Playbook Series: 3 New Plays to Attack Zone Defenses

Add three new plays to your playbook this season designed to effectively attack zone defenses. First, you’ll receive an overview of each play and a full diagram. Then watch the play in action on the court with real players. This week’s collection of plays offer a variety of options for teams, against the zone, including easy lobs at the rim and wide open shots from the outside. 

High Percentage Shot vs. Zone Defense

Submitted by Peter Moe, Washburn HS, Washburn, ND

Set-Up: This play starts with a double low post and can be run to either side. Player 1 is up top with the ball, 2 is on the right wing, 3 is on the left wing, 4 is on the opposite low block, and 5 is on the near low block.

Action: 1 enters to 2 and 2 takes a few dribbles to the baseline to force the zone to shift. 3 sets up high on the opposite wing. 2 returns the ball to 1 and immediately cuts across the baseline. As soon as 1 has the ball, 4 flashes into the lane and is working hard for the ball. Aftr pausing in the lane to occupy the backside zone defense, 4 continues to the high post. 2 sets a pick on the backside zone player down low.

Finish: 3 then cuts towards the low block behind 2’s screen for a lob pass and easy layup. Timing is key to prevent a 3-second violation or trigger defensive recognition. Both posts must actively work for positioning during the play. Also, 1 must not give away the lob pass with the eyes.


Thumbs Up vs. 1-2-2 Zone

Submitted by Steve Mergelsberg, Rutgers University-Newark, Newark, NJ

Set-up: 1 drives down and makes a dribble entry to the right side. 2 is on the opposite low block, 3 is on the nearside low block, 4 is on the opposite elbow, and 5 is on the near elbow.

Action: As 1 drives past the free throw line extended, 3 sets a back screen for 5. 5 comes off the screen and rolls to the basket looking for a pass from 1 for a quick and easy layup. If 5 doesn’t get the pass, then he/she posts up on the ball-side low block. On the opposite side, 2 and 4 exchange positions to help create movement. If 5 gets a pass from 1 on the ball side, 4’s defender often slides over to provide defensive help. This could create an opening for 5 to dish to 4 (who’s cutting to the hoop).

Finish: If there’s nothing on the roll or quick post up, then 5 turns and screens away for 4, who breaks to the ball-side low block. Meanwhile, 3 sets a screen in the lane for the defender closest to 2. 2 uses the pick and sprints toward the ball side. 1 can hit 4 or a post up shot down low or pass to 2 for a short jumper at the elbow.


Pick and Roll vs. 2-3 Zone

Submitted by Brent Lemond, Vanguard HS, Ocala, FL

Set-up: This play starts off in a 2-1-2 set. Players 1 and 2 start off up top and lane-line extended. 5 is at the free throw line. 4 is in the ballside corner. 3 is on the weakside low block.

Action: 5 steps out and screens for 1 and 2 moves into shooting position on the opposite wing. The defender X2 should be forced to help on 1, leaving 2 open for a shot on the wing. If defender X3 steps out to take the shooter, 2 looks for 3 in the short corner. 3 looks to score or drive and dish. If defender X5 moves to cover the short corner, then 2 can hit 5 after the screen.


The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Over 50 Set Plays to Attack Zone Defenses.”  Check out our entire offensive collection by clicking here. Got any other effective plays to beat the zone? Tell us below or e-mail us at

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