Yo Yo - Zone Offense


This is a very simple zone offense that can be used at any level. It works best against a 2-3 zone.


Players 1, 2, & 3 should be your wing players and Players 4 & 5 should be your post players.


  1. You will want to start your players out in this set.

  2. Player 1 can pass it to either wing.

  3. If Player 1 passes it to Player 2, Player 5 goes to the high post area on the ball side. Player 4 slides from the block to the short corner. The short corner is about 2 to 3 feet away from the baseline and 2 to 3 feet outside the lane.

  4. Player 2 looks to pass the ball to Player 5 in the high post or Player 4 in the low post area if possible.

    When the ball is on the wing, the wing player should not be in a rush. He should be patient to look at how the defense reacts and try to find a hole in the defense.

  5. If nothing is there, Player 2 will swing the ball back to Player 1. Within this offense, you do not want to hold the ball at the top of the key. That's why it is important for Player 1 to quickly swing the ball to Player 3.

  6. When the ball is passed to Player 1, Player 5 flashes in the middle of the lane looking for a quick entry pass if open. This will only be there for a split second, because Player 1 is going to swing the ball quickly to Player 3. As soon as the pass goes to Player 3, Player 5 will go to the short corner.

  7. Player 4 will stay put until the pass goes to Player 3. Once this happens, Player 4 will go to the high post area on the ball side.

  8. Player 3 looks for entry passes into Player 4 or Player 5.

  9. If Player 4 & 5 are not open, Player 3 can pass it to Player 1 or throw a skip pass to Player 2. Player 1 glances to see if there is an open gap in the zone, then swings the ball to Player 2.

  10. If Player 2 throws an entry pass into Player 5. Player 5 can turn and look for the open jump shot or attack the basket.

    Another option for Player 5 is to turn and throw a pass to Player 4 who should try to slide in behind the zone defense for an open lay up.


    Here is another variation to the yo-yo offense which will provide more movement for the wing offensive players:

  11. When Player 1 throws the ball to the wing, he cuts to the opposite wing, instead of staying at the top of the key.

    Player 2 replaces Player 1 at the top of the key. Players 4 & 5 continue their normal movements in the post area.

    This helps if you find your wing players becoming complacent.

  12. Like before, Player 3 looks into the post for an entry pass. If nothing is open, he returns the pass to Player 2.

    Player 4 slides into the seam underneath the free throw line.

  13. Player 2 passes the ball to Player 1. Player 2 cuts to the opposite wing and Player 3 replaces Player 2 to at the top of the key.

    Post Players 4 & 5 continue their normal movement within the offense. Player 4 cuts to the short corner and Player 5 flashes to the high post.

    When a Player is coming across the lane into the high post like player 5 is in this diagram. We sometimes teach him to shuffle his feet across the lane, so he doesn't fly past an open seem to quickly.

  14. Here is the positions that your players should be in with the ball on the wing:


Recommended Products and More Zone Plays:

Beating the Zone - 75 Set Plays to Score Against Zone Defense
In this eBook, you will find 75 zone plays that you can use against any zone defense. It includes 2-3 zone plays, 3-2 zone plays, 1-3-1 zone plays, baseline out of bounds plays, and multi-purpose zone plays. You will also learn how to exploit the weaknesses of zone defenses, learn new ideas for running zone plays, and much more ... (more info)

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


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maher matar says:
8/30/2007 at 5:12:38 PM

i would like to thank you for these points ,as you we need all the time to get new ideas ,because basketball is full of fresh ideas that could help the coaches,neverthess,i noticed that in this drill or whatever u call it ,i did not see any idea about going inside ,i mean i did not see any idea that we could offer to the guards so as if they have the chance to go inside ,

again thank you

  1 reply  

Ted says:
11/6/2017 at 2:57:11 PM

I am coaching a group of 10-11 year old girls. They are a lot of fun, and they improve dramatically  on skills each week. They even learn plays, and defenses.

But then, in games, things break down. Our PGs get defensive pressure, and basically cannot make the first pass to initiate whatever play we are trying to run. And, of course, once the team gets out of sync, it's difficult to get good shots, or even to keep from turning the ball over. (There is a lot of dribbling around - head down - into the corner, or throwing passes and hoping a team mate will catch it.)

So I'm trying to find some way to focus some teaching time on making that FIRST pass. Some of the things I've tried were to modify the pass to a dribble handoff, or to have a team mate try to set a pick to get the PG some extra space and time. But plays break down when the timing gets changed, players aren't in the same positions.

Any suggestions are appreciated,


  1 reply  

Jeff says:
11/7/2017 at 10:38:39 AM

Ted - Teach them motion offense and just build their skills and decision making via small sided games.

I would not run plays to solve problems for young kids. Instead run a simple motion, teach them "how to play", and use fundamentals to solve those problems. Players will be better of in the long run. Practice dribbling under pressure with eyes up, protecting the ball, getting open via cuts and screens, spacing, decision making on when to pass, and so on.

Sounds like kids just need a lot of skill development and practice. Even if you get the first pass made, they'll struggle with the second pass without time spent on the fundamentals and decision making.

Good luck!


Joe Haefner says:
9/1/2007 at 5:46:35 PM

Hi Maher,

The guards should always be looking to pass the ball into the post area if the post player is open.


babak says:
10/14/2007 at 2:13:34 PM

thank you


maher matar says:
10/15/2007 at 4:17:43 AM

hi joe ,thank very much for all the ideas that ur heping us with ,i have a question for ,how to play against a [ 3-2 zone] and also if it's possible how to play against [ man to man defense ] again thank you very much and god bless you .

best regards .. Maher Matar .


Joe Haefner says:
10/15/2007 at 7:27:31 AM

Hi Maher,

You can look here for a simple offense to use against man to man defenses: http://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/plays/youth-offense-2.html

We will be adding more offenses here shortly and you'll be notified in our newsletter.


Don Cameron says:
11/20/2007 at 11:11:44 AM

I would like to see info on attacking a 3-2 zone defense


herb says:
11/22/2007 at 4:01:45 PM

very good. i've been running that same play for about 5 years but i like the rotation of the 4 and 5 men. thanks


chuck says:
11/23/2007 at 9:58:53 AM

Which type of offence works best against a 2-1-2 zone? I have 7 and 8 year old players, any ideas?
Tha nks


Jeff Haefner says:
11/26/2007 at 11:35:14 AM


To be completely honest with you, I would not worry about teaching 7 and 8 year olds how to beat a 2-1-2 zone.

There more important things than winning and your players will be MUCH better off in the long run by learning other things.

In fact, zones, traps, and presses should be against the rules for youth kids of that age. You should find a better league with rules for youth kids.

Your players should learn fundamentals like proper shooting form, pivoting footwork, ballhandling skills, basic motion offense movements (cuts, screens, etc).

For offense, we don't spend much time with youth players. We just teach them basic spacing and simple motion movements as explained at one of the links below.

Read a couple of these articles for more tips and ideas for kids of that age:




I know this wasn't the answer that you’re looking for but it's what best for your players.

Jeff Haefner


Jeff Haefner says:
11/26/2007 at 11:56:26 AM


If you do stay in that league, the only thing can do against a 2-1-2 zone is to put your kids on the gaps:

1 player at top of key
2 wings
2 corners
1 player roaming the middle block area

They can fill the gaps, pass the ball around, and look for open seams in the defense. They can also do some basic cuts and same fundamental skills done against man to man.



Kim Bourgeois says:
12/4/2007 at 7:56:00 PM

I like this version of this zone offense. I would suggest that the offside wing should also be pinching into the gap to encourage the defenders to pay more attention to the weakside. Thanks for all the help!!!


reggie says:
12/20/2007 at 10:21:28 AM

we ran this same play last year. great play if the ball move around quickly


Mark Blair says:
1/2/2008 at 3:43:21 PM

This is a great zone offense. I have used it for years and we have been very successful with it. It is very hard to stop it especially if your 4 and 5 can shoot from the short corner.


Tony K says:
1/10/2008 at 8:07:41 AM

I hated basketball as a kid. Now I coach my son's team and am in my 5th year!. Since finding this site I have developed a love for the sport.

Teaching 5th and 6th graders this sport has been easier because I have to learn it as I go. No pre-concieved notions - just like them.

Our kids have found their creative juices in the 1-3-1 set. If you look at the drills, it's easy to find ones that teach wing play, post play and guard ball handling skills that feed into this offense.

Thanks, and Great Job.


Enfuego (Eric) says:
1/18/2008 at 2:10:05 AM

I have a rec league high school team with 3 scorers, (2 Guards, 1 point forward) 2 average players (1 guard, 1 SF), and 3 players who struggle understanding the game.

There is rules about playing time also.

Teams are starting to play 2-3 zone against us because the lower players really struggle to get theses offensive concepts.

What is a 2-3 zone offense I can use to get the PG, SG, and point forward the ball and shots?


chris servas says:
3/10/2008 at 7:59:04 PM

how about using jump passes.i think it's the most effective pass in basktball


Joe (Co-Founder of Breakthrough Basketball) says:
3/11/2008 at 6:08:09 AM

Most coaches don't like "Jump Passes." If a player jumps to pass the ball and the passing lane closes, they are stuck and have to force a pass which will often result in a turnover.


rishi says:
3/19/2008 at 11:00:05 AM

thanks man the advice of the offense above is just great. it actually laid our team to season victory.


SR Hoops says:
3/28/2008 at 2:52:38 PM

One thing I found about running a close variation of this offense is that the perimeter players might have a tendency to become inactive. I added an option out of this that we call 13 GO (we call this offense "13" for the formation).

In 13 GO, the 4 moves more to the corner. After the wing passes to the corner, he cuts to the basket for a potential give and go pass back. If he is not open, he continues through the lane and to the opposite wing. The point then fills the vacated wing and the offside wing fills the point. This creates movement in the offense and makes the defense honor the cutters, opening up other holes in the defense.


3/30/2008 at 5:58:15 AM



john says:
5/18/2008 at 7:18:03 PM

what''s a good offense against a 2/2/1 defense that picks you up right past half court? we have trouble getting set up to run our plays. thanks so much for your input.


Joe Haefner says:
5/22/2008 at 9:03:34 AM

Hi John,

Personally, I llike to keep it simple. Here's what I do against presses.

Use a 2-1-2 formation. Put two guards in the back court. One player in the middle. Two players on the on opposite sidelines slightly past half-court. You can adjust this based on how the press is playing. You can have them come back to the ball or stay deep.

Have the two guards pass the ball back and forth while trying to get the ball in the middle or down the court to the wings.

Joe Haefner

If the ball gets to the middle, he can look to pass it to the players on the wings or hold the ball until one of the guards get open to get the pass returned to them.

If they get the ball to the wing players, they usually have a 2-on-1 fast break opportunity.


archie says:
6/15/2008 at 5:35:55 AM



Billy Bob Thornton says:
10/23/2008 at 8:43:19 PM

Hey, I in 8th grade basketball, this help me a lot!!! Thanks!


Tyler Schmid says:
12/13/2008 at 2:47:58 PM

Hey, i like to look at these cause these plays actually work. I am in 8th grade and this play looks good and im going to show my coach this. Thanks for the play, it looks like it will work pretty well



rogelito says:
1/10/2009 at 8:44:40 AM

it's a good play. how about if we run like this: the post player occupied the short corner will go directly to other side where the ball is located and the player occupying the high post player moves from one elbow to another following the ball movement. that's only a suggestion


tyler hansbrough says:
1/14/2009 at 6:46:44 PM

this helped me a whole lot thanks il use it in games


Byron B says:
1/27/2009 at 9:04:11 PM

I am coaching 5th and 6th grade girls and I believe this will work really well. However, I would appreciate some counsel because most of my guards are beginners and cannot move the ball well (dribble or pass) and I do not want to be so transparent that we provide the defense with steals. Do you think this is a good approach (Yo Yo) for a team of beginner guards with experienced forwards?
Thanks so much for this bountiful site!

Byron B


gds34 says:
5/2/2009 at 5:41:59 PM

We've always called this same play "X." A good base zone offense. Maybe this could be another option for someone:

When the ball goes to either wing, a team can also look for an opening for the opposite wing player slashing somewhere around the middle of the lane. The 12 footer will more than likely be there for a quick shot, or even an attack to the basket for a lay-up. If not there, the opposite wing cutter should recognize they're not open and pop back out in order to avoid clogging things up. Looking for that opening and making a cut like that will also help keep the defense a little more honest.

Thanks for the site and the work you put into it!


Gary Jones says:
12/12/2009 at 6:56:22 PM

just a sugestion When the ball is on the wing pass to short corner if undefended a straight forward jump shot if defended player at the top cuts to ring short corner passes ball in to cutter works for me.


Tony Hudson says:
12/28/2009 at 5:18:59 PM

I had a question with using a 2-1-2 offense against a press. Which players would you put where? Obviously the 1 and 2 guards would be in the back court, but how would you place the 3,4,5 in a full court press?


Joe Haefner says:
12/29/2009 at 11:13:46 AM

You can place them however you want. I usually put the 5 in the middle and 3 and 4 on the sideline. 3 and 4 have to be able to catch and drive to the basket. 5 must be able to catch, pivot, and pass under pressure.


12/29/2009 at 5:22:17 PM




Craig Peplin says:
4/26/2010 at 3:34:33 PM

I've been running a play similar to this for several seasons for Middle and elementary school kids. I call it criss-cross and frankly thought I invented it myself till I saw this site today. I even have the same variation of the weak side wing and PG switching. I strongly recommend 1 more part that will get you several baskets a game. When either 4 or 5 get the ball - the weak side wing breaks toward the basket for a dump pass/layup or to get a weak side rebound. if they dont get the ball - they kick back to their wing spot.
Caution if the ball goes to a wing then quickly to 4/5 the switch and cut is behind the play.


darko says:
9/26/2010 at 10:15:37 AM

"Hi Maher,

The guards should always be looking to pass the ball into the post area if the post player is open. "

Maher, asked if there is any play for guards, beside passing. i meen any play for them to score????


guy says:
5/10/2011 at 7:31:10 AM

My team has done this for years.
Works quite well just not time after time.


Cassidy says:
7/18/2011 at 8:58:55 PM

This is a GREAT site i am only 12 and i LOVE basketball, and in the summer i go to the gym and i like to have some drills and this site improved my game! Thanks so much for helping me become a better player!


Coach Roberts says:
12/20/2011 at 4:52:48 PM

I have run a variation of this with middle schoolers, and it works very well. I would add only that the wing who feeds the post should slide to the corner to occupy the block defender in the 2-3. The low player should stay behind the second line of defense and flash into the gap once the defense rotates on the post pass. It makes the dump down easy. If you get that a couple of times, the block defender will start to stay home, which will open up the corner for a catch and shot or catch-shot-fake-jumper.

Remember to teach the kids to move the ball quickly and to use pass and shot fakes. You'll demoralize the zone.


bismark oregon says:
12/26/2011 at 11:57:14 PM

This is great, my players are doing just as mentioned they are falling complacent at the wings...and at the 4 and 5 as well..." Very easy" and not to demanding.


2/14/2012 at 11:57:11 AM

We need to know a play in respect of the new 3pts modification


Google says:
11/16/2012 at 5:37:12 AM

How do we breakthrough a zone defense with players 20-30 cm than our team? (We don't have 3-point shooters)


Coach Brooks says:
11/30/2012 at 10:29:22 AM

I Disagree with Coach Haefner. Why not play in youth leagues that allow pressing and/or all types of defenses? This is what these kids will face as soon as they move up. Yes it is good to teach the fundamentals first and foremost as this is the basis for learning this great game of ours,however I am of the opinion one can do both teach the fundamentals and play in the qusi more competitive leagues which will produce the better basketball athlete in the long run.


Coach Brooks says:
11/30/2012 at 10:34:33 AM

@ google... one of the best ways to breakthrough a zone defense with players taller than yours is simply to outrun it. Take a look at developing a good transition game and incorporate it into your gameplan. another way is a pretty decent zone screening offense (box sets).and simply using these plays to force the zone to mis-rotate...try those things and I guarantee you will play against zone defenses better. let me know how that works out for you


Jeff Haefner says:
11/30/2012 at 11:34:43 AM

Coach Brooks -

Take a look at this article and let us know what you think:

Thanks for the feedback.


Ken says:
11/30/2012 at 2:35:27 PM

Coach Brooks -

Take a look at the article Jeff sent... you will see how many coaches feel that m2m is the way to go, including myself... especially at the younger ages.

Jeff suggested 3 on 3 games, that would make all these arguements a moot point.

Usually younger teams play zones because its easier to teach and you can win more.... young kids cant shoot well from the perimiter.... makes the zones look great.

There is so much to teach younger kids, take that time and spend it on fundamentals and don't worry about the Ws. You can read some of my posts along with Jeff & Joes and you will know where we stand and why.


john says:
12/3/2012 at 10:06:51 PM

used this play for years called it iowa since tom davis ran it when there. the only difference the post player or the mirror we call her goes from post to block.and the girl in corner just runs the baseline corner to corner usually best shooter as ball goes from side to side always lookin in to the mirror as she rolls with ball or looking for the shooter running corner to corne my 4th grade girls picked it up in 2 practices and run it great swinging the ball. my jr college team i helped with years ago ran it.this is a great offense simple to run and the more advance the kids are the more variations you can add. glad to see you have it posted to help out younger coaches and kids.


eric says:
1/29/2014 at 11:36:08 PM

looking at a variation of the 1-3-1 setup for 14 year olds. constant passing and a lot of back and forth. so for example 2 dumps off to 4 and immediately heads to the corner for an immediate pass back from 4. then either take an open shot, or pass back to 4 if open or to 5 if he has a clear path to the basket.

the scenario would be similar depending on where the ball goes on the first pass, but players better be both moving right after they pass and be ready for a pass back. even if it's just wing to post back to wing then back to post again to keep the defense wondering instead of dumping into the post for a 1-on-1 matchup under the basket.

what type of offense is this most similar to that i should be looking at ?

thanks for all you guys do!


jimbo says:
6/16/2014 at 11:20:10 PM

it would be nice to have a picture showing option of pass to low post in short corner...thanks great work


Brian Sass says:
1/25/2015 at 11:05:17 AM

I like this offense and always have liked similar offenses for attacking zones.

I do have a couple of questions though:

1.) The offense described above seems to be more designed to attack an even-front zone defense.

Are their adjustments that can be made to attack an odd front?

Could the high post step out and the point and backside guards drift back a space to create a 4-1 look, while keeping the same X pattern in the lane?

2.) I don't like the static movement of the perimeter players. Can they do more than fill those areas?

Ideas: Interchange backside after making a pass a wing.
Cut through the defense backside of the post players and replace with the wing opposite.

Would this keep backside players in the zone occupied and draw eyes away from the playside players and action?

Is this feasible? What do you think?

  1 reply  

Joe Haefner says:
1/25/2015 at 12:37:26 PM

1) I have never used this offense against an odd front.

You could try having the high post step out. I think Bo Ryan had a zone offense with similarities to that. I can't remember the motion off the top of my head.

I typically use this zone offense offense against odd fronts:

2) On the static movement, I like to interchange backside after making a pass to the wing.

Another option is to have the players rotate perimeter and post spots after each pass.

- Have the passer cut to the high post in a gap.
- Have the high post player find a spot open in the short corner or corner.
- Have the short corner player, fill a perimeter spot.

Lots of different things you can do with success. However, all offenses stink if you don't have good players. Players that can shoot, dribble, pass, and make good decisions.

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