3 Set Plays to Attack Zone Defenses

Check out these three effective offensive plays designed to attack zone defenses. You’ll get an overview of each play and a full diagram before seeing the play being run in action on the court with real players. The following plays offer a variety of options for teams, from three-pointers to pick & rolls and even inside looks in the post. Meanwhile, one play is even ideal for a last-second shot at the end of a quarter or game.

Over (vs. 2-3 Zone)

Submitted by Jim Calhoun, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

Overview: This play is run out of a 1-2-2 set. It’s been very effective for the UConn men’s basketball program. At one point, this play was run on 42 possessions and saw the team score 31 times.

The Set-up: 5 and 4 set up behind the zone. 5 starts out on the low left block and 4 is between 3-point arc and the right low block. Meanwhile, 2 and 3 line up on each wing behind the 3-point line. 1 begins with the ball up at the top of the key.

The Action: 1 dribbles in a few steps at the top of the key to draw two defenders and then passes to three on the right wing. 5 then sets a back screen on the middle defender in the lane. 4 then sets a back screen for either the near forward or middle defender. At the same time, 3 passes back to 1 and then cuts toward the basketball and through to the opposite corner. As 3 makes his cut, 2 quickly set a down screen on the offside forward. 1 then receives the pass from 3 and then swings it back to 3 in the corner.

The Finish: 3 can shoot the three-pointer or make an entry pass to 5 sealing on the low block.


Pick & Roll vs. 2-3 Zone

Submitted by Brent Lemond, Vanguard High School, Ocala, FL

The Set-up: This play starts off in a 2-1-2 set. The 5 player starts out at the free throw line area and then steps out and screens for 1. The defender here should be forced to help on 1, leaving 2 open for the shot on the wing. If the defender (X3) steps out to take the shooter, 2 then looks for 3 in the short corner.

The Finish: From here, 3 will look to score or can drive and dish. If defender X5 moves to cover the short corner, then 2 can hit 5 after the screen is set.


Last Shot Against Zone

Submitted by Pat Sullivan, Head Men’s Coach at College of St. Francis, Joliet, IL

The Set-up: The initial set up is a 1-2-2. The ball is moved around until about 15 seconds remain on the clock, if possible. Attack the inside first. Make sure a shot is taken with less than six seconds left.

The Action: 1 passes to 3 on the left side wing area and then moves toward the pass to create a lane for 3’s return pass. Meanwhile, 2 should be your best shooter and then moves down and creates a stack with 5 on the low block. 3 will then set a screen below 4 on the opposite low block. 1 then dribbles to the middle of the floor and reads player 2’s cut. 2 then either flares out to the corner off of 5’s screen on the low block or heads to the opposite corner thanks to the double screen set by 4 and 3 on the low block.

The Finish: Player 1’s first look should be to 4 on a flash in the paint. The option is also there for 5, who is also flaring in the post. If 1 passes to 2 off the double screen, then 3 should clear to the opposite side corner. The options also exist for 2 to take the jumper or 2 can feed 4 down low. The play can be run to opposite sides and be sure to look for 4 as your first option at the outset.


The following plays can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Over 50 Set Plays to Attack Zone Defenses.”  Check out our entire offensive collection by clicking here.


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