I was thinking about doing a post on the 1-1-3 zone defense for a while now so here goes. There was a team I coached against that used it on us and it really disrupted our game. We were used to playing mostly M2M and some 2-3 zones, but the 1-1-3 threw us off and we ended up jacking a lot of ill-advised 3-pointers. Needless to say, we lost the game.

Anyways, I took a little more closer look at it and the more I looked into it, the more I liked it as a defense to use to change things up. I think in many ways, it's better than the 2-3 zone because it puts more pressure on the opposing team's point guard, who is usually the best or 2nd best player on the other team at the high school level.

1-1-3 Basic Setup:

Bob Huggins teaching points for his 1-1-3 pressure defense are:

1. Always sprint to help.
2. Stopping the ball is the first priority on and off ball.
3. Put pressure on the ball as much as possible when it is held, dribbled, passed, caught, or shot.
4. The closest man will always take the ball.
5. Sprint to coverage area and break down into defensive closeout position.
6. All five players must rebound.

X1 up top will pressure the point-guard and force him one way with the dribble or to pass the ball. X2 runs the free-throw line extended from sideline to sideline, must be well conditioned. X3 and X4 cover the lane to the corner on each side and double when the ball is entered into the post. X5 should front the post.

Pass to Wing:

When the pass goes to the wing, X2 must sprint to closeout. X1 drops down to a help position in the case of either a drive, skip pass or return pass to the point.

You can also choose to trap the wing, by having X3/X4 step up, this is assuming that they offense does not have a player in the corner.

Pass to Corner:

2 ways to cover this, you can have X2 drop down while X3/X4 jumps out to cover the corner. Or, like in the diagram below, X5 and come around and 3/4 front the post from the baseline (because you have help over the top), while the weakside forward covers the middle. X1 should be at the free-throw line to closeout on either a top of the key pass or skip pass.


As mentioned, I really like the 1-1-3. Like most zones, it is vulnerable to the 3-point shot. But we weren't a good shooting team that year, so we played right into their hands. I like the pressure aspect as well. In the 2-3, you can extend the 2 guards to pressure a little bit but I think it leaves way too much room at the high-post area. With the 1-1-3, you can have 1 guard extended putting pressure beyond the 3-point line, while the other guard can still cover the high-post area.

For more detailed info on the 1-1-3 zone defense, take a look at Bob Huggin's DVD on Pressure 1-1-3 Defense. Coach Huggins is the head coach at West Virginia University. Join the many coaches already talking about their favorite basketball topics at the X's and O's Basketball Forum.