Chalk Talk: Key Concepts and Tips to the 2-3 Zone Defense

Follow along as Syracuse head men’s basketball head coach Jim Boeheim highlights some key concepts and overall tips for the 2-3 Zone Defense. With whiteboard diagrams, Boeheim illustrates player responsibilities, reads and rotations, plus specific scenarios concerning recovery off the press, corner traps, and rebounding.

Key Principles of the 2-3 Zone

There are a few overall principles that every player must keep at the forefront when implementing the 2-3 Zone. First, it’s the traps made off the zone that really keys the defense. Also, it’s vital to contest the three-point shot and always have five players moving on every offensive pass. Remember, this is not a stationary zone, and players must be active in order to be effective.

Getting Back on Defense Off the Press

When in engaged in a full-court trap, let’s say a simple 1-2-1-1, it’s important to get back to our spots on defense quickly and hard. Never run with your back to the basket. Rather, sprint back to the three-point line and then find your normal spots to get into position. For many teams, the whole key to a particular offense is the fast break. With that said, defenders must bet back and locate the shooters. If the best shooter is at the top of the key, the guard must find him and go to him. The other guard will be responsible for the high post area.

When it comes to traps in the 2-3 zone, when we get beat, we typically get beat in the short corner. If that’s the case, the forward from the weakside must come across the lane and take the high post and take the post rolling down. The goal is to get the opposition to throw the ball out of the short corner, then we can react back to our normal positions.


Corner Trap

When the ball comes from the wing to the corner, the forward should be ready to attack the ball. We must come down and trap the corner forward with a guard and a forward. The weakside forward cuts the passing lane back to the wing and the center fronts the low post. The high post is played by the weakside forward coming up hard. He must get into the passing lane to take away that pass, leaving the furthest offensive guy from the ball open on the opposite wing. Keep in mind, the corner trap is designed to keep the ball out of the corner, and if it does go there, we can get a steal or deflection or passing lane steal.


The 2-3 Zone can have some disadvantages when it comes to rebounding. Whenever a shot is taken from the wing, the opposite forward is caught with two potential offensive rebounders. He must get in position for the rebound but can only choose one player to block out. The weakside guard must get back to help out in this scenario. Weakside rebounds will be a battle and the goal here is to tip the ball back into the center where the center or guard can get to it. However, if you are rebounding at a disadvantage on the weakside, then your opponent is not attacking as much on the ball-side, which can help your defense.


The following segments can be seen in Championship Productions’ DVD “Jim Boeheim’s Complete Guide to the 2-3 Match-Up Zone Defense.” To check out more defensive-oriented videos in our extensive video library, click here.

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