It is not necessary to have 3-point shooters in order to beat zones.

It certainly makes it easier! But if that’s the answer, then most teams are in trouble.

You do have to have some players that can make a shot outside of the lane, however. If you have to depend on lay-ups only, then a zone will win. You must occasionally make a shot outside the lane in order to stretch the zone and get the ball inside. Every good zone offense will have a little bit of both – a threat from the outside and a threat from the inside.

But “outside” does not necessarily mean 3 pointers. If you can only shoot lay-ups, then you’re going to lose no matter what offense you run. There’s no magic pill for the inability to make a shot. And there’s no zone offense that creates only inside shots. If it existed, then everyone would run it and no one would play zones.

Zones must be attacked with a variety of weapons:

If the zone packs their coverage inside, then what are they giving up?

They’re giving up the ability to pressure you on the perimeter. They’ve allowed you to move the ball quickly from one side of the floor to the other.

Therefore, you should do this as much as you can in one possession to make the defense change positions from ball side to weak side as many times as possible. No single action that I’ve mentioned above will do it by itself; you should do all of them.

Notice that none of them involved shooting a 3-point shot. And of course, I believe that this can be done best with the Read & React.

4 Responses

  1. This was my girls varsity first year of running the read and react zone offense and we had great sucess I had some three point shooters that made this offense really work. Against 1-2-2 zones we put our post to go block to short corner and hooked and looked with my four guards. with dribble penetration we mad over 125 three pointers as a team and stretched the defense so we can drive and take short jumpers. I cannot wait to start year two of using this system. I even bought the shooting DVD to work on some of my younger girls to help them become shooters.

  2. There are a couple things I’d like to add. I agree that the fastbreak is a great weapon against zone defenses. When we are struggling against a team’s zone, especially if they are packing the lane in a tight 2-3, I often tell my players to push the ball. In my opinion, the easiest way to beat a zone is to beat it down the floor.

    One of the things we’ve done with the Read and React to help with zones plays off of the idea of passing, seam cutting, and sitting in a window for one pass. We’ve changed it a little bit, though and we Pass-and-Post. We start in a 5-out set against zones most of the time, because we see a lot of 2-3 zone and I found the 5-out to be the easiest way to stretch the zone initially. From that we pass, seam cut, and the post up on the middle defender on the bottom. We maintain that posted-up position for one pass, then fill out to the perimeter. It works well on the pass from the wing to the corner if our wing player attacks the cut and post. We can seal, and get the ball on the block. A lot of times we end of seeing the outside defender doubling down, but off of that post entry we get a Laker-cut high, which provides another scoring opportunity.

    I’m not going to try to convince you that I am tearing teams up with this, because our execution isn’t always the greatest (I coach a JV girls team in the first year of a rebuilding process). However, when we do it right, it is tough to beat. I have found the key is to preach an aggressive cut, more similar to the speed of a man-to-man cut (I believe they’ve been described as “lightning cuts” in another post) as opposed to the zone speed cuts (the aforementioned post described these as “banana cuts”). If the cut is hard, your cutter can beat the middle defender to his rotation and seal more easily, and in a better position to score.

    In the end, these are just my thoughts. If you have anything you can think of to build on this I would be interested to hear it.

  3. This is a great site.

    I would like to add the fastbreak as another weapon to beat the zone. You can create gaps in the zone when they have to react quickly to your attack.

  4. We won most of our games and the championship below the 3 point area. The percentages were higher as they shot closer to the basket. I remembered when I played ball eons ago we never had a 3 point line thus learned how to use the inner court effectively. Many of our practices would entail learning how to execute below the 3 point area. We would put cones on the 3 point line and if the team crossed the 3 point boundary, it was considered a turnover. During a game R@R allowed a quick team like ours to penetrate, pass, hook and look effectively. They took fewer 3 point shots but were more effective. We defeated a good 3 point shooting team in the championship game. If they had used the R@R offense we would have had little chance to defeat them. Thanks for this great program and support.This is a great website. Keep it going.

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