I recently watched Jerry Tarkanian's DVD on the Amoeba defense as a coach friend of mine is thinking of putting it in this year for his JV team. I think that there are times when this defense would work well. It's good at trapping the ball in the corner and fronting the post which will force some turnovers. Watch the video and then you can read my thoughts below.


It basically looks like a Diamond and 1 formation. Tarkanian says that X1 and X2 should be your best defenders as they need to be cover alot of territory and must be very aggressive ball defenders.

Trap in the Corner:

The key to the defense is to force the ball into the corner where you want your forward to aggressively trap the ball there. There is basically a double on the post with 1 person fronting and 1 behind.

The way this trap is setup is kind of unique. It's a jump switch as X4 jumps out to cover the corner man while X3 hops down to front the post. The way Tarkanian teaches in the video, the idea is that the post is open for a brief second and the corner may try to throw it inside, that is precisely when X3 is coming down and should intercept the pass, he says they practice this quite a bit.

X2 is in deny, X1 is in help. The only pass you want the other team to make is the long lob pass back to O1. The O3 skip pass is an option, but if X4 sets a good trap and is aggressive, O4 should not be able to make that pass.


I think this is a good defense to use at times when you want to take away the other team's best post player while aggressively trapping the ball. It will force some turnovers and against teams that haven't prepared against it, I don't doubt that you will be successful with it. The only thing is that I'm a little skeptical against the ball reversal and skip passes.

If you want to see his entire defense, take a look at Coach Jerry Tarkanian's Amoeba Defense DVD

Also, I have Amoeba defense notes so be sure to check them out at the X's and O's Basketball Forum.


  1. Unknown  

    February 11, 2010 at 9:04 PM

    The O4 to O3 skip passes often goes into the stands or can be deflected by a smart X4. If the pass gets to O3, X4 closes and forces the contested three or X1 helps on the drive, with an oft missed 16-17 foot jumper. The value of the defense is how it speeds up the game and leads the opposition into taking contested shots and "low percentage" quick shots (given the lost art of the mid-range jumper.

    Unless you have phenomenal athletes, it can be used for very long if played correctly - X1 and X2 will exhaust themselves. But used as a short term alternative to man or 1-3-1 match-up zone, it can change the flow of the game.