How to Successfully Run a 1-3-1 Basketball Defense | STACK Coaches and Trainers

How to Successfully Run a 1-3-1 Basketball Defense

March 4, 2013 | Tim Springer

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When performed correctly, a 1-3-1-basketball defense is extremely effective against common offenses your competition will be running. It's has been the backbone of the Spartan Basketball girls' varsity team for the last four years, leading us to a Tapps Regional appearance.

Below are some pointers for running a 1-3-1 defense as well as a slideshow of the needed diagrams, drills and rotations.

Pointers to Successfully Run a 1-3-1 Defense

Know your rotations: the most critical aspect of successfully running a 1-3-1 defense is all players knowing their rotations. This allows for maximum pressure on the ball and protection of the zone's weaknesses.

Avoid Weaknesses: All zones have weaknesses, and for the 1-3-1, they begin in the corners, especially when the other team has strong corner shooters. If a team can get the ball to the corners, they will also look to feed the block and/or high post. Thus, it is imperative to cover the corners quickly, help defenders rotate over and deny entries passes to both the low and high post.

Traditionally the bottom 1-3-1 defender covers passes to the corner. But this only works if the player is quick enough. (See Improve Lateral Quickness to Play Lockdown Defense.) An adaptation we have used is to have the wings start a little lower while the point guard is bringing the ball up. They can cover the wings and corners. We did this because our bottom defender, our best shot blocker, was a bit slow. We wanted to keep her as close the basket as possible. If you go with this option, your middle defender has rotate to cover the wing when the ball is passed to the corner.

Be athletic: I like the 1-3-1 defense because it allows teams to either deny a lot of ball reversals or steal passes made in the reversal box. This really comes down to the degree of athleticism your team has. I have a lot of players who can jump into passing lanes well, and it creates fast breaks for us.

Contact Coach Tim Springer at with any questions you may have about the 1-3-1.



Tim Springer
- Tim Springer is a coach at Spartan Basketball in San Antonio. He works with international, Division I, WNBA and NBA basketball players. In 2011, he...
Tim Springer
- Tim Springer is a coach at Spartan Basketball in San Antonio. He works with international, Division I, WNBA and NBA basketball players. In 2011, he...
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