With Rutgers University head men’s basketball coach Mike Rice as your guide, learn how to maximize your zone offense efficiency and train your players how to become instinctive to attacking zone defenses. The goal here is that after mastering these drills, your players should become better players against zone. Plus, they’ll be able to read defenses better and react to them, making them complete players for any system.
Efficient passing is a necessity when it comes to attacking the zone. As a team, you want to attack the paint, collapse the defense, and then finish the play from there. While this is a great passing drill for anything really, it is especially helpful for reading the defense. For coach Rice, if Rutgers is about to play a zone team, this is the drill that the squad starts out practice with. It gets players to keep their heads up, make ball fakes, play low, and understand who is open.
Four players start out on the blocks and elbows and three other players begin in the middle of the paint. One defender is closing out to the ball, and the other two players play how they want but must get in the passing lanes. The only rule is that the defense has to play the ball and be active. Coach Rice often implements the rule that after eight passes, if the defense deflects the ball, they put a point on the board.
Start with three lines of players around the arc. The drill begins with a pass to an adjacent player, he makes a shot fake or ball fake, and then immediately gets into a gap. Coach Rice will often use coaches or even chairs so that players can effectively get into the gaps.
Next, players will kick out the ball to an adjacent player. From there, players can either fade and pivot or go behind their teammate from there. Once the ball gets to that third player, he/she will shoot it. A coach will also have a ball on the side and will pass to the middle player for a shot. The only person that doesn’t get a shot here is the player who started the drill.
Tips for Zone Offense: Don’t be lined up exactly where the defense lines up. Remember, a possession in basketball comes down to whether your guys can make better decisions than the opposing players. You do this through drills so it eventually becomes instinctive.
The drill eventually moves into “Next Pass Shooting.” Any of the three offensive players can start out the drill this time. But this time, there’s only one penetration, then a shot fake, a next pass, another pass, and shot. According to Coach Rice, sometimes we over-penetrate, so we need to practice making the drive and short kick.
The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Mike Rice: Zone Offense and Zone Concepts.” To check out more videos focusing on zone basketball, simply head over to our basketball library.