X - Half Court Press

Half Court Trap

What to Discover or Recall . . .

The "X" half court press is very versitale and valuable defensive tactic.
It is a major weapon to disrupt fast break attacks.
It is very valuable in protecting hard earned leads late in a game.
The "X" half court press can be used to get the ball out of a good ball handler hands.
It also can be deployed as a change of pace or game tempo during the game.

"X"

X Press

| Roles | Rotations | Keys to Success | Adjustments | Variations | Don'ts | Drills |

The half court press "X" gets its name from the coach's signal of holding cross arms in front of chest. In addition to disrupting a fast break attack, this half court zone press is very valuable in protecting hard earned leads late in a game. The reason being, is that most teams use ball reversal in order to penetrate half court presses. However, in reversing the ball it takes precious time off the clock benefiting the defense. In addition, "X" increases the number of unforced turnovers since teams have a tendency to try to force and make difficult passes in order to speed up the game tempo.

"X" can also be used to get the ball out of a good ball handler hands. Once the ball handler gives up the ball after being double teamed, the defender assumes a strong pass denial position and does not allow any return pass to the ball handler. This usually results in the shooter initiating the offense instead of being the primary receiver. Most importantly, by deploying "X" it keeps the defense alert, active and aggressive. Large and end of game leads are usually blown by playing passive defensive.

Defensive Fundamentals Required

View  Containing a Dribbler

View Double Teaming

View Strong First Pass Denials

View Providing Strong Backside Support

 

 


5 Stars

Player Roles & Responsibilities

The "X" Half Court Press is flexible and can be adapted to all types of player personnel.

Expand/Close

X1 Point/Chaser - influences the dribbler into sideline trap.

  • Immediately puts pressure on ball handler. Influence the ball handler into trap zone by over-playing to inside. Should employ defensive fakes.

  • After ball crosses mid court line, O1 traps and "locks up" the dribbler with wing O3. Be aggressive but avoid fouling. Do not allow dribbler to split double team.

  • Anytime ball is pass out of trap, O1 assumes a strong pass denial position against O1.

X2 Container/Interceptor - becomes Helpside Interceptor

  • Takes away middle once ball crosses the mid court line.

  • Must anticipate and over play the play passing lanes to O2 or O4.

  • Responsible for cross-court, skip pass to opposite wing.

  • Anytime ball is passed out of trap closes out on balance to nearest receiver.

X3 Ball Side Container - denies sideline pass, and traps dribbler

  • Contains and traps once the ball handler O1 dribbles across the mid court line.

    RULE: Dribbler must never get by the container with one dribble.

  • Lock up and never allows dribbler to split the double team.

  • Any time ball is passed out of trap, ball side container dives (sprints) to basket and assumes a Helpside I position.

X4 Protector/Interceptor - ball side deep player becomes Interceptor

  • Protects basket until ball crosses mid court line.

  • Once ball crosses mid court line, O4 becomes interceptor and must deny the critical sideline pass to O3.

  • If ball is passed out of trap dives to basket assuming a strong pass denial pass to post.

X5 Protector/Interceptor - helpside deep player becomes Director

  • Must get back and protect basket.

  • See the ball on defense. Don't turn back to ball while retreating.
    Protect against the long pass, read passers eyes and arm.

  • Must have the ability to deny any pass into the middle.

  • If/when ball is passed out of trap, X5 rotates out and assumes a pass denial position on wing.

 


5 Stars

Primary Rotations

Trap Right

Defender X1 plays off and pushes ball handler O1 to primary trap zone. Once O1 penetrates across the mid court line X1 traps O1 with X3. As the trap is set X2 drops into a Helpside I position anticipating a pass to O2 or O4. X4 rotates out to a pass denial position against O3, while X5 assumes a pass denial position against high post O5.

Ball Reversal

If the ball is passed out of trap to O2, X1 assumes a strong pass denial position on O1. X2 closes out on O2 and pushes O2 to sideline pushpoint. X3, releasing on pass, sprints to Helpside I position against O3. X4 quickly rotates to a pass denial position on post O5. X5 closes out to a pass denial position on O4.

Ball Reversal

Final Matchups: If O2 passes to wing O4, defender X5 assumes an "On Ball" position pushing O4 to corner or baseline pushpoint. X2 creates box pressure by denying any return pass back to O2. X4 assumes a pass denial on post O5, and X3 and X1 assume Helpside I positions. Basic disruptive pressure rules are in effect.

 


5 Stars

Keys to Success

  1. Do not trap until the ball crosses the mid court line.

  2. Do not allow any uncontested passes into the high post area.

  3. Rotate and close out quickly on cross court skip passes.

  4. Upon stealing the ball, immediately look first to pass ahead. (Players should advance the ball on the dribble only if a pass is not possible.)

 


5 Stars

Game Time Adjustments

Ball Reversal

Disrupting Ball Reversal

To prevent the guard to guard pass and ball reversal defender X1 can play off between ball handler O1 and O2. This will force O1 to advance the ball on the dribble.

Flattening Out

Flattening Out

If/when the opponent's press break includes making a guard to guard reversal pass prior to crossing the mid court line, defender X1 can drop back and wait for the ball to cross half court before double teaming.

Protecting Against the Back Door

Back Door Adjustment

Protecting against the back door and deep skip pass.

If/when the opponent tries to attack the middle and back cut the wings, defender X2 rotates into a high post denial against O5 and X5 drops to a low helpside I position against O4. Lock up on trap. The deep cross court skip pass will be difficult to see and execute against a strong double team.

Back Door Adjustment

Coaching Tip: Invert by placing a tall player X4 in the X3 container position. Small guards will not be able to throw over the taller player. In addition, this allows a quicker player X3 to assume the interceptor position.

 


5 Stars

The "X" half court press is very versitle. Use the 1-2-2 alignment for two big players or no big players, an 1-3-1 alignment for one big player, and the Shadow alignment for one big quick player or five small players.

1-3-1 Variation

1-3-1 Alignment

Use this alignment when playing with one tall player in the lineup.

X1, assumes an on BALL position, pushes O1 to sideline pushpoint and traps O1 with X2. Baseline defender X3 anticipates sideline trap and closes out early on O3. As the ball crosses half court, X2 traps O1 with X1. X4 drops into a Helpside I position anticipating a pass to O2 or O4. X5 maintains a pass denial position against post O5.

Ball Reversal

Close Out Rotations

When the ball is passed out of trap to O2, X1 takes a pass denial position on O1. Defender X2, releases on pass and sprints to Helpside I position against O3. X3 quickly rotates to a pass denial position on post O5. X4 closes out on O2 and pushes O2 to sideline pushpoint. X5 closes out to a pass denial position on O4.

Early Ball Reversal

Ball Reversal

When O1 makes a cross court pass prior to crossing half court, X1rotates over and traps O2 with X2. X3 drops to a Helpside I position. X4 rotates to a pass denial position against post O5, and X5 closes out quickly to O4 denying any sideline pass.

Post pass

Every attempt should be made to keep the ball out of the middle; however, if/when the ball is passed out of trap to O5, X1 sprint releases on pass to a denial position on O1. X2 assumes a pass denial on O2. X3 drops to a pass denial on O3 preventing a back door pass. X4 assumes an on BALL position on O5, pushing O5 to a corner pushpoint. X5 maintains a pass denial position on O4.

Ball Reversal

Matching UP: When the ball is passed out of trap to O1, X3 closes out on O1 and pushes O1 to sideline pushpoint. X2, releasing on pass, sprints to Helpside I position against O4. X4 closes out to a pass denial position on O3. X5 quickly rotates to a pass denial position on post O5. X2 drops to Helpside I position against O4 and X1 assumes a pass denial position on O1. Basic disruptive pressure rules are in effect.

 


Shadow Variation

"Shadow" Has Options of Trapping, Faking Trap or Jump Switching.

When the ball is inbounded, X1 assumes an on BALL position, forcing O1 to advance the ball down a sideline. Very similar to the full court Shadow press, the player guarding the inbounds passer, X4 assumes a "shadow" position playing 8' to 10' behind the defender guarding the ballhandler in a supporting role. In the Shadow position, as the ball crosses the mid court line to keep the ballhandler off balance and guessing, X4 has options of executing a hard trap with X1, faking the double team or jump swithching with X1.

Trap Option

Shadow Trap

Once the ball crosses the mid court line, X4 traps O1 with X1. X2 assumes a pass denial position on O2 preventing any sideline pass. X5 maintains a pass denial position against high post O5 and defender X3 assumes a Helpside I position anticipating a pass to either O4 or O3. When X4 traps O1 with X1, defenders X2, X3 and X4 anticipate the pass out of trap. In most cases, ballhandler O1 will telegraph the pass.

Fake Trap Option

Fake Trap

Same action as above except the Shadow X4 fakes the trap forcing ball handler O1 into picking the dribble. The "Shadow" X4 after faking the double team and releases back to a pass denial position on the inbounder O4. X3 rotates into Helpside I positions while defender X2 maintains a strong pass denial position on O2. Defender X5 assumes a pass denial positon on O5 keeping the ball out of the middle. When the ball handler O1 picks up the dribble, defender X1 executes an aggressive JAM or smother while other defenders deny all passing lanes.

Jump Switch

Jump Switch

An aggressive "Jump Switch" is a third option that can be ran out out of the Shadow alignment. It is used primarily as surprise element or change of pace. Shadow Switch is frequently used against smaller lineups. Defender X1 forces O1 to near sideline pushpoint and then executes an aggressive jump switch with Shadow X4. X4 attempts to draw a charge or force O1 into picking up the dribble. X4 then smothers O1 as X1 sprint releases into a pass denial position on O4. X2 maintains a strong pass denial position on O2. X3 rotates into Helpside I position and X5 keeps the ball out of the middle.

INVERT VARIATION: Defenders X1 and X4 can INVERT prior to the inbounds pass. X4 then assumes the "On Ball" position on O1 and X1 assumes the Shadow support position.

 

 


5 Stars

X Press "Don'ts"

Disrupt Ball Reversal

Wait on Ball Reversal

Do not trap until the ball crosses the mid court line.

Split

Deny Dribble Penetration

Do not allow dribbler to split the defense. "Lock UP" on trap.

No Middle

Keep Ball Out of Middle

Do not allow any uncontested passes into the high post area.

Cross Court Pass

Close Out Quickly on Skip Passes

Do not rush out at the ballhandler. Close out quickly on balance, and force ball handler into baseline pushpoint.


5 Stars

In review

The half court press is a very valuable and versatile defense.

  1. It is a major weapon to disrupt fast break attacks.

  2. It is very valuable in protecting hard earned leads late in a game.

  3. The half court press can be used to get the ball out of a good ball handler hands.

  4. It also can be deployed as a change of pace or game tempo during the game.

  5. Half court press is flexible and can be adapted to all types of player personnel.

  6. On turnovers, players are already in fast break attack position.

  7. Keeps the playerse alert, active and aggressive.

  8. The "X" half court press is fun to play.

 


5 Stars

Clipboard

Teaching & Implementing the "X" Half Court Press

"It's not the play, but how you execute it that counts!"

The key to the success to the "X" half court press is in its timing and execution. Players need to be well prepared to execute hard traps, strong pass denials and quick closeouts. This requires non-verbal communication and coordination.

Caution: Before undertaking any defense, players must have a solid, working knowledge of all of its components.

Learn More  Whole-Part-Whole Method of Teaching

Learn More  Motor Skills Learning

 

Drills for Skills

Breakdown Drills:

View/Print Cut Off & Control (1-on-1)

View/Print Executing Double Teams (4-on-4)

View/Print Back Court Double Teaming (2-on-1)

View/Print Free Throw & Press - Longest Run

 

 

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