Here's Why 40 Year Vet Switched To 1-3-1 Zone Defense

You're going to learn why 40 year coaching vet Will Rey switched to a 1-3-1 zone defense. And he did so after teaching man to man defense for 30 years at the college and high school level.

The transition has worked quite well, as over the first 12 years his defense has only allowed 41.2 ppg.

Additionally, Coach Rey is going to explain...

  • 7 Reasons Why You Might Want To Use A Zone Defense
  • Why Coach Rey Prefers The 1-3-1 Zone Defense - 8 Advantages
  • How Zones Can Be A Weapon During Playoff Basketball

Here's what Coach Rey said...

(Also, if you prefer to watch a video versus reading the text below, go to this page. Scroll down the page to watch the videos where Coach Will Rey explains everything.)

7 Reasons Why You Might Want To Use A Zone Defense

As a college coach for 19 years (1985-2004), we scouted more college games than we can remember and observed in person or on video scores of high school games.

In addition, each year we had the priceless opportunity to visit high school practices often conducted by some of the nation's best zone defensive coaches. This comprehensive study gave way to our decision to use the 1-3-1 zone and its variations as our primary defense at Northridge.

The compelling factors that motivated this decision are:

1. Time is always a problem in coaching.

There simply isn't enough time to do all the things I'd like to do whether that is developing the team's offense, working on skill development, or practicing special situations. The zone defense requires less teaching and practice time than man-to-man thus providing more time to develop the more important offensive skills.

Our research has shown that over the past 12 years when we lose basketball games at Northridge, it's usually because of poor offensive execution. Often those losses result from too many turnovers, particularly those that lead to easy scoring opportunities, or not running our offense well against pressure. Playing zone defense allows us more time in practice to improve those very important offensive skills.

2. The zone defense impacts the game regardless of your talent level.

If you happen to have the best players on the court in a given game, the zone can be structured in such a way that it can be a devastating force in the game.

However, if you have less talent, the zone can be "The Great Equalizer."

Without question, regardless of your team's talent level, the zone can keep you in the game.

3. There are few zone offensive attacks, and most are similar and unimaginative.

Most zone attacks involve similar components and patterns of movement. Very few zone offenses are innovative or creative, and most have few options. Consequently, preparing our zone defense requires less time than preparing for the wide variety of man-to-man offenses common today.

4. Zone defenses effectively stop dribble penetration.

The zone defense is inherently strong in stopping dribble penetration and the low post game. Dribble penetration is fundamental to the way players train today, and to many successful offenses that have proliferated the game. The zone has a built-in structure that stops dribble penetration, forcing coaches and players to alter their preferred method of attack.

5. Zone defenders tend to foul much less.

This allows your best players to stay in the game longer and keeps your opponents from entering the bonus. During my first eight seasons at Northridge, we paid careful attention to when our opponents entered the bonus. We found that our opponents got into the bonus fewer times by half than when we played man-to-man defense.

6. Zone defense complements full court offense.

When running out of the zone, our players are perfectly positioned to launch a fast break.

7. Coaches tend to spend less time developing zone offensive attacks.

Many coaches do not respect the zone defense. Some view it as an unsound strategy or even a gimmick. Consequently, they may spend less time thinking about, developing, and practicing their zone offensive attacks.

With these factors in mind, we chose to commit to playing zone defense. It is what we teach and what we play through thick and thin. Our players are convinced that it works when executed correctly. It is how we defend, The NRP Way, and we are committed to it.

Why Use The 1-3-1 Zone Defense (or 31 Defense) Over Other Zone Defenses

Now that I have built a case to support zone defense in general, let me further my argument for the 1-3-1 Zone in particular. The 31 Defense offers a number of advantages that I don't find in other defenses.

1. It is strong in the middle of the floor.

Three defenders are always guarding against penetration into the lane. The 31 Defense makes it difficult to enter the ball into the post while providing excellent coverage of the 3-point line.

2. It has fewer moving parts than most zone defenses.

Compared to other zone defenses, there are fewer "transitional defenders" (players who have to cover multiple areas).

3. It is the most versatile of all zones.

With slight adjustments, the 1-3-1 Zone can be played with varying pressure points at all levels of the court.

4. It lends itself to multiple adjustments and coverages within its basic structure.

5. There are few offenses designed specifically to attack the 1-3-1 Zone.

6. It is not as common as other zone defenses.

In our area, the 2-3 Zone and the 1-2-2 Zone are much more prevalent than the 1-3-1 Zone defense. As such, the uniqueness of the 1-3-1 provides an advantage against teams that do not play against it very often.

7. It can be effective regardless of your personnel.

We have experienced great success with this defense with teams that were short or tall, quick or slow. For coaches who do not have the luxury of recruiting to fit their defense, the 31 Defense can be effective regardless of how your talent may fluctuate from season-to-season.

8. It works! 41.2 points per game allowed!

It has put us in position to dominate games when we have superior talent. It has also given us a chance to win against teams that may be deeper or quicker.

In my first 12 years at Northridge, we have never given up more than 50 points per game in a single season. In fact, we have allowed an average of 41.2 points per game during my tenure playing the 31 Defense exclusively.

Why This 1-3-1 Zone Defense Prepares You For Playoff Basketball

In addition to being more difficult to scout for, here is another reason that it could give you an advantage during playoffs.

Due to this defense, we're going to play in a lot of 50-possession games. Consequently, we spend a lot of time learning how to win in 50-possession situations.

This has been to our advantage over the years because, typically, playoff basketball, or championship level basketball, is played at a slower pace. It's rare to see very high scoring games in championship situations.

In fact, you can check the NCAA tournament over the years, and you can see that teams tend to be a little bit more patient when there's a lot of pressure, and referees tend to call the game a little bit tighter. We feel that playing in a playoff tempo the entire season favors us when we go into state tournament situations.

High Praise From All Levels Of Basketball For Coach Rey's 1-3-1 Zone Defense!

"Having coached at the HS, D1 an NBA levels, I've been blessed to coach with and against some great coaches, but none better than Will Rey. Will Rey possesses incredible insight into the game and articulates the information extremely well. His creativity and thoroughness make his teachings the best on the market--this 1-3-1 defensive instructional video is no exception!"

- Ed Schilling, Assistant Coach at Indiana, Former NBA Assistant Coach

"Will Rey is one of the greatest teachers of the game of basketball whom I've been privileged to be around. He understands how to maximize the potential of his teams and put his players in position to be successful. His 1-3-1 defense, which has been a hallmark of his Northridge Prep teams, serves as an example of his exceptional teaching and coaching abilities. I am a far better coach today because of my time spent around Coach Rey over the years."

- Clay Nunley, Head Men's Basketball Coach at Roanoke College

"I thought Coach Rey did an excellent job and presentation of the 31 defense.. I loved his attention to detail ....if you want to go to a 1-3-1 defense then this is the DVD set for you."

- Dave Tuengel from Chehalis, Washington

"This DVD offers a solid defensive scheme for those who have limited time to teach man to man defense. It can also serve as a nice supplemental defensive attack for those who are man only coaches. Coach Rey is detailed in explaining the base coverages as well as stunts that can be used to keep any offense off balance. Well worth the investment. Will Rey is a wonderful teacher of the game."

- David from Peachtree City, Georgia

Resource: Will Rey's 1-3-1 Zone Defense Videos

If you want to learn the step by step process for building Will Rey's disruptive 1-3-1 zone defense, go to the following page to learn more and gain instant access to the videos and supplemental eBook.

Will Rey's 31 Defense - The Disruptive 1-3-1 Zone Defense

What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...


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Roger Kent says:
6/29/2020 at 11:03:59 PM

Sounds good for high school and college level but hope MTM is taught at the lower levels.


Tom Lacher says:
10/7/2018 at 10:15:04 AM

This video is EXCELLENT!!!

I am a huge Coach Rey fan and I can honestly say no one does a better job of teaching the 1-3-1 zone than him.

Every aspect is covered; from reasons to play a zone to implementation to adjustments are explained and broken down thoroughly.

If you are even remotely interested in playing zone you will not be disappointed with Coach Rey''s 1-3-1.
We have added this to our main defense (match-up zone) and it has been fantastic!


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