2-3 Zone Defense With Corner & Wing Trap Rules

The 2-3 Zone Defense has existed since the game’s origins. Zone defenses assign each player defensive responsibility for a certain area or zone, rather than an individual offensive player.

The most commonly used zone defense is the 2-3 zone. In this defense, two defenders guard the top areas of key and three-point area, while three defenders cover the paint and two baseline-to-wing areas.

This defense protects the interior versus strong post players, ensures good corner coverage, and often results in excellent rebounding position.

Intelligent offenses will exploit the defense’s weaknesses: a) the wing areas,  b) the high post between the two layers of defense, and c) the short-corners behind the last layer of defense and the baseline.

Basic Movement

Clip from Jim Boeheim’s Complete Guide to the 2-3 Match-up Zone Defense

2-3 Zone Defense Rules
  • The 2-3 zone has five primary areas of coverage:
    • The two guards typically cover the two high zones.
    • The center covers the middle zone in the paint.
    • The forwards cover each baseline-to-wing zone.
  1. Key vulnerabilities:
    1. Wing areas.
    2. High post.
    3. Short-corners behind defense.
  • X1 and X2 setup just above the elbows. Coach must decide at what point they will pick up the ball-handlers: they can pick up all the way at half-court if more pressures is desired.
  • Wing Coverage:
    • Ball passed to 2 on the wing.
    • x3 must initially pick up the wing, then retreat to lower position once x1 recovers to cover 2 on the wing.
    • X2 jumps to strong side to cover high-post area.
    • X5 covers strong-side low post.
    • X4 covers middle.
  • Optional Wing Trap:
    • When ball goes to 2, x3 and x1 will immediately trap the ball-handler.
    • x5 will rotate over to deny entry pass to low post.
    • x2 rotates to cover high-post and top of key.
  • Corner Coverage:
    • 2 passes to 5 in corner.
    • x3 pops out to cover corner.
    • x1 can play gap between 5 & 2 ready to help, or fully deny the reversal pass from 5 out of the corner.
    • x5 full fronts the low-post.
    • X2 plays at the high post ready to intercept any skip passes.
  • Optional Corner Trap:
    • When ball goes to 5 in corner, x3 and x1 will immediate trap ball-handler.
    • x3 must not allow the ball-handler to escape with a baseline drive.
    • x2 rotates to deny the reversal pass to 2 out of the corner.
  • Optional Wing Denial from Corner:
    • If ball is in corner, x1 can full deny the reversal pass back out to 2 at the wing.
  • Skip Pass:
    • This defense is extremely vulnerable to skip passes across the court.
    • 5 passes across the court to 3.
    • x4 must close out on 3, then recover once x2 covers the ball-handler.
  • Optional Short Corner Trap:
    • Intelligent teams will often sneak an offensive player behind the defense into the short corner.
    • Ball gets fed into 5 in short corner, x4 and x5 immediately trap.
    • x2 denies reversal pass.
    • x3 rotates to middle of key.
    • This trap can also be set if player dribbles into the short corner.
Other Helpful Videos

Clip from Jim Boeheim’s Complete Guide to Zone Offense

Clip from 2-3 Match-Up Zone Defense by Bill Fennelly, Iowa State women’s coach.


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