There are a lot of reasons to teach zone defense. What I want to show readers here is how, by using man-to-man techniques while deploying zone defense, you can make your defense so much stronger and effective.
When starting out teaching defense, particularly at youth age levels, the basics necessarily require teaching man skills and techniques. This will include, and incorporate later into dynamic capabilities for individual defensive play, stance, sliding and movement, followed by 1-on-1 on-the-ball and off-the-ball techniques and rules.
Logic and good teaching procedure would use plateaus of learning, moving fromindividual lessons to 1-on-1, then 2-on-2, and so on, until reaching full team execution of man-to-man defense. It does no good to teach the team game before a child has been introduced to and hopefully mastered well enough the individual aspects of defense. When every player can play both on-the-ball and off-the-ball, the rules used in teaching these techniques will easily lead right into teaching team defense. It’s basically already been done at this point, because with five players following their individual on- and off-ball rules, they’ve got the basic structure for the team defense. Now it’s just a matter of teaching how to play and be effective as a group.
It’s very difficult to teach (read virtually impossible) zone defense in this same manner. Zone defense doesn’t lend itself to individual teaching and plateau building before arriving at the team game. We coaches pretty much across the board install a 5-man set to begin teaching zone defense and we pretty much all teach a similar structure—regardless of the zone set (1-2-2, 1-3-1, 2-1-2, etc.). We teach five men facing the ball in the set we’re using, and having backs turned on offensive players who may be behind the defense and away from the ball. Of course, let’s not forget the age-old declamations for players to get their “arms up”, and to slide laterally, in unison.
More advanced zone defensive teaching will incorporate many techniques and stunts to raise effectiveness and efficacy of the zone, but right now I’m appealing to the coach who uses zone defense because:
- They don’t know how to effectively teach man defense;
- They really like zone defense and don’t want to play man;
- The team is big, therefore zone really serves to pack the middle, or other reasons of strategy;
- They think teaching zone defense is the easiest way to teach defense.
No matter what the team individual attributes—big, small, criminal defense attorney phoenix az slow, quick—starting the teaching of defense with individual man techniques will improve a player’s understanding of defense and his/her performance on defense. At all levels of instruction, we must teach the individual before we teach the team, and this just can’t happen by starting right off with teaching zone defense.
In man defense, we should be teaching how to slide effectively to block an offensive player’s path. This is not a lateral slide with the feet even. This slide always will have the foot closest to the offensive player forward–pushing—while the foot in the direction of the offensive movement will be back and reaching. When our offensive player has the ball, we have learned how to play on the ball. Good man-defense teaching will include teaching the defender to play between the ball and the basket and how to maintain this position. We should also have taught how to play in help defense when playing off-the-ball, playing off our own man while at the same time being in a position to help the player who is playing on the ball. This one-and-a-half man philosophy is the backbone and strength of a zone. It’s a primary reason for teaching zone defense—to be able to close down any direct route to the basket. The other things mentioned earlier in this paragraph, when utilized in teaching zone, will make use of a zone more effective.