1-1-3 Match-Up Zone Offers Viable Alternative To Man Defense

When your squad doesn’t have the athletes to run man defense for a full game, you need to have a counter plan.

By John Adam, Head Boys Coach, Lutheran High School, Parker, Colo.

I never had our team play zone defense. Zone defense, to me, was utilized by teams that were weak, lazy or both. I even scheduled my coaching-clinic decisions around avoiding zone-defense chatter. I never attended a speaker who was discussing zone defense. All of this work on my part made me a bit ignorant as to the real reasons why a team opts for a zone defense.

Then, a few seasons ago, I had a young team that did not have the ability to play a full 32 minutes of man defense. We stayed with teams for awhile but, inevitably, our players were exposed during the later stages of several games. Realizing I needed to make a move to counter our weakness, I devised a 1-1-3 match-up zone (called the 1-1-3 Match-Up) that incorporates many man-defense principles.

Once we committed to the 1-1-3, success came quickly. We had a plan in place to slow down teams with superior talent. We managed to frustrate almost all of our opponents despite not having enough speed or athletic ability to play man-to-man defense for an entire game.

Even if you are committed to playing man defense all the time (as I once was), there still is something to be taken from our 1-1-3 Match-Up. It’s a fantastic change of pace that doesn’t cause a drop-off in the intensity level of your players.

Be sure to pay close attention to the drills at the end of the article as we used them daily when first installing this defense. We emphasized the importance of players flying around the floor within this defense and forced them to realize that if a mistake is to be made, you’d much rather have it come from too much movement rather than from too much standing still.

Setup & Movements

The basic alignment for the 1-1-3 Match-Up is a 1-1-3 zone, which features a point defender, another perimeter defender positioned just above the free-throw line and three post defenders.


1-1-3 Match-Up ZoneDIAGRAM 1: 1-1-3 Setup. There are two coverage areas in the 1-1-3 Match-Up defense. X1 and X2 handle everything above the free-throw line while the three big players (X3, X4 and X5) are interchangeable and cover the space from the free-throw-line extended to the baseline.


1-1-3 Match-Up ZoneDIAGRAM 2: Initial Pass.
X1 picks up the ball at the mid-court line and influences it to a sideline alley (the area within six feet of the sideline), preferably the left side of the court (to force the point guard to dribble with the left hand, which typically is the weaker hand). X1 stays with the ball handler until the initial pass is made.

On the first pass to the wing, X3 closes out on the ball coming from the strong-side block. X3 influences the ball to the corner and discourages a ball reversal by staying on the ball handler’s “high hip.” X5 slides into the low-post area and full-fronts any post players. X1 and X2 drop to the free throw line and guard the high post with their backs to the baseline.


1-1-3 Match-Up ZoneDIAGRAM 3: Pass To Corner. On the pass to the corner, X5 closes out to the ball and X3 sprints to the low block. X3 must sprint, not slide, in order to deflect any quick post entries. If X3 is moving hard, you rarely give up any post feeds.


1-1-3 Match-Up Zone

DIAGRAM 4: Corner-To-Wing Pass. A pass from the corner back to the wing has X2 closing to the ball and X1 moving to the ball-side elbow. X3, X4 and X5 rotate back into position.


1-1-3 Match-Up Zone
DIAGRAM 5: Wing-To-Point Pass. When the pass is made back to the point, the guards work in tandem with X1 closing to the ball and X2 hustling back to the free-throw line.


Continued on next page…

1-1-3 Match-Up Zone Offers Viable Alternative To Man Defense

When your squad doesn’t have the athletes to run man defense for a full game, you need to have a counter plan.

By John Adam, Head Boys Coach, Lutheran High School, Parker, Colo.




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P.O. Box 128
Sparta, MI 49345
616.887.9008
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