Simple 1-3-1 Offense to Dominate a 2-3 Zone Defense


If you're coaching a youth basketball team, playing against a 2-3 zone can be incredibly difficult.

Your players will often be forced to throw up long-distance shot attempts which have very little chance of going in the hoop.

Until now...

The 'Trilogy' 1-3-1 offense will allow your team to get the basketball into the gaps of the opposition's defense to create scoring opportunities close to the hoop.

Read on to learn how it works...

'Trilogy' 1-3-1 Offense Setup:

This offense starts in a 1-3-1 setup.

As you can see on the diagram below, the middle three players aren't set up across the free-throw line extended as most 1-3-1 offenses are...

Instead, the middle three players are in a straight line half-way between the free-throw line and the low block.

"The reasons for this subtle change?"

We'll talk about that soon. But it's very important.


Player Roles and Responsibilities:

Let's take a quick overview look at what each position is required to do during this offense.


The 'point' is the player tasked with setting up the play, deciding which side of the floor to initially attack from, and helping to move the ball around the perimeter.

This player doesn't have much of an attacking responsibility in this offense as most of the action happens on the wings and inside, but they will get their opportunities.

1-3-1 Offense - Point


The 'middle' player has several responsibilities on offense and is heavily involved with scoring, passing, and reading the defense.

They will mainly patrol the high area of the key but will be asked to occasionally step out and screen for the players on the wings.



The 'wings' are in charge of getting the basketball inside and also attacking the paint with dribble penetration from the perimeter when the time is right.

The players you put at these positions have big decision making responsibilities during this 1-3-1 offense and will be asked to attack often.



The 'warrior' is required to patrol the baseline between the short corners.

Despite their limited movement, the warrior must have a high IQ as they're heavily involved in passing and the spacing of the offense.


The Goal of this 1-3-1 Offense

Before we get into exactly how to run the full offense, it's important for coaches to understand the simple advantage we're trying to achieve with this 1-3-1 offense.

And that's to create a triangle on the wing.

For this offense to work, you need to force the low defender of the zone to guard the basketball on the wing. This is the reason why the players on the wing start closer to the corner.

This will allow you to split the middle defender with your two post players which is a very advantageous position for the offensive team to be in.

Here's an diagram:


Sure, there are ways for the defense to stop this triangle...

For example, x1 can drop down to guard the wing, or x2 can guard (5) while x5 guards (4).

But the defense using these methods will open up other opportunities that the offensive team can take advantage of.

How to Run the 'Trilogy' 1-3-1 Offense:

The point (1) starts the offense by getting the basketball to either (2) or (3) on the wings.

This will require them to dribble to either side to create the angle for a pass.


Once the basketball is on the low wing, (5) steps towards the basketball into the mid-post area just outside the key and (4) moves to the short corner.

This creates the triangle options the offensive is looking to take advantage of.


The player on the wing now looks to pass the basketball to either (4) or (5).

When this happens, x5 will be forced to guard the ball which will allow the other player to dive towards the rim looking to receive the pass for a layup.


If the wing is unable to make the pass to one of the post players, they have two options:

a. Pass the basketball back out to (1) who can dribble across and reverse the ball.

b. Skip pass to (3) which will force a long closeout resulting in a driving opportunity.


If an immediate drive by (3) against the closing out defender isn't available, (4) and (5) will slide across to the opposite side of the key to create the triangle options again.

The offense continues like this, with the post players move side-to-side in the gaps of the zone defense, until an opportunity to get the ball inside and attack opens up.



The 'Trilogy' 1-3-1 offense is a basic continuity you can use against any 2-3 zone defense.

It's simple enough that it can be used by young and inexperienced teams...

But will also work for older and more experienced teams who understand and can take advantage of the spacing and angles that this 1-3-1 offense creates.

If you're looking for an offense to use against a 2-3 zone, give this one a try.



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