Breakthrough Basketball Newsletter:
Zone Offense With No Shooters?

November 29, 2020

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  • Zone Offense With No Shooters?


Zone Offense With No Shooters?

Ages: Youth, Middle School, High School, College/Professional
Audience:Coaches

Recently, I received this question.

Reader Comment: This is my third year coaching 8th grade girls basketball. I come from a basketball family but I only played until 8th grade. I struggle with finding efficient offenses to run against a zone defense when I donít have any shooters.

As Iím sure youíre already aware of, if you donít have any shooters, zone defenses are going to be difficult to combat because they can easily collapse on your inside threats.

The best offenses have a threat at the basket (via dribble attack or post play) and a threat to shoot from the perimeter.

So hereís what I would do:

Step 1 - Figure out a way to help develop more shooters

  • Host offseason shooting workouts

    You could host mini-camps or weekly sessions during the offseason. You could do this before the season starts or after the season.

  • Allocate more practice time for shooting

    Around 7th grade is when I would start to allocate more time during the season to shooting. Here is a sample of how I develop shooters:
    How To Develop Into A Great Shooter - 6 Shooting Drills To Do At Every Workout

    Depending on the amount of time, I would allocate 10 to 15 minutes each day on form shooting.

  • Schedule additional shooting practices during the season

    If you have the luxury of getting more gym time, you could even schedule an extra practice solely for shooting.

    I canít emphasize how much of a difference this can make during a season.

    If you donít have that luxury...

  • Create shooting workouts players can do at home

    You could assign foundational shooting workouts to your players.
    To save coaches and parents time, we developed a Breakthrough Shooting and Scoring System that has weekly step-by-step workouts that players can access on their computer, iphone, or any tablet or smart device. There are share-plans for parents and coaches working with teams.

    And players can develop at their own speed. You can assign them different workouts.

Step 2 - Teach Universal Zone Offense Concepts and Find a Zone Offense that Adheres to Your Strengths

Personally, I like to teach universal zone offense concepts. That way, players develop a skill set and a basketball IQ to beat any zone defense.

Additionally, if you work with youth players, this empowers them to have success with any program they play for in the future.

Here are a few examples of universal zone offense concepts:

  • Position yourself so two defenders guard one. This creates confusion for the defense. Sometimes both may commit to one player. Sometimes no defenders will commit to the offensive player.
  • Cut and replace. This is where an offensive player cuts and momentarily drags a zone defender with them. Then another offensive player just fills the spot where the first offensive player cut from.
  • Put your best playmaker in the high post. That way, they can turn and attack the defense to score or attract multiple defenders to find an open teammate.
  • Cutting to gaps or space.
  • As the late Ken Sartini used to always tell me, ďGo where they ainít.Ē

If you have good ball handlers, you might screen the top zone defenders.

If you have really good post players, you might put two or three offensive players in the low and high post.

If you have really good slashers, you might do more cutting.

You might take the first shot you can get and rely on offensive rebounding.

Also, hereís a simple zone offense that you can use against odd and even fronts:
2-1-2 Zone Offense - Use This Against Any Zone Defense

If youíd like a more-detailed offensive approach, we also have these products for zone offense:

Continuity Zone Offense & Concepts to Beat Any Zone Defense with Don Kelbick

Beating the Zone - Set Plays to Score Against Zone Defense (If you coach players 14 years old and above.)

he following two are more comprehensive offensive systems that cover more topics. I personally use a lot of stuff from both programs.

Complete Offensive System with Tim Schuring

Motion Offense System with Don Kelbick

We would like to hear your thoughts as well. Are these good ideas to improve your zone offense? Do you think these are good approaches to improve shooting? Do you have other ideas?

Reply back to the email and let us know if you have any questions or feedback.


All the Best,

Joe Haefner
Breakthrough Basketball