can make up for sub-par material.

Defense slogans and posters should be used to develop the proper attitude.

Basketball Full-Court Pressing Defense
Advantages of the Full Court Basketball Press

It hinders shooting and constantly keeps the offense off balance.

The press is especially effective against screening, pattern, and zone teams.

It makes a boy a much better basketball player by developing his abilities to potential.

It makes for a more versatile player than the one who has backed up and played zone or man-to-man.

The press forces the best players into mistakes.

Coaches of opponents playing a pressing team spend three-quarters of their practice sessions trying to combat it. It disrupts their practices entirely.

Your players really love to play a pressing game – they take great pride in their ability to press.

It makes for great teamwork and conditioning.

If your offense is having a bad night, your defense will carry you.

The press is offense within itself. It takes pressure off your offense.

It gives a sub-par shooter a chance to play because of his defensive ability.

It teaches a player to make a quick change from offense to defense.

A pressing defense makes a boy more alert because it gives him more freedom and reduces tension.

You can use more boys in the lineup – which is always good for morale.

Basketball Full Court Pressing Defense
Disadvantages Full Court Basketball Press

A pressing defense will commit more fouls than usual.

When pressing all over the floor you leave more room for the opponent’s maneuver.

If one man fails to carry out his assignment, you have defeated your purpose.

A pressing team must have adequate reserve power.

A player becomes exhausted quicker pressing than he does with any other defense.

A team must have average or better speed and agility to press effectively.

Some coaches just don’t have the personnel to press.

A good ball-handling team is hard to press – also, true if a team has an outstanding dribbler.

Situations Calling for the Full-Court Press
More Basketball Coaching Strategy

When trailing in the latter part of the game.

Against a poorly conditioned team.

Against a weak ball-handling team.

Against a team that uses a slow and deliberate attack and you want to speed up the tempo.

Especially effective against inexperienced teams.

As a surprise element.

When you are blessed with 10 or 12 average or better players.

When you have a small team and you’re trying to offset the other team’s height.

After free throws and at the close of a quarter.

When players are tight or to give the opponent something to think about.

Before half-time to give the opponent something to think about.

To counteract an opponent’s press.

Basketball Pressing Tactics
Basketball Coaching Points to Emphasize

Don’t allow the dribbler to penetrate the perimeter of the zone, nor the ball to be passed into the middle.

Don’t allow the ball to reach the high post at the top of the circle or foul line.

Never allow the ball in the low post position for a lay-up.

Always have two men on the ball and three others in front of the ball.

Ball – get the ball but do not foul.

Tip – tip the ball back into play if you can’t intercept – at least get a hand in there without fouling.

Arrive – be there at the same time the opponent and ball arrive, and stop him.

Close – close in on him, contain and control him, and force him to the sidelines before help arrives.

Team Basketball Zone Press
Basketball Player Responsibilities

Point Man or #1 Position:

Guide the direction of a pass or the dribbler to a position favorable to the defense.

Double up on the man in possession when the ball is on the front line to your left or right.

Protect the middle area of the press when the ball is on the sides or in deep position.

Anticipate and deflect or intercept passes at any position on the court as the “drifter.”

Wing Man or #2 and #3 Positions:

Guide the direction of the dribbler into the front pocket.

Prevent the short loop pass over the front line position.

Double up on the man with the ball when he’s on your side of the court at the side or corner position.

Protect under the basket area when the ball is in the opposite corner.

Rebound aggressively when under the basket.

Floater or #4 Position:

Prevent pass to high post position to the rear of front line.

Double up on man with the ball at side-court position.

Protect deep lane position when ball is in corners.

Rebound aggressively.

Back Man or #5 Position:

Protect under the basket area against the long or short lay-up pass.

Prevent direct pass to low positions.

Move out to corner and double up on man with ball in either corner.

Rebound aggressively.

Full Court Zone Press Drills
Basketball Practice Drills

Tag Basketball Drill: Without the ball, the offensive man runs full court trying not to be tagged. If tagged in the chest by the defensive man, he must retreat five yards and start to run and dodge again up court.

NOTE: Stress a good defensive position.

Double-Teaming Basketball Drill: Two chasers close in on the dribbler forcing him to pick up his dribble. Fundamentals of double-teaming are then stressed.

EXAMPLE: For example, obstruct but never grab for the ball, knee to knee, hands always moving in direction of the ball.

3-on-2 Basketball Drill: As soon as the pass comes in, get a quick double-team; the wing must make sure he fronts the second man and never lets him get it back.

NOTE: Fundamentals of double-teaming are stressed. Don’t let the dribbler split the double-team. The drill ends when, and if, the guards get to midcourt.

Sideline Double-Team Basketball Drill: Double-team set at midcourt and the deep corner as the ball is passed down the sideline.

Midcourt Double-Team Basketball Drill: One player in the middle has the ball – is double-teamed quickly and passes to the next line – and the double-team is formed as soon as the ball is secured. Never allow the defense to reach in; if they do, blow the whistle and stop the drill.

Interceptor Basketball Drill: The back man overplays on the ball side of the court and must react by covering against the full-court pass to either corner.

Weakside Help Basketball Drill: As soon as the ball passes the front line, the weakside wing man retreats fast to stay in front of the ball. He must ultimately arrive under the basket to prevent an easy lay-up.

Overall Movement Basketball Drill: Under the rules of zone press responsibilities, players move in unison according to the movements of the ball.

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