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How would you practice basketball zone defence with less than 10 people available? I understand that you can put 5 on defence and the rest available in offence but it simply would not produce as much movement in the offence to really practice good one movement.

What is a good technique to simulating/compensating for missing offence players? (E.g. is it possible to get 3 offence players to make offence plays on one side of the court first then switch to the other side?)

Reference to some professional materials (books etc.) would be much appreciated.

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Yes!

When my team (of 12 players) plays basketball, we have 1 person on offense dribbling the ball around, forcing all players to move around based on where the ball is. This is great practice if you go by these guidelines:

  • Do not go for steals, or you will not be able to see movements.
  • You must move with the ball, or the drill is pointless.
  • Every once in a while, you will have to practice 5-on-5.

Hope this helps!

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    With 12 people, I'm guessing you split them into two groups of 6, each with 1 O and 5 D? – corsiKa Feb 12 '12 at 5:56
  • @corsiKa: Exactly. – Dynamic Feb 12 '12 at 14:17
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    This works on one level: overall movement. However, it doesn't work when you are trying to improve people's "prioritisation" (i.e. decision-making) between "player next to me" and "overall play" which is what breaks the zone from the inside often. Meaning: players who are learning zone often pay too much attention/stay to close to the opponent next to them/in their zone instead of shifting. Yes the drill with a dribbler will help them start moving but when you put an opponent in front of them they will start "stretching" the zone again. At least that's my expectation.. – Dmitry Selitskiy Feb 12 '12 at 21:51
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    @DmitrySelitskiy: Well it worked for us, and we had a 10-6 season. If you have intelligent players, this will work. – Dynamic Feb 12 '12 at 21:57
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To effectively practice any sport, it is not necessary to perfectly simulate an in-game experience. Most forms of practice, after all, are not scrimmages, but drills that improve one or a few skills that may prove useful during a game. Zone defense requires a number of generic defensive skills such as proper footwork, tenacity, one-on-one spacing and, of course, conditioning. Any drill that improves these skills will be helpful in improving a player or team's zone defense.

That being said, a team will have to get 5 players on defense at once to really learn how to play zone. And they will have have to face a real 5-person offense to see how a ball and players move and to learn how to react according to the principles of whatever zone defense is installed. Therefore, game-like (5-on-5) simulation is necessary to install an effective zone, and scrimmaging is the reason teams keep more than 10 players on a team at any given time.

Of course, there's always the video room (and now, the Internet). You don't need a full squad to learn about John Beilein's famous 1-3-1 (video).

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