3 Proven Offensive Plays to Beat the Zone

Check out these three effective offensive plays designed to attack zone defenses. You’ll receive an overview of each play and a full diagram before seeing the play being simulated live in action on the court. The following plays offer a variety of options for teams, from three-pointers to lob plays, and mid-range jumpers.

Zone Offense vs. 2-Man Front

Submitted by Keith Siefkes, Beth Eden Baptist School, Denver, CO

The Set-Up: 4 should be your best shooter and is set up in the post (left side). 1 is up top with the ball. 3 is on the left wing and 2 is on the right wing and both are behind the three-point line. 5 is at the free throw line stationed in the middle.

The Action: 1 dribbles to the right wing area to initiate action. As 1 dribbles toward 2, 2 sets a baseline screen for 4. After setting the screen, 2 releases to the top of the key for the ball reversal. 5 rolls down to the mid-post area and 3 drops to the weakside low post area for rebounding. 1 can pass to 4 off the screen or hit 2 after the screen in the low post or 5 at the mid post.

For ball reversal: 1 passes to 2 up top and 2 dribbles to the opposite wing as 3 moves to screen for 4 on the low block/baseline area. 4 cuts across baseline to the opposite corner. 5 follows the ball reversal and set up at the opposite mid-post area and 1 drops for weakside rebounding. After screening, 3 releases to the top for ball reversal.

Also, use this pattern for quicker ball reversal: The play begins the same with 1 dribbling to the wing. After 2 sets a baseline screen for 4 (coming across to the near corner), 2 releases to the opposite wing. 5 then steps out and up top for ball reversal. The reversal goes from 1 to 5 to 2 around the horn.


Lob Play vs 2-3 Zone Defense

Submitted by Jim Rosborough, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

The Set-Up: 1 starts with the ball up top. 3 is on the right wing and above the three-point arc. 2 is on the opposite wing and also beyond the arc. 5 is on the left side low block area and 4 is at the free throw line area.

The Action: 1 passes to 3 and then takes a few dribbles toward the baseline/corner. 3 then passes back up to 1. As this is happening, 4 cuts below 5 and to the left corner. 2 then cuts across the lane and close to 5 and heads to the opposite baseline area/low post.

The Finish: 1 takes a few dribbles and then puts a pass up in the air for 5 right at the rim.


Crunch Play vs. Zone Defense

Submitted by Eddie Sutton, Oklahoma State, Stillwater, Oklahoma

The Set-Up: This play is set up in a 2-3 high alignment. 1 brings up the ball on either side of the floor. The other guard stays up high and opposite the guard with the ball. The center lines up on the foul line and the forwards stay wide on each wing.

The Action: The point guard passes to the center at the foul line. As this is happening, both forwards break hard from their wing area and to the basket on slants. The center takes the pass and looks to hit either forward streaking to the hoop. Once the forwards get to the low post, both guards become headhunters and quickly break to set screens on the forward’s defenders. The forwards curl around the screens and pop out beyond the arc on each side respectively.

The Finish: After setting the screens, both guards seal and curl into the lane and the center feeds the teammate with the best shot opportunity.


The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Over 50 Set Plays to Attack Zone Defenses” produced by Winning Hoops. To check out more set plays for your coaching playbook, head over to our basketball library.

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