Match-Up Zone Defense
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When coaching at the youth basketball level, while a man-to-man defense is preferable, a team might want to play a zone defense if the opponent has trouble running its offense against a zone, if the team struggles to defend the opponent with man-on-man, if the team needs to control the opponent's dribble penetration, or if the team wants to put a defender in front and back of a very good post player. If you're worried about giving up open shots, you might want to play a match-up zone, which has principles of both man-on-man and zone defenses. Here are some general match-up rules that you might want to institute:
- The defense should "match-up" and take the shape of the offense's alignment.
- Everyone guard one: don't have two defensive players on the same offensive player.
- Constantly point to the man that you will be responsible for on the next pass and talk to your teammates.
- Keep your inside players defending on the inside and perimeter players defending on the outside.
- The post player can come out in emergencies only. For example, when the offense has five players along the perimeter or when you have to defend an excellent perimeter shooter.
- Do not deny passes out to the perimeter, but do pressure the ball.
- Stay with the dribbler and switch screens or exchanges to keep bigs in and smalls out.
- Only guard to the three-point arc in order to keep the zone "tight." This allows you to protect the lane and high post area while giving help in the post.
- Defenders opposite the side of the ball should be inside the opposite lane line.
- Guards should dig into the post to help force the ball back out onto the perimeter.
- Contest every shot without fouling.
- Block out, pursue the ball, chin the rebound.