How to Beat a 1-3-1 Zone Defense (16 Strategies and Plays)

How to Beat a 1-3-1 Zone Defense (16 Strategies and Plays)


If you’ve performed in opposition to a 1-3-1 zone protection, you know the way efficient it may be.

It’s an aggressive, disruptive, in-your-face protection that makes an attempt to “speed up” the offense and confuse them with traps and irregular defensive positioning.

To defeat it, the offense should be calm beneath stress and make sensible selections.

(This protection shouldn’t be utilized in youth basketball… however many coaches do anyway)

Below we’ll undergo 16 methods your group can use to interrupt open a 1-3-1.

Let’s get began:

1-3-1 Zone Offense Strategies

1. Use an Even Front Setup

Most groups will use an “even front” setup when enjoying in opposition to a 1-3-1 protection.

The two foremost choices are:

2-1-2 Setup — Two gamers within the slots, a participant within the excessive put up, and two gamers within the corners.

2-3 Setup — Two gamers within the slots, a participant within the excessive put up, and two gamers on the wings.

The level of that is to separate the “chaser” on the high of the zone.

The two gamers on the high will normally be your level guard (1) and both a trailing massive (4) or a second guard (2), however all gamers ought to perceive the obligations of every place.


2. Shift the Defense

Continuing on from the final level…

Two gamers on the high offers you the choice to simply shift the protection backward and forward.

This is tremendous efficient originally of the possession when the chaser first steps as much as guard the ball, particularly if the protection likes to entice on the high.

Before crossing the midway line or simply because the defender commits, gamers have the choice to reverse the ball to a trailing teammate on the alternative aspect of the court docket.

This stifles any traps and forces the protection to shift to the alternative aspect of the ground.

The receiver may have a number of necessary seconds to assault / create if there’s a niche.

3. Best Playmaker within the High Post

Many coaches select the incorrect participant to place within the excessive put up.

It’s frequent for groups to robotically put the tallest participant on the group there — which considerably is sensible as a result of it’s a troublesome move and so they’re an even bigger goal — however I’ve discovered groups have extra success placing their finest playmaker within the excessive put up.

“Best playmaker” that means a participant who can rating themselves AND create for others.

You want somebody there who can shortly learn the protection and make sensible selections.

4. Disciplined Court Spacing

Nothing you learn on this article will assist in case your gamers don’t maintain good spacing.

They ought to continuously seek for and transfer into open house on the perimeter.

The 1-3-1 protection is efficient as a result of it creates havoc and confusion, so having off-ball gamers frequently working to get open and discover holes is essential.

Using a 2-1-2 or 2-3 setup will assist your group obtain this.

5. Attack the Gaps

If your gamers are spaced accurately and continuously shifting into open house, there can be many alternatives to “attack the gaps” within the zone.

The key to that is studying the protection BEFORE catching the ball.

(Players who catch the ball after which survey the protection can be too sluggish)

If a participant already is aware of there’s a drivable hole as they catch, they’ll instantly put the ball on the ground and assault earlier than the protection has an opportunity to rotate.

The objective is to “collapse” the protection.

Attacking the gaps within the zone will pressure assist which leaves teammates open.

6. Overload the Zone

“Overloading” is likely one of the finest methods to defeat the 1-3-1 zone protection.

This entails bringing 4 offensive gamers to 1 aspect of the court docket, forcing defenders to maneuver out of their common 1-3-1 positions in the event that they wish to cowl all offensive gamers.

(this works finest in case your finest shooter is on the alternative wing)

For instance… (1) on the high, (3) within the nook, (4) on the elbow, (5) within the brief nook, and (2) on the alternative wing.

If your gamers can transfer the ball shortly and intelligently, open photographs will seem because the defenders scramble from closeout to closeout.


7. Screen the Chaser

Another sensible option to break down a 1-3-1 protection is to display screen the highest defender (the chaser).

Any offensive participant may be the screener, however most coaches may have the participant within the excessive put up step out to set an on-ball display screen for the ball-handler.

This may be achieved in the beginning of the possession, but it surely’s much more efficient when executed after a ball reversal to catch the highest defender off guard.

Done accurately, the ball-handler will discover themselves with a ton of house to assault the hole, collapse the protection, and both rating themselves or create a shot for a teammate.

8. Screen the Warrior

Perhaps essentially the most troublesome position in a 1-3-1 protection is being the “warrior.”

This participant is chargeable for masking each baseline corners. That’s no straightforward activity and requires frequently sprinting from nook to nook all through a possession.

An offensive participant within the low put up or brief nook could make the warrior’s job even more durable by screening them as they dash the baseline.

Even for those who don’t deliver them to a whole cease, simply slowing them down for a half-second can provide a shooter within the nook a large open look.

9. Utilize Skip Passes

On-time and on-target skip passes may be devastating to a 1-3-1 protection.

The approach the zone hundreds as much as the ball makes switching to the alternative aspect of the court docket on a skip move very troublesome for the defensive group.

This is very true for the Warrior, who’s compelled to dash from sideline-to-sideline with a view to cowl the offensive participant within the ball-side nook.

Done accurately, you’ll get many alternatives to assault late closeouts.

(these are troublesome passes to throw for younger gamers… they’ll get the ball there, positive… but it surely received’t be a robust / on-target move which provides a teammate time to shoot or assault earlier than the protection rotates… and that’s a giant purpose why the 1-3-1 is so efficient in youth basketball)

10. Utilize Pass Fakes

“Fake a pass to make a pass.”

That’s an necessary quote for all gamers to recollect, but it surely’s particularly necessary for groups enjoying in opposition to a 1-3-1 zone protection.

You see, the 1-3-1 is an aggressive zone that emphasises deflections…

When enjoying in opposition to one, you’ll see defenders flying across the court docket… bounce passing lanes and leaping / lunging at each alternative, doing their finest to get a fingertip on the ball.

Disciplined groups can reap the benefits of this aggressiveness by using move fakes.

A fast move pretend on the perimeter can open up a driving lane, and any move pretend from the excessive put up is assured to get each defender taking a step or two in that route.

11. Lob Passes

Coaches can be stunned by what number of “lob pass” alternatives there are in opposition to a 1-3-1.

Due to the rotations within the 1-3-1 protection and the dearth of huge our bodies near the ring, there’s typically a considerable amount of open house on the weak-side low block.

(that is additionally the rationale why offensive rebounding is essential, which we’ll get to in a minute)

So, when you have gamers who can throw an correct lob move and gamers who can go up and get it, there’s a giant alternative to get a couple of straightforward factors.

Remember — you’ll be able to reap the benefits of this motion even for those who don’t have gamers who can end an alley-oop dunk. The receiver can catch, land, after which return up and end the layup.

12. Offensive Rebounding

offensive rebounding technique is crucial in opposition to a 1-3-1 protection.

Because of the positions defenders normally discover themselves in when a shot goes up, defensive rebounding is likely one of the largest weaknesses of the protection.

So you might want to take benefit!

Some groups ship 3 gamers to the offensive glass whereas dropping 2 again to security, others ship everybody under the free-throw line in to rebound.

Whichever technique you select, be sure to’re exploiting this weak point.

If your gamers are fast to react and aggressive of their pursuit of the ball, you are going to get loads of offensive rebounds, 2nd probability factors, and draw a ton of fouls inside.

13. Beat Them Down the Floor

As with all zones, the most effective methods to defeat them is to get down the ground shortly.

Do this by encouraging your level guard to advance the ball with a move as an alternative of dribbling the complete size of the ground by themselves.

Even for those who don’t get a fast rating, this will pressure defenders into poor positions as they scramble to choose up the ball to forestall a layup or broad open shot.

14. Figure Out Where They Trap

As the group’s coach, one of many first issues you need to be evaluating within the first 5 minutes of the sport is the place the opposition likes to entice.

> Are they trapping the excessive put up?
> Are they trapping the corners?
> Are they trapping on the high?

A 1-3-1 zone protection supplies many trapping alternatives.

Figuring out which traps your opponent likes to make use of will help you give gamers essentially the most acceptable recommendation and put gamers in the fitting positions to achieve success.

Teams can change it up throughout the sport, after all… however most groups have a particular algorithm they use 90% of the time to maintain issues easy for the defenders.

1-3-1 Zone Offense Plays

Below I’ll share two highly-effective basketball performs to make use of in opposition to a 1-3-1 zone.

Both are designed to complete in an “overload” place.

So, for those who don’t get a clear shot alternative off any of the preliminary actions, your group is now within the excellent place to start out selecting aside the protection utilizing the methods outlined above.

Because my viewers is primarily youth coaches, each performs are geared toward getting the ball contained in the paint for a simple end or to attract the foul.

a. 1-4 High Play

Players begin in a 1-4 excessive setup.


1. The level guard’s first choice is to get the ball to one of many gamers within the excessive put up.

2. Whoever catches the ball, the alternative put up instantly cuts in direction of the basket and appears to get a deep seal on the “warrior,” who will normally be a smaller defender. If accessible, dump the ball inside and rating a simple two-point layup.

3. As this occurs, (1) slides throughout to the wing and (2) slides right down to the nook.

4. If the move inside isn’t open, gamers will now discover themselves in an “overload” setup.



1. The level guard’s second choice is to move the ball to a teammate on the perimeter.

2. When this occurs, the ball-side excessive put up instantly steps in direction of the basket and makes an attempt to get a deep seal on their opponent. If the move is open, give it.

3. (2) takes a couple of dribbles in direction of the baseline to enhance the passing angle, (5) slides throughout to the ball-side excessive put up, and (1) steps in direction of the ball to supply an outlet move.

Again, gamers will discover themselves in an “overload” setup and should take benefit.


How you assault from this place will fluctuate relying on what the defenders select to do, however the bottom line is exploiting mismatches and the confusion that follows because the protection makes an attempt to determine one of the best ways to defend so many gamers on one aspect of the court docket.

b. 2-1-2 Play

Players begin in a 2-1-2 setup.

1. The first choice is to get the ball to the excessive put up if they’ll get open.

2. On the catch, (5)’s first choice is to assault or move to the gamers within the brief nook for an open shot or one-dribble after which they go up.

3. If these choices aren’t open, (5) passes out to the ball-side nook.

4. As quickly as that occurs, the alternative brief nook (2) steps up and units a robust back-screen on (5)’s defender. (5) ought to then dive to the ring for the potential catch and layup.

If that’s not open, the group will now discover themselves in an overload place and will work to reap the benefits of that.



The 1-3-1 protection is efficient as a result of it’s aggressive, disruptive, and complicated.

Defenders are positioned in “awkward” spots on the court docket that make issues difficult for offensive gamers who haven’t had expertise enjoying in opposition to it.

But it’s positively not unimaginable to beat.

With endurance, good spacing, sensible ball motion, and information of the best “strategies” to make use of in opposition to a 1-3-1, your group shouldn’t have any hassle selecting them aside.

Source hyperlink


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.