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The full court zone press and multiple stunts part I: the 1-2-1-1 press.

The 1-2-1-1 Full-Court Press is an aggressive type of full-court zone that is very different than its major counterpart, the 2-2-1 full-court zone press.

While the 1-2-1-1 traps the ballhandler on the initial inbounded pass, the 2-2-1 press usually is more passive and waits for the ballhandler to start his dribble down the sideline before trapping him.


The trap can be affected either in the backcourt or frontcourt. Both pressure points have their advantages. A simple number system can differentiate the full-court press defenses from one another and then follow suit with the half- court presses--allowing the team to integrate more than one full-court defense with numerous half-court defenses.

The first digit of the overall defensive call delineates the full court defense, while a second digit indicates the half-court defense. By naming the 1-2-1-1 full-court zone press the "1 Press," the 2-2-1 zone press the "2 Press," the 2-1-2 full court press the "3 Press," a full court Run and Jump as the "4 Press," and a full-court man-to-man press the "5 Press," the coach can make it easy to learn the names of his zone presses and call them out during the season.

"5" is the name for the half-court man-to-man defense, "1" is the half-court 1-2-2 zone, "2" the half-court 2-3 zone, and "3" is the 1-3-1 half-court zone defense.

The combination of two particular numbers will complete the defensive numbering system--giving a team the capacity to run a full-court defense that can ultimately revert into a variety of different half-court defenses.

For example, a coach who wishes to utilize the 1-2-1-1 full court press (the #1), and then fall back into a 2-3 half court zone (the #2) would have no problem making the call ("12") to the team.

All a coach would have to do to change his overall defense and switch to a 2-2-1 full-court press before ending up in a half-court man-to-man defense would be to call out "25".

The basic terminology and the names of the five pressing positions of all three zone press defenses, as well as the techniques, slides, and rotations are all very similar--enabling you to include all three zone presses into the same overall press-defense package.

The system can thus be utilized by the same team without confusion and doubt by players and coaching staffs. Having similar techniques, slides and rotations gives individual defenders the important skills and repetitions for practicing the skills needed for one particular zone press while working on a different press.

Offensive-minded coaches usually attack this range of full-court presses in different manners. Integrating particular techniques within the 1-2-1-1 zone press and then modifying other techniques can provide the defense with the advantages of variety on the zone presses and the decrease of any disadvantages in the "1 Press".

The techniques can also change the degrees of pressure, the actual pressure points placed on the offensive opponent, and the overall tempo and pace of this defense. The incorporation of various defensive stunts can confuse the opposition's offensive plan of attack as well as possibly maximizing your own defensive personnel's strengths while probably minimizing your defenders' weaknesses.

The names of the five defensive positions and the general placement of defensive personnel to maximize the effectiveness of the "1 Press" are described as follows:

The "Point" is the defender who puts immediate pressure on the opponent who takes the ball out of bounds, called the "Trigger".

This defensive position is best suited for the "4-man" (P4)--most likely the most athletic of the team's two big men. When the ball is shot, 4 should always be attacking the board for offensive rebounds. He should set up near the basket where he can easily pressure the opposition's Trigger to help prevent the quick long throws by the opposition (before his teammates can set up the latter portion of the press).

The defensive wing most likely to set up on the left side of the defensive court is called the "Tight Wing". As the offense's "3-man" (T3), he is the best overall fit for this responsibility.

The wing on the opposite side is called the "Wide Wing". He is the "2-man" (W2), and he, too, is the best defender for this assignment.

The lone defender in the third wave in the middle of the court is called the "Monster." Since 1 is already back for defensive transition on missed shots, the "1-man" (M1) can most likely be the best choice for this defensive assignment.

The last defender in the "1 Press" is called the "Safety" and should be occupied by the "5-man" (S5). Some defensive coaches might want the "Tight Wing" and the "Monster" to switch positions, but because of defensive transition responsibilities, it is felt that the former locations will provide more success in both the defensive transition and the defensive pressing phases of the team.

Because most teams are right-handed overall, we call the right side (on which the opposition takes the ball out of bounds) the tight side of the court, making the defense's left side the tight side.

If an opposing team continually takes the ball out of bounds from their left side, the pressing team can switch the tight side and the wide sides of their "1 Press."

This switching of the tight and wide sides of the court primarily affects only the "1 Press." See Diag. 1.

Whenever your offense scores, you should make an immediate defensive transition into your "1 Press."


The "Point" should shade the passer to prevent the quick long throw and to highly discourage an initial pass to anyone on the "wide side" of the court.

The "Wide Wing" must deny the ball to anyone on his side of the court, while the "Tight Wing" denies the pass or forces the ballhandler to an area in the deep corner on the tight side of the court.

The "Monster" must deny any long throw near or farther down the floor on the tight side. The Safety, with the help of the backboard, rim, net and outstretched arms of the Point deny any long passes on the wide side. He also must be the first defender back to protect the basket after the ball has been inbounded.

The basic movement of the "1 Press" after the inbounded pass on the tight side is shown in Diag. 2. There is strong belief that the Point of the "1 Press" cannot always trap the first pass made on the wide side of the court.


Therefore, the inbounded pass is only trapped on the tight side by the "Point" and "Tight Wing." Following are the emphasis points for the "Point" and the "Tight Wing" in trapping the opposing ballhandler in the deep corner (only on the tight side):

1. Trace the ball by cross-facing your hands with outstretched arms.

2. Leave a one-foot spacing between the ball and themselves.

3. Form an "L" with both feet.

4. Use the phrase "no (side)lines, no splits(of the trap)"--meaning that the "Wide Wing" never gives up the sideline dribble and the "Point" never gives up the "dribble split."

5. Sprint out of any traps to quickly get to ball-level when the trap breaks down.

The "Wide Wing" (W2) and the "Monster" (M1) are the two defenders who must split the difference in spacing among the three most logical passing avenues--the ballside mid-court area, the middle area near the top of the circle, and the area below the basket.

Since the middle of the "1 Press" is its most vulnerable area, it must be defended more heavily.

The "Monster" (M1) must cheat toward any potential pass receiver near the ballside mid-court area, while the "Wide Wing" (W2) must attempt to stop any pass to the middle of the court. Diag. 2 illustrates the "Read" stunt, with the ball being trapped in the deep corner on the tight side of the court.

When the ball is reversed to the offense's original "Trigger" (4), several possible benefits occur. The opposition's "Trigger" could very easily be one of the poorest ballhandlers, while the passer who made the reversal pass (1) is probably one of the better ballhandlers and would then be denied the re-reversal pass, since the 10-second time limit has already started.


Diag. 3 illustrates the reversal pass out of the initial tight side trap and the points that should be orchestrated:

1. When the ball is being reversed, the "Point" (P4) should immediately sprint toward the middle of the press offense.

2. The "Wide Wing" (W2) should slide over the top to continue denying that opponent the pass, until "Point" (P4) gets there to take over that important responsibility. He must then close out on the new ballhandler in an inside-out angle to encourage the ballhandler to dribble down the sideline.

3. The "Tight Wing" (T3) jumps to the ball and starts dropping toward the middle of the court to ball-level.

4. The "Monster" (M1) sprints to the middle lane of the court but deeper than ball-level.

5. The "Safety" (S5) sprints toward the first potential pass receiver on the sideline on the wide side of the court to deny the quick pass down that sideline. The farther that offensive man is from the ball, the farther S5 can be from him.

Diag. 4 shows the positions of all five defenders on the reversal pass toward the wide side of the floor with the original "Wide Wing" (W2) fanning the ball down the sideline and squeezing the dribbler increasingly as he approaches the 10-second time line.


The "Safety" (S5) denies the ball to the man in his area and applies the bluff and retreat technique on the dribbler. As the ball just crosses the time line, S5 rotates up to the dribbler and utilizes the first part of the "no lines--no splits!!" and W2 applying the second half of the technique.

The "Monster" quickly sprints through the middle of the court and rotates to the opponents pass receiver who appears to have been left open with S5's "jump-trapping of the dribbler" (with W2).

The "Point" (P4) remains on the ballside of any possible pass receiver in the middle lanes as he sprints to become the new protector of the basket, as the original "Tight Wing" (T3) works on denying any pass to the middle of the court or deeper than ball-level.

Trapping the ball just inside the time line cuts the area that must be defended in half, with P4 being the goalie, M1 denying the vertical pass down the sideline, T3 denying the middle pass, with W2 and S5 trapping the dribbler.

If the opposition can escape this defensive pressure with a pass out of the trap, all five defenders should sprint immediately into the half-court defense, (whether it be man-to-man or some type of zone defense). See Diag. 5.


Diag. 6 illustrates the first overplaying stunt made after the initial inbounded pass to the tight side of the court.


As previously mentioned, there are three areas that M1 and W2 must adequately defend. In the "Pinch" stunt (Diag. 6), two specific areas are taken away and the offense must correctly guess which area is open and then make the pass out of the trap.

The middle pass is still completely denied but by M1 (not W2). The usual safe reversal pass (from 1 to 5) is made to appear to be open while W2 waits and looks to shoot the gap and make the interception.

S5 still maintains a cautious position and attitude to protect the basket. As before, if any passes or dribbles out of the initial trap are successful all defenders behind the ball must sprint to the level of the ball while any defenders (other than the original "Safety") that are still ahead of the level of the ball must cautiously contain the dribbler.

Diag. 7 illustrates that the "Swarm" is a much more aggressive and gambling stunt than the "Pinch".


W2 again overplays the reversal pass and M1 again overplays the outlet pass to the middle of the court. But in the "Swarm," the "Safety" (S5) steps up to shoot the gap on the first pass receiver on the original tight side of the court.

This leaves an open pass receiver, but it is the one who is the farthest from the original trap. With a great deal of pressure on the ball and added pressure on the three pass receivers nearest the ball, the defense may calculate that the distant receiver will not be seen or that the pass cannot be successfully made. If by chance the pass is made, all five defenders must sprint to get to ball-level immediately.

Diag. 8 illustrates the last and most conservative of the stunts. It is called "Match" and can only be utilized when the defensive "Point" (X4) can be an equal or have a defensive advantage over the pass receiver taking the reverse pass.


The usual trap with P4 and T3 is made on the tight side, while M1 and W2 take away the middle and near sideline pass outlets.

If the trap does not produce a turnover and the ball is reversed, P4 must follow the pass and chase down the ball. All five defenders then match up with the closest man in their immediate area and play full-court man-to-man defense until the ball is turned over or nears the front court's hash marks (where the half-court defense) goes into effect.

This is a very safe stunt with aggressive defensive pressure--a double-team trap that can put defensive pressure or possibly a mismatch on the opponent's worst ballhandler.

The "1 Press" offers a forceful and aggressive defensive attack plan that can incorporate any or all of the aforementioned stunts that can wear down the opposition both physically and mentally. It can be used from the beginning of the game to the end, not just as a last ditch effort to come from behind to win a game.

By John Kimble, Former Coach, Crestview (FL) High School
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Title Annotation:basketball
Author:Kimble, John
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2006
Previous Article:"Moses" kick-return scheme.
Next Article:Game planning your defensive coverages.

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