The primary goal of a tight, containing 2-3 zone is to keep the ball out of the lane. Guards X1 and X2 play on the foul line extended, and are allowed one step below this. They start with about two feet between their extended arms. Forwards X3 and X4 start on and play level with the blocks. X4 should be a strong rebounder. Centre X5 moves up and down the lane as needed, calling cutters etc.
• Keep your arms up and out at all times.
• Use man to man techniques within your area.
• Move as a unit with the ball.
The 2-3 zone can be made "looser" by having the guards move above the foul line, and the forwards move up and out from the blocks.
This forces the offense to start further from the basket. However, the more compact the zone, the more stifling opposing offences will find it.
When an attacker dribbles down one side, the guard at that elbow steps out, the other guard slides across to the middle of the foul line. The other defenders also shift ball side.
One defender must always be responsible for the ball handler. The player guarding guarding the ball should yell "Ball" to clearly determine responsibility. Problems are created when the ball handler gets in a gap between defenders. Responsibility for deciding who has the ball is assigned to X1.
On a pass from the point guard to a wing, forward X3 comes out until guard X1 can get into position, then is "bumped" back by X1. The other guard (X2) slides over to the ball side elbow and centre X5 fills outside the low post.
Here are the positions with the ball on the wing.
When the ball is in the corner, X3 moves out, X5 quickly takes her place at the ball side block, and X1 discourages the pass to the high post.
Ball handlers are not guarded outside their shooting range - the defender responsible for the ball should not go out any further than the limit of the player's shooting range.
The defense should not allow dribble penetration. Guards X1 and X2 especially need to make sure that attackers never dribble penetrate down the middle. All players must know who has responsibility for the ball, and learn to leave their checks and pick up unguarded ballhandlers in scoring range (here X5 would step up if needed).
On passes back out to the top, the guards must recover quickly. The biggest problem with a zone defence is when players start getting lazy, arrive late, and the defence breaks down.
An attacking high post is covered by one of the two front row defenders.
Passes to post players should be denied.
In this situation, the high and low posts are guarded by a guard and a forward.
An effective strategy against a zone defense is to overload one side and then reverse the ball.
On the skip pass from O3 to O2, defending forward X3 initially bumps out to cover O2 and X5 moves down to cover the low post vacated by X3 (especially important if O4 dives to the low post). Once X1 has recovered to guard the ball, X3 and X5 get back.
Defensive slide on a pass from the wing to the corner.
Because defenders are not assigned specific players to box out in a zone defence, rebounding can be a problem.
Defenders can be assigned to box out attackers in designated areas.