Originally Posted by Rake2204
That's interesting. It's been the complete opposite in the region I coach (western Michigan). We'll see a zone a couple times a year, but more times than not, it's a man-to-man situation. I'm actually a big disbeliever in running zones exclusively in middle school. I find my player's skill levels to be too limited (due to age as well as ability) and I see little redeeming quality in terms of developing defensive fundamentals. My "B" team coach tried utilize a 2-3 zone but his players would literally stand still like telephone poles so I stomped that out real quick, even though it was mildly effective (therein lies the issue).
Of course, skill levels change quickly and you may be discussing AAU or another sort of select league. Zones in middle school are much more common here (and much more breakable) in those leagues. But for school teams, where most squads are just looking for 5 guys who can make layups on a semi-consistent basis, it's not something we run into a lot. Though, I loved facing a packed 2-3 zone when I was coaching a 7th grade girls "B" team. Nothing like trying to beat a team from the outside with girls not strong enough to hit seven footers.
I completely agree. I really dislike the sitting in a sagging zone. It's just not helping anyone long term. But I do see a ton of it. I coach a parish middle school team. There's a ton of leagues around here, and we'll play 3-4 games a weekend by playing in a couple of leagues. But the leagues aren't strictly parish. There's a lot of travelling all star type teams who need funding that aren't related to a church. I find that a lot of the parish teams play a lot of zone, and particularly soft zones. The all star teams that are more "ahem" urban, tend to play much more aggressive, and even if it is a zone, it's a trapping zone of some kind.
I run a lot of defenses. I base out of a man to man, and teach a ton of man to man principals. Ball line mid line man technique is gone over in a shell in every practice. But I do run three variations of a 3-2, one that's somewhat soft, in that it doesn't trap, but it does rotate. I also run one that's kind of a gimmick, I call it an amoeba, but it's really a box and one where the one keeps switching. If the ball is entered into your zone, you step out and pick it up man, and the guy who had the ball falls in, and we rotate to fill in the box.
All of the defenses I run I teach as a reaction to an opponents approach. For example I run a 1-2-1-1 press that traps up front like any typical. But then we run a variation where their is no trap, and the point man dives up the gut, cutting off that weak spot in the middle, and the weak wing cuts over to the inbounder. The idea is to get the kids to recognize that there's a weak spot in our press, but we can counter that counter but recognizing it and make teams uncomfortable like they're being pressed but not actually be trapping.
I try to teach a little read and react principal offensively too. My zone offense for example is not a set in stone series of cuts and passes. But a way to set up ideas about where to attack. Then we may run forced sets out of it, but I want the kids to go through progressions from the spots they're in. One of the things I really try to teach them is to recognize who's guarding them in the zone. If it's a high defender, take him low, a low defender, take him high. It's about stretching the zones to create bigger holes. And it's not just the guy with the ball I want making those reads. The cutters too need to recognize what the ball is doing so they know where the holes are being made for them to flash too.
Watching the kids develop is incredibly rewarding. A few years ago I got a request for a college recommendation letter from a kid who I stayed pretty close with, which was just a bizarre but rewarding feeling. And a kid from my first team got drafted by the Seattle Mariners in this past MLB draft.