The 2-3 Zone is one of the most commonly used defenses in the game of basketball. Understanding its principles will help you defeat it.


There are a plethora of ways you can run the 2-3 zone, but in this video we are going to focus on the traditional 2-3 zone and the way Syracuse University men’s basketball team runs it. If you watch the video, you’ll notice that the main gaps in this defense are by the elbows and in the short corners. This is the area where you want players attacking and moving into for open shot opportunities.


A common tactic is for people to put a person on the “nail” or the middle of the free throw line. This isn’t a bad tactic, just make sure that the person you put here is comfortable with passing and scoring from this area. If not, you will be playing to the defense’s advantage. Another strength of the 2-3 zone is its interior or post defense.  Try stretching the defense out to clear out space down low to get easy baskets.



If you can beat the other team up the floor in a fast break scenario the zone will cease to exist. If this is an option for your style of play, I suggest it. Make sure that you get up a quality shot though, the last thing that you want to do I rush up the floor and miss or worse turn the ball over.


Take advantage of help the helper scenarios. Due to the defense playing in a zone, if you have to help off this leaves a huge gap in the defense.


Take advantage of the rules that athletes usually break:

1.     Everyone must have active hands and be in a stance

2.     Everyone must move on the flight of the ball

3.     Everyone must communicate


These rules are rarely followed to the T and being in a zone only allows you to exploit them further.


Want the play diagrams for the sets shown in the video? E-mail and put “2-3 Zone Principles” in the subject.