Basketball Zone Offense
Coaches can make this offense efficient by remembering a few things. The first thing to know is that you should have a counterattack to a specific zone defensive set. For example, a 2-3 zone you should utilize a 1-3-1 designed offense. This gives the point guard three passing options without too much difficulty. The player behind the zone should run baseline-to-baseline, so that your team can create a short-corner shot opportunity. If the player is able to get the ball there quickly, it is almost like getting the ball in the middle. It releases havoc on the zone defense. While running the zone offense effectively, it is important to be aware of the three-second rule. Many zone defenses force turnovers with the three-second rule because players forget to keep moving when playing against a zone. Movement is another key to success.
In order to beat a zone defense, the offensive players have to keep moving within the zone and get the basketball in to the paint. Getting the basketball in to the teeth of the zone forces the defenders to collapse on the basketball which will leave your shooters open. If your team shoots well, you will force the opponent to come out of the zone and play man-to-man. A lot of teams at the college and high school level like to play matchup zone defense, so that they are not exposed.
Also, when your team gets a defensive rebound, your players have to push the ball so that the zone cannot setup. If the defenders just sit in the zone and do not have to move or react, then you will make the zone defense very effective. Zone offenses should have players cutting, screening and someone in the high or low post to get good looks at the basket. When cutters come through, the zone must communicate, especially if players start playing behind the zone. This is a great way to force a zone out of its comfort. You really do not need to a ton of plays to be effective against a zone defense. A great offense can force the zone players to play man-to-man or beat the zone pretty bad.
There are some plays that can help to deteriorate a zone. In youth basketball, it will be difficult to get a lot of specific plays for young players to use. At this age level, you should make a simple game plan that will keep your post players moving around the box and following the ball around. If the ball goes to the left wing, the post player should flash to the left high post. This is a good way to force the defense to cover the post. When this happens, there are more chances for other players to flash to the open spots to get good looks at the basket.
One of the best ways to get open looks in a zone is by screening. Simply have the guard go in one direction. Send the man in the post to follow the ball. Have another player screen the bottom player in the zone. This frees up the corner for another player coming off the bottom. If the defense gets to that man, teach your post man to find the next guy and seal him. This creates easy scoring chances with quick targeted passes.