Unique Features Make The 1-2-2 Zone Adaptable To Any Opponent By Duane Estep

Our girls’ varsity coaching staff worked hard on developing a unique series based on the 1-2-2 defense. The result of our efforts is what we call the 50 Lion defense.

We execute our 1-2-2 defense in several ways. First we play a regular 1-2-2 set.

Second we move our big girls out front. Third we “jump” in our 50 Jump and occasionally we trap out of all three sets.

Diagram 1: Initial Set.

50 Regular

Diagram 2: 50 Regular.
We play our 2 guard up top to pressure the ball and drive it sideline. We place our 1 guard (usually our best defender) on the opponent’s dominant side. 1 picks up the ball as 2 drops in to the elbow. 5 fronts and both 3 and 4 drop to the help side.

50 Big

Diagram 3: “50 Big Initial Set”.
Over the course of two seasons we discovered a benefit in playing our post players out front in the 1-2-2 set. We found that we could disrupt the perimeter game of our opponents. It was difficult for our opponent’s smaller guards to shoot and pass over our big girls.

We play our X3 up top to pressure the ball. X4 forward plays the opponent’s strong side of the floor. We protect X5 by putting that player on the weak side. X1 (best rebounder) plays the strong block while X2 plays the weak block.

Keys to 50 Big

  • Teach your post players to maintain a cushion on defense so the smaller guards can’t penetrate easily.
  • Teach your guards interior play.
  • Have your post players get down bend their knees and move their feet on defense to avoid fouls.
  • Switch in and out of this defense to confuse opponents.

    50 Jump

    Diagrams 4 5: 50 Jump.
    In our “Jump” version of the 1-2-2 we switch defensively in a zone.
    X1 picks up the ball and forces baseline.
    X5 jumps out on the ball and X1 crashes the block
    to cover the area that has been vacated by X5.
    X4 must cheat over to cover for X1.
    X3 must cover the weak side.
    We have found that most guards will see X5 vacate the block and they will try a lob or bounce pass on the baseline side giving X1 a chance to steal as X1 crashes the block.

    50 Trap

    We will occasionally trap out of our 50 series. We trap in several ways:

    Diagram 6: High Trap.
    X2 drives the ball then traps with X1.
    X5 cheats to cover the corner.
    X4 cheats to the low post and X3 covers the middle.

    Diagram 7: Low Trap.
    Dribble into corner.
    X1 forces the ball to the corner.
    X5 jumps out to trap with X1.
    X4 covers the low post.
    X3 covers the weak side.
    X2 covers the middle and the wing.

    Diagram 8: Low Trap.
    Pass to corner.
    X1 forces the pass to the corner then moves to trap with X5.
    X2 denies the pass to the wing area.
    X4 covers the low post while covers the middle and weak side.

    Diagram 9: Low Trap.
    Pass to corner with cutter.
    X1 forces pass to corner then moves to trap with X5.
    X2 covers the cutter until X4 picks up the move to the middle X3 covers the weak side.

    We realize we give up a little territory in our 50 Trap but if we are trapping we’re gambling and trying to force the action.

    Final Thoughts
    We are an aggressive team defensively and we press often because we like to dictate the action. We will also mix up our 50 series throughout the game.

    By mixing it up you keep your opponents on their heels.

    The biggest key to our 50 series is knowing your players’ capabilities and adjusting the defense to them.





  • 75 Applewood Dr. Ste. A
    P.O. Box 128
    Sparta, MI 49345
    616.887.9008
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