How To Attack A 1-3-1 Defense Zone (Four Easy Plays)

Attack A 1-3-1 Defense Zone: Attacking a 1-3-1 defense can be a truly frustrating endeavor for many coaches. There are many reasons for that. But more than anything else, it puts your offense in a position it isn’t comfortable with.

Which brings us to the key to beating this type of defense: getting comfortable with it.

First, let’s take a look at a few ideas on how to attack a 1-3-1. There are four main ways to handle a 1-3-1 defense: 

  1. Dribble penetration
  2. Skip passes
  3. Attack the short corner
  4. Attack the backside with lobs

All these strategies can be very effective, but they can be difficult to do on a regular basis. This is the primary reason why the 1-3-1 is so challenging to run offense against. 

In this article, we are going to explore how to consistently beat a 1-3-1. With proven strategies such as quick hitters and a continuity offense, you and your team could get a handle on this formidable defensive technique. 

How to Attack a 1-3-1 Zone Defense With This Continuity Offense 

Experienced coaches know that continuity offenses are tough to run against a 1-3-1. This is because it is so easy for the defense to take you out of your offense and mess up your timing. But this offensive strategy should help you beat any 1-3-1 you come up against. 

  1. First, player 1 passes to 5. As soon as he does this, he will cut behind the top guy to the elbow.
  2. Player 5 then passes to 3 in the corner, and 1 cuts to low post.
  3. As 1 gets into position at the low post, 4 comes across to the mid post.
  4. This is the key to this play. Depending on how the defense plays the 1-3-1, they will either give up the skip or the pass back out.  If 3 skips it to 2, 1 slides to short corner and 4 slides to mid post. 
  5. If nothing is open, 2 can slide up a little, 1 slides out, and the offense is right back where they started. 
  6. If the skip isn’t there, the team can kick the ball back to 5 and then skip it.
How To Attack A 1-3-1 Defense Zone (Four Easy Plays)

You will notice I like quick hitters against a 1-3-1. The reason for this is because, over the years, I’ve noticed that teams that play a 1-3-1 usually have wing guys and a back guy that often tries to get out and steal skip passes. So, if I can hit them with a little misdirection, I can use that aggressiveness against them.

See: Basketball Triple Threat Position

Backside Lob

The lob is a great play and can be very effective. I have to warn you though: you usually get only one chance at this. And if your point guard can’t act the part, there is a good chance that it won’t work. Here’s how to do it: 

  1. 1 passes to 5 and 5 passes right back to 1.
  2. 1 dribbles to the wing a little bit, but all the while, he is actually directing traffic as a decoy.
  3. 5 slides out to the side and 3 crashes through the middle to help attract everyone’s attention.
  4. 4 spins baseline, comes up, and sets a backscreen on the wing as 5 gets the lob from 1.
How To Attack A 1-3-1 Defense Zone (Four Easy Plays)

Break Through a 1-3-1 Defense With This Offense Set

Here’s another strategy you can try out. If done correctly, this can make any offensive team break through a 1-3-1 defense. 

  1. 1 and 5 ping-pong the ball back and forth.
  2. While that is happening, 3 sets a fake screen on the back guy to keep him busy while 2 comes all the way across. 
  3. As 2 gets there, he receives a pass from 5. 
  4. As the ball is in the air, 3 sets a back screen on the middle man in the 1-3-1.
  5. 4 cuts across to the block, at which point he will be wide open.
How To Attack A 1-3-1 Defense Zone (Four Easy Plays)

Best Offensive Play Against Any 1 Fronted Zone

This is my favorite play against any 1 fronted zone. If you have a guy who can shoot the corner three, he can have 20 before the other team can even make a change. Here’s how to do it: 

  1. 1 drives toward the top and wing guards him while kicking the ball to 5.
  2. 5 immediately drives through the gap to make the top and wing guards him.
  3. As the ball is in the air from 1 to 5, 4 slides down to the block opposite of 5.
  4. 5 then skips the ball to 2 in the corner.
  5. As the ball is in the air, 4 bumps the wing guy, preventing him from going out quickly.  2 should be wide open for the three.
  6. Eventually, the back guy will start cheating it. So, as the ball is skipped to 2, 3 slides to the ball side short corner. 
  7. If we hit 3 or 4 with the ball, it just becomes a two man game against the middle man of the zone.
How To Attack A 1-3-1 Defense Zone (Four Easy Plays)

These are just some of the most effective strategies for helping your offensive team handle any 1-3-1 defense. Practice them over and over and keep a close eye out for how the opposing players react. Over time, you and your team should be able to smash through even the tightest defense.

Also Check: What Is The Basketball Post Position?

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