From zone defense to zone offense. I took clips of this game I recorded earlier in the afternoon between Big Ten opponents Wisconsin and Michigan. Though Michigan is near the bottom of the league in terms of their record, they're keep close in a lot of games primarily with the odd defense that they run. For Bo Ryan and Wisconsin, they came into the game with a plan of attack and for the most part, I thought they executed their zone offense very well against Michigan's 1-3-1. Here are a couple of sequences from the first half of the game,

I've used a double high-post formation in the past to beat the 1-3-1 zone. But one of the coaches from the X's and O's forum posted a 'Y' formation that I think works even better. I watched Auburn use the same 'Y' against a 1-3-1 and it worked really well there too.

The 'Y' to Beat the 1-3-1:

So, basic zone principles apply here. You use the pass and pass fakes to move the zone sideline to sideline. O3, O4 and O5 move and interchange between the bottom 2 and high post spots. So it looks like a 'Y' with an extra player running the baseline down low.

The skip passes have to crisp and quick. Your players must be patient and not turnover the ball.

As the zone shifts one way, your players shift the other way to find the gaps. You won't find the gaps on 1 ball reversal, you may need 2 or 3 or 4 ball reversals until the zone breaks down.

Finally, the zone has broken down and one of the baseline players is wide open underneath. The pass has to be crisp again leading to an easy finish.


One thing that I hear commonly is that coaches never seem to think they do well against the zone. The score is 48-40 and they wonder how come they didn't score more. That is precisely what zones do, they slow the pace of the game, they force you to be patient and execute. Teams that run a lot of zone will typically score less as well. It's just the way it is. Ugly or not, a win is a win.

If you're interested in a new video on zone offense, take a look at Jamie Dixon's DVD on the 3-out 2-in zone offense. Coach Dixon has just released a bunch of new DVDs that are all worth checking out. Join the many coaches already talking about their favorite basketball topics at the X's and O's Basketball Forum.