How to Beat Zone Presses the Simple Way

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Zone presses can be difficult to beat. Players need to be prepared, and know how to react if a zone press is administered.

As a high school coach, I tried to find the simplest way to attack any defense with consistent principles that would work for any press. Rather than adjust to the defense, we played to our own strengths and used the same attack plan. These ideas might come in handy for you and would be easy to teach.

How Do You Beat Various Presses?

Many teams rely on a variety of presses throughout the course of a game. I have seen 1-2-1-1 full and three quarter presses, 2-2-1 full and three quarters presses, 1-3-1- presses and many more.

With so many types of presses that can be utilized against you, how do you properly prepare? I believe that the best approach is to attack all of the zones with the same basic ideas:

Invite the Double Team

First, after getting the ball in bounds, have your players cut to the open spots in the press by reading the defenders to determine where those openings are. Allow the player who receives the first pass in bounds to be double teamed. This will create a numbers advantage down court for the other players on your team.

Once You Beat the Trap

After that first double team occurs, coach your team to look to the middle of the court for the next pass or look down court for the easy lay-up. If none of those opportunities are available, reverse the ball to the weak side of the press. Always think trap, middle, down court, or opposite.

By the way, I used to have the first pass go to my best passing big man so he could face the double team and see over the top of it to pass to the middle preparing for us to reverse the ball.

Now Speed It Up and Make Them Pay!

I have seen many teams settle for getting the ball over half court and then slow down and set up an offense or settle for a quick jump shot. I advocate patience with the ball until we beat the first double team and then once we got it over half court we would seek out the open man for a lay-up. Outside jump shots were not acceptable. We want to punish the pressing team by getting high percentage shots consistently. Jumpers lead to deep rebounds and fast break opportunities going the other way and potentially playing into the opponent’s game plan.

A double team from an aggressive team potentially creates easy, open shot opportunities for a team that is careful with the ball and follows a plan. It is even better when that plan is effective against all various types of presses.