Regardless of what type of full court zone pressure you may be facing and how you choose to attack it, these rules and principles will help your players better understand how to be effective against the pressure.
- Move to areas away from the defenders. As the zone rotates, be aware and alert and move to a new open area.
- Always attack toward your basket. Don’t pass sideways or backwards unless absolutely necessary for safety.
- Force the defense to attack the basketball where you want them to. That is, pass or dribble to an area on the court you want to be attacked. Against zone pressure, that should be towards the middle of the court.
- Keep your head up. Always be looking down court so you can read the defense as well as find any open teammates. Also important to look before you dribble or pass. Dribbling and/or passing with your head down will pretty much guarantee a turnover.
- Spread the defense. Offensive players should be spaced as much as possible to force the defense into covering as much of the court as possible.
- Be strong with and without the basketball. Make crisp, solid passes. Cut hard. Dribble with a purpose. Demonstrate to the defense that your team can handle the basketball.
- Look for odd-man advantage and use it. Odd-man advantage means you are in a 3-on-2, 2-on-1, etc situation. When you have the advantage, attack your basket and look for the shot opportunity.
- Take only good shots. Don’t force or rush shots. Don’t jump cluelessly into the air. You can get bad shots anytime you want. Attack the pressure and make them pay for it by shooting good shots only.
- Only use your dribble when necessary. Most zone press defenses attempt to force you to dribble into a trap. Don’t let them. Only dribble to create space, better passing angles, or when you are absolutely sure you have the ability and space to do so. If you do have an opportunity to attack with the dribble, be aware that a defender is probably coming up behind you or coming from out of your version to knock the ball away.
- Communicate. Call for the ball. Let your teammate know a trap is coming. Yell to the dribbler that a defender is coming from behind. You get the idea…TALK to each other!
- Move the basketball quickly. If you stand there holding the ball like you’re massaging it, the defense will likely trap you. Move it quickly to make the defense move and not let them get set.
- Use pass fakes. Making a good pass fake against a zone will make the entire defense move or pause. Fake before passing the ball.
- Maintain your defensive balance. Don’t send 4 players down on offense and leave 1 player to beat the zone press by himself. Should there be a turnover, the other team will get an easy score.
- When you pass the basketball, stay clear of the teammate you passed to. Don’t go to your teammate with the basketball because by doing so, you are probably bringing a defender which will give them an instant doubleteam opportunity. It also clogs up the court and we want to keep good spacing, remember?!
- Whenever a team presses on a made basket (or even if they press on misses), get the ball back inbounds quickly and start your attack. You might be able to break the pressure before they can even get themselves into position.
What say you? Any other rules & principles to add to this list? Feel free to share your ideas in the comment section below!