Defeating the Half Court Zone Trap

The Half Court Zone Trap Press Offense

A Half-Court Zone Trap Press is another version of pressure defense that can disrupt your team and cause them a lot of trouble.   It certainly happened to my teams a couple of times early in my career. Eventually I learned to have a half court press attack ready at the beginning of every year and reviewed it often during the season.

In a half court trap, opponents will attempt to trap you as you cross the mid court line and no sooner.  The best way to beat this press is the same as any other; that is, beat it up court before the opponents can set up.  Use the (4) to (2) long inlet pass option or the (4) to (1) to (2) quick passes up the sideline.  But if neither quick attack option is available, we brought the ball up under control on the dribble, but with One Big Exception.  The point guard did NOT cross the mid court line UNLESS he could easily get 15 feet past that line.  (Diagram #1)  The defense wants you to dribble it across so they can trap you inside the mid court line, thus, using it as a third defender and eliminating the back pass option.  The best attack is to dribble near to the mid court line, but not across, draw the defense toward the ball, and then use the Four Looks: sideline, middle, cross court, and reverse. (Diagram #2) When reversed, the (4) will usually be able to hit the opposite wing on his side of the court as the zone defense tries to recover to that side.  The middle man (5) must be used as much as possible though, to force the defense to cover the middle.  This opens the reverse pass option and leads to a wing pass to the (5) cutting for a potential inside score.  The wings (2) and (3) should space out behind defenders on their respective sides of the court, looking for a pass over the top of those defenders from (1) or (4). Or if needed, the (2) and (3) can flash up from behind their defenders to receive a pass from (1) or (4) in the backcourt.

Once the ball enters the forecourt, players should continue to keep the court spread with (2) and (3) in the corners, (5) in the middle, with (1) and (4) at the top, behind the 3 point line. As long as the defense keeps trapping, this formation (a 2-1-2), allows for easier swing passes and reverses which makes the defense scatter and scramble to cover your team.  This can lead to some great opportunities for open looks at 3’s, inside/outside/inside passing, and drives in seams created by the scrambles. Along with ball movement, you will free up (5) in the low or mid post, or your shooters in the corners. If the defense stops trapping and drops into a regular Zone or Man to Man defense, you can quickly shift to the appropriate offensive set. A key is to look to score inside early, before the defense can recover from any trapping pressure. When a great scoring opportunity is not available, then move to the appropriate offensive half court set. With my teams, the (4) would move to the post if the defense dropped into a non-trapping defense. That way we had our Hi/Low Offense set for a Zone or Man to Man attack.

Key Teaching Points:

  • Recognize Half Court Traps and avoid dribbling across mid-court and stopping.
  • As long as an opponent is trapping, keep it spread and move the ball.
  • Don’t settle for rushed or poor shot attempts.  Use the extra pass and score.
  • Point Guard take inlet pass on the left side sometimes to change up.
  • Review these Press Attacks regularly in your practices, either 5 vs 5 or at least 5 vs 0.

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