Basic Basketball Plays
The 1-4 Offense


The best basic basketball plays require relatively little adjustment to be effective against a variety of defensive setups. The 1-4 zone offense will do just that against different zone defensive sets. This page will deal with the basic setup to reflect the type of zone it is matched against, while other pages will show how the play can be run against zone defenses - check out the Basic 1-4 Offensive Movement and the 1-4 Overload Offense.

Zone defenses can present problems for any offense. Offensive plays that depend on screens and picks are less effective against well-played zone defenses than they would be against a man-to-man defense, as the zone defense is able to flow more easily since no one defender is set against any one offensive player.

To break down a zone defense and open up scoring opportunities, your offense needs to get the defense out of its pattern, and the most effective way to do this is to be constantly moving, constantly cutting through and forcing the defense to adjust.

This is something the 1-4 Offense does very well.


Basic Basketball Plays
Setting Up the 1-4 Offense

The basic setup of the 1-4 offense is simple - a one guard front, with the remaining players spread across the floor so that they fill in the holes made by the defensive zone.

Adjust your setup according to the zone you are playing against.


VS 2 - 3 Zone

  • Pull the forwards (#4 and #5) down and bring the wings (#2 and #3) out.
  • The three defensive men down low will have difficulty picking up your two forwards, while at least one of the wings will likely find himself unguarded.
Basic Basketball Plays vs 2-3 zoneSetup vs 2-3 Zone

VS 2 - 1 - 2 Zone

  • Pull the forwards (#4 and #5) up to the high post, which will give you four players lined up almost straight across the court, with the point guard alone at the top.
  • The center defensive man will be split between the two big men at the high posts
  • The two defensive guards at the top can be split by the point guard, or will need to converge on him and leave the wings open.
Basic Basketball Plays vs 2-1-2Setup vs 2-1-2 Zone

VS 1 - 2 - 2 Zone

  • Pull the forwards (#4 and #5) up to the high post.
  • The defensive man at the top will pick up the point guard, and the two defensive men at the high post area will have to pick up the two forwards (likely creating a mismatch).
  • This should leave the two wing men unguarded, as the two remaining defensive men will be in position at the low post.
Basic Basketball Plays vs 1-2-2Setup vs 1-2-2 Zone

VS 1 - 3 - 1 Zone

  • Drop the forwards (#4 and #5) down to the low post.
  • The defensive man at the top will pick up the point guard.
  • The three defensive men extended out across the foul line will spread to get the wings
  • The single low post defender will be split against the two low post forwards, thus leaving one open



Basic Basketball Plays vs 1-3-1 ZoneSetup vs 1-3-1 Zone

You need to put in place basic basketball plays that will work against a variety of zones, with very minor adjustments to the setup. Having to shift from one play to another, constantly adjusting to the defensive setup, will get confusing quickly. One play that can be set up and run against a multitude of zone defenses will be a definite asset, and that is what the 1-4 Offense gives you.

The one thing you will need to do with your players in this offense is instill in them the need to read the defense and set up accordingly, something your players should be learning anyway, as the ability to read and react to defensive change is an important basketball skill.

So that's the set up for the 1-4 Offense, what I would consider to be one of the most versatile basic basketball plays I have used so far. From here, we'll look at a couple of offensive plays to run off these setups - the Basic 1-4 Offensive Movement and the 1-4 Overload Offense.




"Talent wins games, but team work and intelligence wins championships."

- Michael Jordan






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