1.3.1 Full court trapping zone (2-2-1)
Full Court Trapping
The key to a successful full court “trap” is that players act decisively and aggressively. They are unlikely to make the right decision all the time, but if they communicate well and move with purpose they are likely to be successful.
A full court “trap” is often used to change the tempo of the game, which it can do in two ways. First, if they are successful in causing the offence to commit turnovers, the defensive team will create a lot of fast break situations.
Secondly, it can also increase the tempo of the game by forcing the offence to take longer to get into their “half court” offence, then having to rush their shot.
This “stealing time” can often be as valuable as stealing the ball itself, as it may cause the offence to rush their shots or to make poor shot decisions.
Many teams will beat full court “man to man” defence, by either:
- Having four players move into the front court, leaving a 1x1 contest in the back court as there is no “help” defender in position to double team, or “jump” (switch);
- Having a player other than the point guard bring the ball up – often a forward whose defender will be less proficient in defending in the full court.
A “trapping”, or zone defence, can counter both of these strategies as players defend assigned areas, based upon the position of the ball, not individual offensive players.
Accordingly, even if four offensive players moved into the front court, there would still be 2 or 3 defenders in the back court. Similarly, even if a forward was used to dribble the ball, there would be defensive guards in the back court.
There are a number of alignments that can be used for full court “traps” (or zone presses).
The principles of each are essentially the same, although the alignments differ. Once players understand and are able to implement those principles in one alignment, they can relatively quickly adapt to a different alignment.
“2 – 2 – 1 Trap” – Initial Alignment
It is common for the two guards to play in the front line of the trap. However, if there is a forward that has good foot speed, the extra arm length can be useful.
The defence want the first pass to be caught towards the sideline and not in the middle of the court. They also want it caught close to the baseline. Accordingly x1, x2, x3 and x4 deny cutters in an attempt to influence them to receive the first pass in one of the shaded areas.
Movement After First Pass
- x1 (or x2 on the other side of the court) immediately pressures 1. Containing the dribbler is crucial.
- x2 moves to the middle of the court and guards the white circled area. They must not be “face cut” (i.e. an offensive player getting between them and the ball).
- x3 moves to the sideline and must be in the passing lane – able to prevent a pass to 3, defending the blue circled area.
- x4 moves to cover the middle of the court. Again, no face cutters – defending the green circled area.
- x5 is the “safety”. They move to the side of the ball, but must be conscious of any offensive player moving to the basket. They defend the red circled area.
These positions are consistent with “man to man” principles, with x2 and x4 moving along the split line.
Trapping a Dribbler
Teams can look to double team the dribbler in the back court (particularly close to half way) where possible. This can be done by x1 “channelling” the dribbler towards x3 or “turning” the dribbler and x2 double teams.
- x3 can also “help and recover” to put pressure on the dribbler. They should only trap if the dribbler is not in control.
- x2 must stay with the “line of ball” to ensure that they are in a position to pressure any dribble to the centre of the court and to double team if necessary.
- x4 similarly moves back toward the basket. x5 moves further to the sideline to deny any pass along the sideline, particularly as x4 moves back toward the keyway and can guard the basket.
If x3 does double team, the x5 is responsible to intercept any pass along the sideline.