Beat a 1-3-1 Zone Protection (16 Methods and Performs)

In the event you’ve performed in opposition to a 1-3-1 zone protection, you understand how efficient it may be.

It’s an aggressive, disruptive, in-your-face protection that makes an attempt to “velocity 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 choices.

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

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

Let’s get began:

1-3-1 Zone Offense Methods

1. Use an Even Entrance Setup

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

The 2 fundamental 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 purpose of that is to separate the “chaser” on the high of the zone.

The 2 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 tasks of every place.


2. Shift the Protection

Persevering with on from the final level…

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

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

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

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

The receiver could have a number of vital seconds to assault / create if there’s a spot.

3. Greatest Playmaker within the Excessive Publish

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

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

“Greatest playmaker” which means a participant who can rating themselves AND create for others.

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

4. Disciplined Court docket Spacing

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

They need 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 regularly working to get open and discover holes is essential.

Utilizing a 2-1-2 or 2-3 setup will assist your workforce obtain this.

5. Assault the Gaps

In case your gamers are spaced appropriately and continuously transferring into open house, there shall be many alternatives to “assault the gaps” within the zone.

The important thing to that is studying the protection BEFORE catching the ball.

(Gamers who catch the ball after which survey the protection shall be too gradual)

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 aim is to “collapse” the protection.

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

6. Overload the Zone

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

This includes 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 need to cowl all offensive gamers.

(this works greatest in case your greatest shooter is on the other wing)

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

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


7. Display screen the Chaser

One other sensible approach to break down a 1-3-1 protection is to display the highest defender (the chaser).

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

This may be accomplished at 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.

Accomplished appropriately, 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. Display screen the Warrior

Maybe probably the most tough position in a 1-3-1 protection is being the “warrior.”

This participant is answerable for overlaying each baseline corners. That’s no straightforward job and requires regularly sprinting from nook to nook all through a possession.

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

Even in case you don’t carry them to an entire cease, simply slowing them down for a half-second can provide a shooter within the nook a large open look.

9. Make the most of Skip Passes

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

The way in which the zone masses as much as the ball makes switching to the other aspect of the court docket on a skip move very tough for the defensive workforce.

That is very true for the Warrior, who’s compelled to dash from sideline-to-sideline so as to cowl the offensive participant within the ball-side nook.

Accomplished appropriately, you’ll get many alternatives to assault late closeouts.

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

10. Make the most of Cross Fakes

“Pretend a move to make a move.”

That’s an vital quote for all gamers to recollect, but it surely’s particularly vital 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… leap passing lanes and leaping / lunging at each alternative, doing their greatest to get a fingertip on the ball.

Disciplined groups can make the most of this aggressiveness by using move fakes.

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

11. Lob Passes

Coaches could be shocked by what number of “lob move” alternatives there are in opposition to a 1-3-1.

Because of the rotations within the 1-3-1 protection and the shortage of massive our bodies near the ring, there’s usually 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’ve got gamers who can throw an correct lob move and gamers who can go up and get it, there’s an enormous alternative to get a number of straightforward factors.

Keep in mind — you may make the most of this motion even in case you 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

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

Due to the positions defenders normally discover themselves in when a shot goes up, defensive rebounding is likely one of the greatest 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 spot.

In case 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 Ground

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

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

Even in case you don’t get a fast rating, this will drive defenders into poor positions as they scramble to choose up the ball to stop a layup or large open shot.

14. Determine Out The place They Lure

Because the workforce’s coach, one of many first issues you ought 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 offers many trapping alternatives.

Determining which traps your opponent likes to make use of will assist you to give gamers probably the most acceptable recommendation and put gamers in the appropriate positions to achieve success.

Groups can change it up in the course of the recreation, 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 Performs

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

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

So, in case you don’t get a clear shot alternative off any of the preliminary actions, your workforce is now within the excellent place to start out choosing aside the protection utilizing the methods outlined above.

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

a. 1-4 Excessive Play

Gamers begin in a 1-4 excessive setup.


1. The purpose 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 other 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 straightforward 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 purpose 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 number 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 offer an outlet move.

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


The way you assault from this place will range 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

Gamers begin in a 2-1-2 setup.

1. The primary 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 quick 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 other quick nook (2) steps up and units a powerful 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 workforce will now discover themselves in an overload place and will work to make the most 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 sophisticated for offensive gamers who haven’t had expertise enjoying in opposition to it.

However it’s undoubtedly not not possible to beat.

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

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