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Basketball Strategies: Coaching A Stingy 2-1-2 Defense
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One of the big decisions for any basketball coach is what defense to play. Some coaches believe strongly in the man-to-man defense for its ability to cover all the players and to be an attacking defense in going for steals and interceptions. Some coaches favor a zone defense which takes away shots in certain areas of the court. Other coaches like to mix defenses, including pressing defenses, to keep the opponent's offense guessing and dealing with unpredictability. This article advocates for the 2-1-2 zone defense as one that is very teachable and learnable and effective.  

The 2-1-2 relies on proper positioning to prevent the ball from getting into the "paint" area, from the free throw line to the basket. Thus it is designed to minimize shots near the basket. It is a defense in which all 5 of your players must rotate toward the ball whenever the ball is moved by the opponent. The idea is to maintain the 2-1-2 formation wherever the ball is. It is a helping defense in which teammates are quickly closing the open spaces in the zone and in which the players in the back of the zone quickly back up the players in the front of the zone. The defensive center is a key player in that he/she is expected to be a "tall wall" toward any opponent attempting to dribble into the paint or receive a pass near the paint.

One of the soundest basketball strategies is to select a defense which lessens or minimizes the opponent's makeable shot attempts. The 2-1-2 zone defense can accomplish this by taking away shots near the basket and allowing for good position for defensive rebounds. All 5 of your players can be in or near the paint area when the opponent takes shots. By being determined to hold the opponent to one shot from a passing sequence, it lessens the amount of time your team is on defense.

The one vulnerable area of the 2-1-2 zone defense is the foul line extended. Thus the 2-1-2 is more effective against a below-average outside shooting team. However, I have found that when the defensive guards are quick and hard-working in rotating to the ball, then outside shots can be contested. When the opponent's offense can be disrupted in its rhythm, many of those shots can be missed.

As one of the best basketball strategies on defense, the 2-1-2 ranks highly for its prevention of shots near the basket, its good rebounding position, and its ability to be learned quickly by players. This allows players to focus on being "stingy" on defense in being determined as a unit to keep the opponent to a low score. By taking pride in being great defenders, your players move toward being winning players.


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