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Topic:  Attacking Match Up Defenses

Question from Eddie:
Do you have any offenses for attacking match-up zone defenses?

Answers and Comments

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Jeff says:
2/1/2016 at 8:17:29 AM

Yes, the slip can be open. You can experiment with slipping and sealing. It just depends where the screen occurs and the type of match up zone you're seeing.


Ryan says:
1/30/2016 at 10:04:37 PM

Will the slips by the screener not be open?


Jack Smith says:
2/15/2010 at 5:29:03 PM

Colleger Womens basketball- Best way to play against a 4 guard 1 power forward team?
Do you match or go with your strength of 3 fowards at 6'1 and 2 guards?


Coach V says:
12/2/2009 at 10:33:15 PM

we played against a matchup zone and were able to get longer open shots (long 2s and 3s) but could not hit them. What do you recommend to get the post more active?


Don Kelbick says:
11/3/2007 at 11:54:58 AM


Attacking match-up zones is as challenging an assignment as there is in coaching. Match-ups a hybrid defenses and no two are alike. They are best described as either man-to-man with zone principles or zones with man-to-man principles. Either way they are difficult for coaches to play against and confusing for players who have to execute against.

I used to coach a very effective match-up and to be honest, I didn't care what type of offense you ran. The effectiveness of a match-up is based in adjustment to the offense. They usually get better and more difficult to play against as the game goes on. The more they see a pattern in the offense the easier it is for it to adjust. For that reason, I would lean away from any offense that has a repeatable pattern or continuity.

I think the best offense against a match-up is a motion offense. Though commonly thought of as a man offense, a motion can be very effective against anything, with a few adjustments.

Space - really space out your offense. That will force the defense to spead and effectively force them to a more man-type principle. Once you know how they are playing you, they are easier to attack.

Screens - Screen in areas instead of screening players. Because of the switches in a match-up, screening a man will not be effective because your cutters will be passes off to another defender. By screening an area and positioning your cutter, you effectively force 1 player to play 2 men.

Attack from the weakside - send cutters away from the ball, protect them with flare sceens and throw over the top. This will force bigger shifts and longer recoveries by the defense which will open up all sorts of lanes to the basket and slow recovery will open perimeter shots.

Seal after screening - Be sure to seal after a screen. Because of the way match-ups pass off cutters, if you seal, you will usually be between the defender and the basket. You just have to put the ball in a position to be delivered.

Ball reversal - the ball must move side to side on the pass. Defensively, we always thought that the dribble was our friend. Since this defense matchs off the ball, when a player dribbled we all knew where we belonged.

In short - spead them out, reverse the ball, look to the screener.

I hope this helps. If you have other questions, feel free to contact me.

Don Kelbick
Contributing Editor - Breakthrough Basketball


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