How to play against a zone defense

how to attack a zone defense in basketball

Don’t you hate playing against a team that sits in a zone so they can avoid playing defense? Seems the game gets really boring and hard to play doesn’t it? I know I used to feel that way until I was given the secrets to play against a zone defense. You should totally read this post to start beating zones at ease…[private]

What’s the purpose of a zone defense?

I’m sure you know that a 2-3 zone aims at protecting the paint, and a 3-2 tries to prevent shots. But what are the main purposes of zone defenses? When you find out what a zone wants, do the opposite! Here are the main goals:

  • Avoid playing man to man – bad coaches think that a zone will hide defense¬†inefficiencies. When actually zones are vulnerable when defensive players are weak in one on one. Anyway, the first purpose is to avoid playing D. So you should make them play D instead of jacking quick shots.
  • Protect the paint – That’s right. They don’t want you to drive there.
  • Make you take quick shots – Yes. It’s a trap. After one pass, you’re opened. You want to shoot it. And that’s what they want. Because if you shoot it quick, they did not sit down more than 5 seconds in defense so they’re fresh to attack against you!
  • Play transition offense – This is just logic. You take a quick shot they grab the rebounds and run for a easy basket!

How you should attack a zone defense

Here are a few collective (team) rules that will help you destroy zone defenses.

  • Don’t dribble as soon as you catch the ball.¬†Use shot fakes, pass fakes, and jabs instead.
  • Reverse the ball from one side of the court to the other. If you only play on one side, the defense is not following the ball (so they don’t get tired)
  • Drive and kick. This one is crucial. Most times on the perimeter, guards are outnumbered (2 players guarding 3). Drive to make two players pinch to stop the drive.You’ll have 2 guys on you, so the 2 others guards are wide opened. Keep driving and kicking until the guards are too tired to play defense.
  • Dump the ball inside after ball reversal. Give the ball to your post so that the defense will collapse inside. The big man will kick it back out.
  • Play High-low inside. When a big catches the ball on the short corner, he must drive or watch the other big man dive from the high post.

If you respect these principles as a team, beating the zone will be a piece of cake.

You understand everything? You got a question? Comment below.[/private]

About The Author


I am a former college, semi-pro, and professional basketball player from Paris, France. I am a FANATIC of basketball (can literally talk about the game for hours!). I decided to write all my basketball thoughts down so I can let my friends speak! My goal is help my team (readers, and followers) become better player/coach by sharing the best tips to improve basketball IQ, skills, athleticism, and motivation.