A Simple Basketball Zone Offense

Basketball Offense for Attacking Zone Defenses
Zone Offense Basketball Coaching Tips

One of the most popular defenses in basketball is the zone defense (2-1-2 zone defense, 3-2 zone defense, 1-2-2 zone defense, and the 1-3-1 zone defense). To meet the challenges that zone defenses present, here is a simple zone offense that works great. This basketball zone offense is easy to teach in practice and works well against a variety of different zone defenses. This basketball zone offense also produces good ball movement, player movement, short quick passes, and high percentage shots.

[Related: Online Basketball Playbook]



Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs

Basketball Zone Offense Player Requirements

Below are the player requirements for each basketball player position.

Point Player: This basketball player should be a sharp passer and a good shooter from around the free-throw line. He must be able to get the shot away quickly. The point man must also be able to detect weaknesses in the basketball zone defense and be able to attack it while on the floor, without waiting for instructions from the bench.

Wing Players: These basketball players should be the best shooters on the team. If only one excellent shooter is available to you, place him on the right wing. These basketball players also will have to go to the boards when they are on the weak-side wing, so they must be capable of rebounding. Their basketball passing ability needs to be at least average.

Post Players: These two will have to be the primary rebounders and should be good shooters from about five to twelve feet from the basket. They must be alert and quick. If there is a marked difference between the two, put the better one on the right side and allow him and the best shooter to work together on the strong side.

Basketball Zone Offense Strategy

This basketball zone offense is predicted on moving the players and the ball into areas where the zone defense is not. We make moves along these lines and make the defense try to cover areas that they cannot get to as fast as we can with the ball. We stress the idea of floor balance and movement, and teach five basic basketball plays or maneuvers to key the offense.

First Zone Offense Basketball Play

The first move that we make – and probably the simplest – is to pass to the right wing, our best shooter, and have him work for the shot on the wing, while the low-post man on the strong side moves according to what his defensive man does. If the defender goes out to cover the shooter, we dump-back a pass to our strong-side, low-post basketball player for the shot. If the defense stays in to cover this man, we hit from the wing. All this makes the defense concerned about the offensive power of the wing shooters.

Second Basketball Zone Offense Play

Once we have established the offensive effectiveness of this first move, we make a change: the weak-side post player breaks into the middle of the lane. Usually each team played will attack this basketball zone offense differently, but most will send the top man on the side of the wing shooter to cover that man.

Options: As this happens, there develops a hole for the weak-side post player to break into and have a good shot or a dump-back pass to the strong-side post player rolling behind the defensive player to the basket. At times, you may have the zone defense collapse around the player with the ball, allowing a short pass to the wing player moving toward the basket for the shot.

Third Basketball Zone Play

Another basketball strategy move is to have the ball reversed to the weak-side. The pass back to the point man is the key to a move that requires a little patience but is most effective. As we reverse the ball to the left, the zone defense, having seen what happens to the play on the other side, will usually jump out very aggressively to prevent the play from developing there as it did on the right. To meet this defensive move, we have the low-post player on the new strong side move out from the lane to a wide-post position and receive a pass from the wing player. He looks for the dump-back pass to the low-post man on the new weak side moving into the spot he just vacated. Usually our low-post man will get the ball close enough for a good shot and basket.

Fourth Zone Offensive Basketball Play

When the defensive low-post player stays home and covers the offensive low-post player, another move results that offers a good high percentage shot. The low-post player on the strong-side turns in and picks (screens-in on the zone defense) the defensive man, while the offensive post player on the other side of the floor breaks along the baseline and sets up behind the screen for the shot.

Fifth Basketball Zone Offensive Play

In order to get the point player a good shot, as we have for all of the other players, we have the wing man and the low-post man on one side of the floor simply pick in (screen the zone defense) for him to drive for the shot off the picks. This will usually work a couple of times during the game.

Against basketball zone defense, this basketball zone offense features ten points that make it an advantageous one for all levels of basketball play:

It is extremely simple for any basketball level of play.

There is good basketball floor balance.

There is good basketball player movement.

This basketball zone offense works against a variety of even-front zone defenses.

This zone offense is easy to teach during basketball practice drills.

Good high percentage basketball shots will result.

Zone offense produces good inside and outside shoots.

There is good offensive rebounding strength inside.

This zone offense does not simply stand and shoot.

There is good use of the fundamental principles of basketball.

This basketball zone offense has produced results for coaches at all levels of play and will do the same for you using it in the prescribed manner. The term “unbeatable zone” may soon come to be the “unused zone.”

Recommend

The time when there is no one there to feel sorry for you or to cheer for you is when a player is made." -- Tim Duncan

Championship Basketball Playbook

Championship Basketball PlaybookComplete system needed to Excel as a basketball coach

Transition Offense
Motion Offense
Flex Offense
Zone Offense
Offensive Plays
Inbound Plays
Press Breaker Offense
Full-court Press Defenses
Zone Defenses
Junk Defenses
Man to Man Defense
Game Strategy
Basketball Coaching Manual

"All really successful coaches have a system." - Jim Valvano

Basketball Playbook

In Search of Excellence