The 1-3-1 zone defense has the advantage of being able to apply pressure on the outside arc and high post, and allows for some trapping.
The wing defenders X2 and X3 must drop to the weak-side block when the ball is on the opposite wing.
X4 stays even or below the block and when the ball moves to a wing, moves out about halfway to the corner. If the ball is passed to the corner (diagram C), X4 closes-out on the ball and X2 can either drop inside a little, or trap the corner with X4. Become a Premium Member or get the Deluxe CD or downloads to get the complete article and animation. The 1-3-1 zone defense has been very successful for teams seeking to disrupt their opponents' offensive schemes. Coach Greenberg gives a detailed account of the half-court 1-3-1 trap, a great counter to other zone defenses played today. The 1-3-1 offense is a simple offensive set, easy to learn, with good spacing, a high post and low post presence, and would be a good choice for youth and middle school teams.
The 1-3-1 set also works well in attacking 2-3 zone defenses, the most common zone defense that you will see. Using the 1-3-1 set, O1 is the point, O2 and O3 are the wings, O5 is high post and O4 is low block (see diagram A).


O3 can pass to the cutting O1, or to the posting O4, or to O5 at the free throw line, or back out to O2. Next (Diagram B), O2 passes to O4 in the corner and cuts through looking for a pass back from O4. Now the offensive options are (Diagram C): -- O4 can shoot the 3 pointer, pass to O5 down on the block, or to O1 on the right wing. If O4 or O5 are not open, the ball is reversed back to O3 (diagram C) and then to O1, or directly with a skip pass from O2 to O1. Optionally, in diagram D, we see a big gap created up the right side of the lane (after our posts moved to the left side). If at any time, O5 gets the pass in the high-post, run a "hi-lo" option such as "High-2", especially if the low post is being full-fronted (see diagram below). X1 on the top, X2 and X3 on the wings (near the arc, free-throw line extended), X5 on the post player, and X4 down low. As the ball crosses half-court, X1 tries to direct the ball to one side, to the awaiting wing player X2 who then takes the ball. In detailed manner, Coach Blackford teaches the responsibilities and actions of the chaser, wings, center and point guard. Areas covered include the responsibilities for each position, trap coverage and rotations, how to defend skip passes and dribble penetration, as well as rebounding assignments.


At the same time, O4 should have inside position after the sealing on the screen, and cuts to the hoop. Coaches may differ on who covers what, but you have to decide which is best for your team and make sure your players all understand how you want them to shift and defend.
The Michigan 1-3-1 is designed to restrict passing and force the offense to put the ball on the floor.
It may be helpful to have a good 3-point shooter playing 4, as O4 may get the 3-point corner shot. O1 should rotate over to the 2 (right wing) position, and O3 should now rotate to the 1 position at the point. The zone on the right side is now overloaded, and there are now 2 on 1 offensive opportunities. Also, looking at diagram C above and the bottom right diagram below, with both posts on the right side of the lane, O2 passes the ball on top to O3, and now you could run a "Loyola play" by having O1 drop down to the corner. Notice that if the X4 defender over-plays, switches and jams O1's cut, O4 could simply "slip" the screen and cut to the hoop for the pass from O2.



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