The Basic 2 – 1 – 2 [tag]Zone Defense[/tag] (box with a man in the middle)

“ It is one of the most commonly used zone defenses – especially when a team has smallish forwards and one very large person – who covers the middle. 

The reason this defense (or variations of it) is used is because it has several strengths.  These strengths include:

-“ Strong in the [tag]rebounding[/tag] triangle
-“ Excellent underneath in preventing low post moves
-“ The strong rebounding presence allows for one player to immediately break down the court for the fast break.

This [tag]basketball defense[/tag] is a little vulnerable against baseline jumpers, and if the ball is shifted down low, this opens up the top of the key.  Appropriately executed, this zone defense can cause your opponents a great deal of headaches.

1 and 2 man

If you have two tenacious defensive guards, this might be the defense for you.  Working together, these two players are responsible for protecting the perimeter from long distance shots.  If they are caught out too far without help from the 5 man, they can make the defense vulnerable to the center lane pass. 

These [tag]basketball[/tag] players need to be quick in order to cover the large area around half of the perimeter.  They also need to be able to make the burst long distance for the fast break. 

3 and 4 man

The 3 and 4 men in this defense differ from many of the other zone defenses.  You need very strong rebounders at this position, and they also have to be able to move well around the floor.  They too have a lot of area to cover, and they need to provide assistance to the 5 man when he or she is outnumbered.

Strong players at these positions are crucial to the success of this defense.

5 man

This is a position that requires the tallest player with the widest wingspan on the team.  They are your primary defender and rebounder when the ball goes down low.  The best way to describe the action of the 5 man is a circular motion that follows the direction of the pass.
This defense look like the number five on dice, with the 5 man in the middle.  One of the first lessons that you can teach your players with this defense is that you need to help one another in order to be successful.  Aside from calling out screens and players cutting through the key, your players should be collapsing in the driving lanes to create a mini trap for any player trying to drive the ball to the hoop.

Here are a few of the responsibilities of each player:

-“ The 1 and 2 man need to protect the perimeter.  They are the first line of defense in this zone, and once they are beaten it leave the triangle of remaining players one their own.  Tough, aggressive defense up top is crucial.
-“ The 3 and 4 man have to be ready to crash the boards hard.  There are going to be a lot of medium to long-range shots resulting from this defense and the rebounds will be plenty.
-“ The 5 man needs to make sure nothing goes through the middle without being checked.  If something gets by them, then it is usually an easy two points.  This player needs to have his or her head on a swivel to keep on top of the action.
Here’s how this defense works:

-“ The 1 man pressures the ball carrier and follows them anywhere around the perimeter (on their half of the court).  Once the ball has been passed they follow the pass until it goes down to the lower perimeter area.  After that, the 1 man either retreats back close to the foul line, or waits to intercept a pass back around the perimeter.
-“ The 2 man covers the pass back to the top of the court, but then they follow the first pass, shadowing the one man.  Once it goes down to the low perimeter, they drop back to the middle of the circle at the foul line.
-“ The 3 man (in this set up) simply protects the backside of the defense.  They need to be very aware of cross-court passes that can leave the defense vulnerable. 
-“ The 4 man meets the“  1 man halfway up the key, but not too far to leave a low post person wide open underneath the hoop, or on the perimeter alone.  They then shift down to the baseline to cover the shot or the drive, with help from the 5 man.
-“ The 5 man, as I mentioned earlier, looks like they float around in a circle.  They will follow the ball and be the back up man should anyone try to cut across the middle.  The need to be ready to pounce on rebounds and make outlet passes for the fast break.

The final thing this defense needs to be careful of is the cross-court pass.  If a team goes from one side of the baseline to another, your defense could be stretched.  Unless they can recover quickly, it could pose a problem.