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One-Three-One Zone

1-3-1 Zone Alignment

| Basic Shifts | 3 Inline Variation | 1-3-1 Traps | Extending Full Court |

1-3-1 Zone is probably the most versatile zone defense since it is very favorable and conducive to matching up and trapping. In fact, its basic form is the least use. While most zones matchup to the ball, in the 1-3-1 zone, defenders play off and overplay the passing lanes. In playing the passing lanes, it spreads the offense and forces the offense to throw over the defense or extended cross court passes which are vulnerable to interceptions and deflections.

1-3-1 Zone Weaknesses

The 1-3-1 zone’s major weakness is defending the corner shots, However, this is misleading since in most cases, the 1-3-1 defense wants to invite corner passes so that they can readily be trapped. Rebounding can be a weakness since a wing defender is the primary weakside defensive rebounder when shots are taken from the wing or corner.

Like on zone defenses the 1-3-1 zone requires active defenders with arms stretched out and all five players moving as a unit on all passes. Off ball defenders must anticipate and “read” the passer’s eyes and motions since most passers telegraph their passes.

With the 1-3-1 zone, defenders can be readily moved around. It is recommended that a strong defensive rebounder be placed on the left wing since most offensive teams are right handed. A quick, agile player should be placed on the baseline since they are always on ball side covering the entire baseline corner to corner. A tall, lanky player can also be placed at the top of the 1-3-1 zone, especially against small offensive guards. Small guards are not used to passing over tall players.

 


5 Stars

Basic 1-3-1 Zone Shifts

Ball at Top

Home - Ball in the Middle

Defender X1 is on ball, X4 and X2 cover wings, X3 is front of basket and X5 defends the high post area.

Ball on Left Wing

Ball on Left Wing

Defender X4 is on ball, X1 drops to ballside elbow, weakside wing X2 drops into the middle, base defender X3 is half way to the corner and X5 assumes a position between ball and the basket.

Ball on Right Wing

Ball on Right Wing

Defender X2 is on ball, X1 drops to ballside elbow, weakside wing X4 drops into the middle, base defender X3 is half way to the corner and X5 assumes a position between ball and the basket.

Ball in Right Corner

Ball in Right Corner

Defender X3 is on ball, X1 drops to ballside elbow, X2 denies pass back to wing, X4 drops to weakside baseline and X5 assumes a low position between ball and basket.

Ball in Left Corner

Ball in Left Corner

Defender X3 is on ball, X1 drops to ballside elbow, X4 denies pass back to wing, X2 drops to weakside baseline and X5 defends low post area.

 


1-3-1 Baseline and Point Defenders Shifts

In the 1-2-2 Zone, the two baseline players work in unison as if there is a line tied to them.

Ball in Corner
Ball in Corner
X3 on ball and X1 covers high post area.

Baseline & Point Shifts

Ball in Right Corner
Ball in Corner
X3 on ball and X1 covers high post area.

Ball on Left Wing
Ball on Wing
X3 half way out and X1 sags off toward elbow

Ball at Top
Ball Out Front
X1 on ball and X3 is in front of basket.

Ball on Right Wing
Ball on Wing
X3 half way out and X1 sags off toward elbow

 


1-3-1 Wing Defenders Shifts

In the 1-3-1 Zone the wings work opposite. They are also responsible for weakside rebounding when the ball is in the opposite corner.

Ball in Left Corner
Ball in Corner
X4 denies return pass and X2 assumes a weakside rebounding position.

Wing Shifts

Ball in Right Corner
Ball in Corner
X2 denies return pass and X4 assumes a weakside rebounding position.

Ball on Left Wing
Ball on Wing
X4 on ball and X2 sags off to middle position.

Ball Out Top
Ball Out Front
X2 or X4 pressure the passing lanes to wings.

Ball on Right Wing
Ball on Wing
X2 on ball and X4 sags off to middle position.

 


1-3-1 Middle Defender Shifts

The post shifts are very similar to a 2-1-2 zone in that they maintain a position between the ball and the basket preventing any pass into the middle.

Ball in Left Corner
Ball in Corner
X5 protects ball side low post area.

Middle Shifts

Ball in Right Corner
Ball in Corner
X5 protects ball side low post area.

Ball on Left Wing
Ball on Wing
X5 protects mid-post area.

Ball out Front
Ball Out Front
X5 protects high post area.

Ball on Right Wing
Ball on Wing
X5 protects mid-post area.

 


1-3-1 Adjstments

Weakside Skip Pass Close Outs

Skip Pass Left

Skip Pass Right

When a cross court, skip pass is made out, the weakside wing closes out to the ball, the baseline defender moves to ballside, the middle defender maintains a position between the ball and the basket, and the ballside wing sags off to the weakside elbow.

Exchange Option

Skip Pass Left

Skip Pass Right

If the baseline close out is a problem, then the baseline defender and the middle defender exchange roles with the middle defender going to ballside baseline and the baseline defender assuming the middle position on ballside.

 


Dribble Penetration Denial

Dribble Penetration Left

Dribble Penetration Right

Against the 1-3-1 alignment, it looks like the ball handler can drive the gaps. However, the post is in position to stop dribble penetration. As a result, any dribble penetration will actually end up in a trap.

 


5 Stars

"Three In a Line" Variation

Three in a line is a 1-3-1 zone that keeps the "Big" around the basket. This compact zone allows a big, intimidating defender to stay around the basket at all times. In order to do this, the wings cover the corner rather than the baseline player. This also keeps the middle defender in line with the ball.

If defending the corner with the wings becomes a problem, the corners can readily be trapped using the wing and middle defenders.

Home

Home - Ball in the Middle

Defender X1, X4, and X5 in line with ball.

Ball on Left Wing

Ball on Left Wing

Defender X3 is on ball, X1 drops to ballside elbow, weakside wing X2 drops into the middle, defendesr X4 and X5 assume positions between ball and the basket.

Ball on Right Wing

Ball on Right Wing

Defender X2 is on ball, X1 drops to ballside elbow, weakside wing X3 drops into the middle, defenders X4 and X5 assume positions between ball and the basket.

Ball in Right Corner

Ball in Right Corner

Defender X2 drops to baseline, X1 drops to ballside elbow, X3 drops on weakside, defenders X4 and X5 maintain positions between ball and the basket.

Ball in Left Corner

Ball in Left Corner

Defender X3 drops to ball, X1 drops to ballside elbow, X2 drops on weakside, defenders X4 and X5 assume positions between ball and the basket.

 


5 Stars

Trapping Out of a One-Three-One Zone

1-3-1 Zone Alignment

Trapping a ball handler will instantly take a team out of its offensive flow. The 1-3-1 zone player alignment makes it excellent for trapping since the traps incorporate "Primary Trap Zones" (Corners) where two out of bounds lines come into play. Out of bounds lines are tenacious defenders that never make a mistake and defenders should take full advantage of them whenever possible.

Next Defensive Concepts - Trap Zones

One of the nice features of the 1-3-1 alignment is that the traps can be applied hard or soft (loose). These hard and soft trap optiions can easily be alternated keeping the offensive players off balance.

Defenders should pressure the ball handler, but do not foul. In trapping the player with the ball defenders should never reach, slap, or grap for the ball. Instead, both defenders should trace the ball with both hands, keeping their elbows together to prevent being hit by an errant elbow, forcing the opponent into making a lob or bounce pass.

Next Double Teaming Fundamentals

The off ball defenders must be alert and anticipate the pass out of the trap. Since the defenders are already in their fast break lanes, they can bust out and capitalize on deflections and interceptions.

Basic Trap Actions

Trap Rightside

Trap Top - Right Side

Defenders X1 and X3 trap the ball handler, X5 prevents any pass into the high post area. X4 denies the sideline passing lane, and X2 anticipates the pass out of the trap.

Trap Leftside

Trap Top - Left Side

Defenders X1 and X2 trap the ball handler, X5 prevents any pass into the high post area. X4 denies the sideline passing lane, and X3 anticipates the pass out of the trap.

Trap Right Corner

Right Corner Trap

Defenders X3 and X4 trap the ball handler, X5 prevents any pass into the middle. X1 denies pass out of the trap, and X2 drops to weakside baseline.

Trap Left Corner

Left Corner Trap

Defenders X2 and X4 trap the ball handler, X5 prevents any pass into the middle. X1 denies pass back out of the trap, and X3 drops to baseline.

 


1-3-1 Trap Corner Variation

Middle defender traps the ball handler in the corner with the wing. Baseline defender protects the basket.

Trap Right Corner

Trap Right Corner

Wing defender X3 and middle defender X4 trap the ball in the corner. X5 stays near the basket. X1 anticipates pass out of trap, and X2 drops to weakside baseline.

Left Corner Trap

Trap Left Corner

Wing defender X2 and middle defender X4 trap the ball in the corner. X5 protects the basket. X1 anticipates pass out of trap, and X3 drops to weakside baseline.

Skip Pass Adjustment

Skip Pass

When a cross court skip pass is made along with a quick pass to the corner, the middle and baseline defenders exchange roles with the baseline defender X5 trapping and X4 defending the low post area.

This adjust is also used when deploying the "Three in a Line" compacted 1-3-1 zone variation.

 


5 Stars

Extending the 1-3-1 Zone

The 1-3-1 zone alignment and double teams allows it to be easily extend into half court or full court pressure.

Learn More Quarter Court 1-3-1 Trap

Next 1-3-1 Half Court Press

Next 1-3-1 Full Court Press

 

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