How to Run and Attack the 1-3-1 Half-Court Trap

May 19, 2013 | Daniel Kobialka

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Many basketball teams find the 1-3-1 half-court trap to be an extremely effective tool for disrupting opposing offenses. When offenses get uncomfortable, they start turning the ball over and giving up easy baskets in transition. Learn how to use it on defense when you need buckets fast, or exploit it for easy points on offense when teams use it against you.

Use the 1-3-1 Half-Court Trap on Defense

The 1-3-1 half-court trap uses your entire team to put pressure on the ball. Here’s what each player needs to be doing:

  • Point Guard — Covers the ballhandler at all times and denies the pass out of the corner when the ball is below the free-throw line.
  • Wing Players — Play the cross-court pass and deny the pass to the ball-side high post.
  • Power Forward — Holds down the middle, staying above the free throw line to deny the pass to the high post.
  • Center — Plays the front of the ball-side block. When the ball is below the free throw line, the center joins the point guard to double-team the ball handler.

For the defense to work, two players need to be trapping the ball handler at all times. Players should always be moving to disrupt the offense’s rhythm and force turnovers. (Having a tough time keeping up? Check out these basketball conditioning tips.)

Beat the 1-3-1 Half-Court Trap on Offense

If an opponent starts running the 1-3-1 half-court trap, don’t get caught off guard. Beat the defense with good screens and ball movement. Score off the trap by:

  • Attacking underneath the zone from the corner
  • Screening the low defender and back-screening the middle defender
  • Penetrating the trap’s gaps with quick passes and skip passes
  • Avoid lobbing long bombs down the court (develop better team passing with these drills)

Get your players comfortable with the 1-3-1 half-court trap by running it in practice. When your team feels comfortable with it, they’ll be able to quickly transition to it when they need a few quick turnovers and avoid getting flustered when an opponent starts using it against them.

Want to learn more about the 1-3-1 half court trap? Check out the video below.

Photo: REUTERS/Bill Waugh

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