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

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for Our FREE Newsletter.

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

March 4, 2013 | Tim Springer

1 of 7

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...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Basketball Recruiting: It's Never Too Late

Navigating The Basketball Recruiting Path : It Is Never Too Late While it would be nice to have already signed that letter of intent or have already...

3 Offensive Line Drills That'll Help You Keep Your QB Clean

Under Armour Releases Veterans Day Kicks

WATCH: 5-Foot-2 Guard Drops 41 Points

These 3 Route-Running Drills Will Help You Get Open

Does Grunting Improve Your Sports Performance?

The Secret Weapon Powering Stephen Curry's Resurgence

3 Secrets of the NBA's Best Shooters

Matt Kemp on His Way Back to MVP Form

The 4 Fundamentals of Hitting a Baseball

Preparation Nation: DeMatha Stags

Make the Most of Your Pre-season Training

Nike Basketball Officially Unveils the Nike Kyrie 1

QB Skills and Drills: How to Master the Bubble Screen

How the San Antonio Spurs Turned a Group of Castoffs into Stars

Get Tougher With Skylar Diggins' Bodyweight Workout

Become a Better Point Guard With This Training Program

Fixing Your Basketball Shot: Corrective Drills

Under Armour Introduces the Curry One

Why Basketball Players Must Improve Their Weak Hand

How Ryan Mathews Returned to Highlight Reel Status

How to Recover After Getting Hit by a Pitch

Tony Wroten's Lethal Crossover Leaves Defender in the Dust

Basketball Dribbling Drills: Use Chaos to Develop Killer Handles

Andrew McCutchen Is Raking His Way to Consecutive MVP Honors

Baseball Catcher Technique Part 8, Youth Catcher Drills

Top 3 Hockey Training Mistakes

Catcher Technique, Part 9: What to Expect at a Baseball Showcase

How to Improve Your Basketball Quickness in 5 Minutes

Preparation Nation: Bishop Gorman Basketball

10 Essential Point Guard Drills From Skylar Diggins

How David Ortiz Maintains Peak Performance

VIDEO: Steph Curry's Absurd Long-Range Shot

Shooting Drills That Will Make You a Knock-Down Shooter

Get More Explosive With James Harden's Workout

Use These 3 Grips to Throw a Changeup They Can't Hit

The Best Basketball Sneakers of 2014

Preparation Nation: Hoover Buccaneers Basketball

Softball Pitchers: How to Play Your Best Over a Complete Season

Build a Better Layup With These Basketball Speed Drills

Greene's Lantern: Riding With 'Soul'

How Skylar Diggins Became the Future of the WNBA

Success With Health: How Trevor Bauer Increased His Velocity

America's Tallest Basketball Player Commits to UCF

4 Common Mistakes Made When Coaching Young Athletes

Basketball Recruits: What You Should Do in November

Why You Shouldn't Specialize in One Sport Too Soon

Wide Receivers: Learn to Catch Every Jump Ball, Every Time

5 Things You Can Learn From Playing Pre-Season Basketball

4 Tips to Become a Better Softball Pitcher

3 Things You Are Doing Wrong In Your Basketball Training

How QB Ryan Tannehill Beats the Blitz

Improving your Hockey Shot on the Ice

This 13-Year-Old Girl Would Strike You Out

Use These 3 Principles to Improve Your Basketball Defense


4 Drills That'll Help You Become an Elite Running Back

Develop an Unstoppable Crossover Dribble With Just 3 Drills

Basketball In-Season Battle Rope Complexes, Part 1

How to Improve Your Football Skills Mid-Season

Three Benefits of Being a Young, Multi-Sport Athlete