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Coaching Basketball’s



By John Kimble



Dedication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page   3

Acknowledgement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Page   5

Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 8

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  .Page 10

Chapter 1:  History of the Development of the “2 Press” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Page 15

Chapter 2:  Terminology, Points of Emphasis and Teaching Phrases . . . . Page 20

Chapter 3:  Placement of Personnel for the “1, 2 and 3 Presses . . . . . . . . . Page  32

Chapter 4:  Building the Foundations for the“1, 2 and 3 Presses” . . . . . . . Page  36

Chapter 5:  The “1, 2 and 3 Press” Stunts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . .  . . Page 69

Chapter 6:  Press Defensive Breakdown Drills . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Page 90

Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . .Page 107

About the Author . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Page 110


A successful defensive should have several similar traits that a successful offensive system possesses. Some of these traits can and should include that both an offensive system and a defensive system must be fundamentally sound. Another trait is that both systems will only be as strong as their weakest links. Both systems should be aggressive, but always under control. Both systems should “put players in positions where they will succeed.”  Both systems should align personnel so that all players can maximize and highlight their individual skills and talents.”

Even though the defensive side of the ball is diametrically opposite of the offensive side of the ball, a good coaching staff must counter the traditional attitude that the offensive team’s players are the “actors,” while the defensive team’s players are the “reactors.”    A defensive team can be team that attacks and force the opposition’s offensive team to react and try to counter the initial assault. This is a drastic change in attitude but one that is paramount in building a strong defensive mind-set and overall aggressive system. If a defensive minded coaching staff can teach, coach and sell the theory that this traditional attitude does not have to be utilized; his defensive team has passed the first hurdle.

Another trait that a good defensive team can take from an offensive system is that a defensive team can also be multiple in its attacks on the opposition and therefore be even more unpredictable. This makes that defensive team more difficult to prepare for and therefore more difficult to play against.

The perception to many coaches is that a team that has multiple defenses (or offenses for that matter) is subject to mental errors and confusion because of its alleged complexity is as inaccurate as the notion that an offensive team cannot execute the same basic entry/play out of different (cosmetically) offensive alignments/sets. The idea that an offensive team can execute basically the same quick-hitter play out of different sets is much more common than the same idea that a defensive team can defensively run a quick-hitter (that, defensively we will call a “stunt”) out of different (defensive) alignments/sets. If a team can do this on offense, why can it not do the same on defense?

There are many offensive systems that have been designed so that there are multiple offensive quick-hitter plays/entries that highlight or take advantage of individual offensive players’ talents and skills. Why can’t a defensive system be built in the same manner?

Many offensive plays/entries are also designed to attack generally perceived weaknesses of the individual opponents by forcing these defenders out of positions/locations that they are comfortable with and forcing them to do things they are not accustomed (or possibly coached) to do or who just don’t have the basic fundamental skills to be as successful as some of their other teammates. Why can’t a defensive system be created to attack the opposition’s offense in the same manner?

Countless offensive systems exist where the several offensive plays/entries (that do not produce points) all easily flow into the same continuity offense to perpetuate the attack on the opposition. Why can a defensive system not be able to attack in the same manner?

We believe that there is a defensive system that does exist that can accomplish all of these characteristics that many offensive systems can possess and we are ready to show it to you.

Momentum is a big part in athletics, because of the positive mind-set that can exist for the team that achieves the momentum. A question can be asked, “Which comes first, success or momentum”  It is believed that because the game is “so mental,” that once just a small amount of success takes place, momentum and self-confidence can then be created. That momentum and self-confidence can then carry over to lead that team to even more success, which can then lead to even more momentum and so on. Just a little success can be the seed that plants the momentum that then can grow into more success. An individual player or a team can have some success because of self-confidence and that little success can create more confidence; which leads to more success and the momentum builds and builds to more and more success. An offensive team can “get hot” and seemingly make every shot it takes. Why can’t a defensive team acquire the same type of momentum?  We call that defensive type of momentum a “defensive spurt.”

“Defensive spurts” are the sometimes frequent occasions when a defensive team, particularly a pressure type defensive team, has a series of defensive possessions where the defensive team “rattles” the offensive team and creates flurry of turnovers. The defensive spurt does not have to last but a couple of possessions. We stress to our pressing teams that one opponent turnover is usually followed by another. But there can definitely be more than one defensive spurt in a game. We break the entire game into ten or eleven ( three minute) “mini-games.”  If a defensive team can “win” just one or two of these mini-games via defensive spurts, and then just break even in the remaining mini-games, the game will be won by the pressing defensive team. If a defensive team can create a couple of “defensive spurts” in each game that produces even the slightest point scoring advantage and then play the rest of the game at close to a “break-even” score, that team most likely will win the ballgame.

The more often a team applies pressure defense, the better chance a team has in creating “defensive spurts.” A team can afford to apply defensive pressure more often in a game if that team very rarely or never gives up easy scores after the pressure defense fails and is defeated by the opponent’s press offense. So, a primary objective of any full court pressure defense is to never give up easy scores to the opposition. If the opposition “earns the score,” so be it; but the opponent’s press offense must be forced to make good plays if and when they score—never on the defense’s mistakes.

A defensive team that is efficient and productive in its press defensive package also possesses a mental edge that other teams will not have. Regardless of how poorly the offensive team is shooting and in its overall performance, regardless of how far behind that team may get; the team that has developed a successful full court press system will always possess the quiet inner confidence that “no matter what, we still have a chance to win.” Often, that positive attitude mind-set of the pressing team can also weigh heavily on the opposition’s offensive team as an emotional weight when they also wonder when the “roof is going to fall in on them” when and how often the defensive team’s spurts begin.

If a team is losing late in a game and time becomes a factor, that team will most likely be forced to apply full court pressure to try to erase the deficit. If that team has not used the full court press beforehand, the players on that team will instinctively know that the coaching staff does not have much confidence in the full court pressing game. If that coaching staff had confidence in that phase of their game, they would have used it earlier and more often than in just a “last ditch” effort to salvage a game. If the press has not been used beforehand, the players also will not have confidence or will not possess the experience and practice of utilizing the press. The deficit that forced the press to be used will very well likely remain and possibly will even grow.

We feel that full court zone press defenses must be a necessary ingredient to basketball teams and while they don’t necessarily have to be used all of the time; every team should have at least one zone press that can be periodically used throughout the course of a game and not just as an emergency defense to save a game.

Every basketball team has its own unique set of strengths and weaknesses. A good coaching staff must find those overall strengths and weaknesses. The weaknesses must be strengthened and minimized while the strengths must be improved as well as utilized. Some form of pressure defense must be adapted to fit the style, the needs and the strengths of a basketball team while blending in with the coaching staff’s philosophy on how the game should be played.

A full court press defense does not have to force the opposition’s offense into a turnover that then results in an immediate score for the defense every time. That is an obvious goal, but an impossible task. But there are many subtle by-products that a Full Court Press Defensive System can produce. Here are some of them:

  • Press defenses or any defense at any level (be it full court, ¾ court, half court or sagging half court) should be considered and thought of as a unique (but still a valuable form of) offense.
  • Defense is a constant where offensive shooting can be fickle. Great offensive shooting isn’t always there night after night. Your defense should never have an “off night.”
  • Fatigue, (both mental and physical) that is caused by a pressing team on its opponents can wear a team down. That fatigue can affect the opposition’s own defense as well as its offensive performance over the course of a full game.
  • Full court pressing can most definitely speed an opponent’s offense into an up-tempo speed that they are unaccustomed to and therefore might be more uncomfortable for them, resulting in turnovers and poor offensive (as well as poor defensive) play.
  • Particular defensive stunts from specific full court presses might actually be used to slow down an opponent’s that wants a faster-paced game for whatever reason. Some stunts allow the defense to control the tempo better as well as keep the opposition’s offense under more control. Therefore, press defenses can help control the tempo of a game; be it to speed up or slow down an opponent. A defensive team that can dictate tempo has a huge advantage in determining the outcome of a game.
  • Pressing defenses that create turnovers first obviously limit the opposition’s offense into a fewer number of shots, which greatly lowers the chance of the opposition from scoring as many points. The actual turnover also then provides the defensive team with not only more shot opportunities, but better shot opportunities. Shots resulting from opponent’s turnovers of from your team’s very likely will result in a larger number as well as higher percentage shots closer to the basket than your best and most precisely designed half court offenses. It will most likely attack a much more disorganized and more poorly prepared form of the opposition’s defense that is not at five players full strength or with players out of position. These shot opportunities most likely will be closer range shots with those shots being less contested. Even if the shot is missed, the likelihood of your team getting more offensive rebounds also increases because of the possible number advantage as well as the organizational advantage. Your team’s increased chances of offensive rebounds means greater chances for scoring (even if the original shot is missed after creating the turnover.)
  • Pressing defenses causes opposing coaches and team to spend valuable (limited) practice time in preparing to face the different Press alignments/sets as well as the various (quick-hitting) pressing stunts your team can execute. This preparation time then cannot be utilized on other phases of the game.
  • Pressing defenses can accentuate and highlight individual defenders’ specific skills and talents to maximize your players’ skills.
  • Conversely, pressing defenses can probe, discover and attack an opponent’s general offensive team weaknesses as well as individual offensive opponents specific individual weaknesses.  Once discovered, these team and individual weaknesses can be exploited and capitalized on.            This book is designed to help coaches find the full court press defense(s) that can fit their team’s needs as well as become integrated with the coaching staff’s beliefs. We hope that every coach can successfully make this book a valuable instrument in developing or reshaping their team’s overall defensive package and schemes.            Early in my coaching career, I became an advocate of full court zone presses for many reasons. I saw the need for a team to adapt an aggressive and pressure type of full court defense that should not only be used late in a basketball game when their team is down by several points, to control tempo of the game, and to instill an aggressive mind-set both defensively as well offensively. I wanted teams to have that aggressive and hustling mind-set that they could take charge of every game, both offensively as well as defensively. I wanted our teams to instill fear, doubt and confusion to every team that we played. I also took parts of my football coaching philosophy and experiences to help develop my basketball coaching philosophy. I learned that a defense, whether in football or basketball, did not have to be a passive and reactionary entity. From football, I tried to develop basketball teams to have an aggressive and attacking attitude with their basketball defenses. That included full court pressure at the beginning and sporadically throughout the game until the opponent’s offense scored easy baskets from our press defenses. Then, we would either make adjustments or simply call off the press for awhile, before then putting the press back on. It still amazes me how an opposing basketball offense can solve a full court press defense for awhile and then later in the same game when the press is reapplied, can then have the same offense collapse under the same press defense(s).            An aggressive and defensive-minded basketball coaching philosophy was born and has continued to be modified and hopefully improved upon ever since. Along with that mindset came the attitude and philosophy that basketball defenses (as well as offenses) could become multiple to make that team unpredictable and difficult to play against.            As a student of the basketball game, the 1-2-1-1 Full Court Zone Press (shortened to be simply called the “1 Press”) became the first and the primary press our defensive teams used. As a coach that established very early in his career a philosophy of being a multiple defensive coach, the natural progression then led to our teams also developing the 2-2-1 Full Court Zone Press (naturally called the “2 Press”) as the secondary zone press used. With the “1 Press” remaining as the primary defensive press and being used quite often, we saw the ways that many opponents attempted to attack that zone press.            Not only did we use the “1 Press” more frequently than the “2 Press” but also having to face that same zone press defense more often than the “2 Press;” we acquired more of an idea and knowledge of the “1 Press.” One of the biggest beliefs that was acquired in our experiences with full court zone presses, is that the majority of “1 Press Offenses” position their offensive players in a 2-1-2 offensive set after the ball in in-bounded. The concept and idea was then created to use the “1 Press” with a hard and aggressive trap on the ball while taking away both advancing passes down the ballside sideline and in the middle of the zone press, while being very conscious and looking for the long diagonal skip pass. This gives the opposition’s offense only the reversal pass as the most likely to be successfully completed, particularly when most press offenses ended up in a “2-1-2” offensive alignment after the ball was reversed. These particular offensive spot-up positions are not chosen by accident. The natural gaps of a generic 1-2-1-1 zone press defense are appropriately filled by the “2-1-2 offensive spots.”            We became a fan of the  ”2-2-1 Full Court Zone Press” for many reasons. One primary reason was because it was a great complement to the “1-2-1-1 Full Court Zone Press” as well as giving the defense an opportunity to be more multiple and less predictable. Another reason was that it attacked offenses in a completely different manner. Instead of trapping the initial pass (like the “1 Press” is supposed to do,) the “2-2-1 Full Court Press” allows the initial in-bounds pass and waits to attack the offense by “fanning the dribbler” down the sideline and rotating a backline defender up with the ball defender. This additional press then gave the defense another way of being the “actor” and forcing the opposition’s offense to being the “reactor.”            The second weakness and major concern was the concept that had to make one of our backline players rotate up towards the basketball and actually away from the basket they were to defend. That also concerned us a great deal in that we did not want to have a press that attacked the offense but then could possibly give up easy and quick baskets.             But after studying the “2-1-2 Full Court Zone Press;” we believed its weaknesses paled versus the weaknesses of the “2-2-1 Zone Press.” While the “2-1-2 Full Court Zone Press” not only had the same strengths and benefits of the “2-2-1 Press,” it actually had many many more strengths and had eliminated the two major weaknesses we felt the “2-2-1 Full Court Zone Press” possessed. That caused us to remove the “2-2-1 Press” from our defensive package and to also implement the “2-1-2 Full Court Zone Press” as the complement to the “1-2-1-1 Full Court Zone Press.” From there, the “3 Press” also came into play as still another way for our defense to confuse and attack the opposition’s offense.            Another strong suit of the “2 Press” package is that this defense has the strong possibility and capability of containing defensive “stunts” that can give the press different plans of attacking the opposition’s offense. This makes the “2 Press” even more aggressive, more unpredictable and more confusing for the opposition’s offense to be able to figure out and counter. The “2 Press” package could also contain as many as four different stunts, depending on the physical and mental capabilities of each year’s squad.            Therefore, the “2-1-2 Press” evolved from our analysis of the “1-2-1-1 Press” andthe “2-2-1 Press.” It developed from our interpretation of both their strengths and weaknesses as defensive coaches as well as how we viewed the presses when we faced them against our defensive opponents.            Defensively, we wanted to “take the best of both worlds” to create an aggressive press that protected the middle while still having the opportunity to sometimes trap the first pass as well as “surprise-trap” the dribbler when and where we wanted to trap him. This can be accomplished with the “2 Press.” We incorporated the “2 Press” with our overall offensive and defensive philosophies that had been developed over the years to build a multiple defensive system that was simple for our players to learn, easy to understand and to execute; but still appearing to be a complex and complicated attacking defensive system that our opponents had questions in preparing for and more difficult in trying to solve and defeat.

Using the multiple defense philosophy, the “actors-not-reactors” philosophy, the idea that the opponents’ offensive spot-ups are now actually filled by the rotating defenders, the idea that the opposition is also facing some phase of the game that is a little bit different, and the concept that this “new” somewhat new and different zone press has manipulated offensive opponents into positions that could be the most unproductive locations they could possibly be. Add to the fact that there could be different stunts (different methods of attacking the opposition’s offense) that are thrown at the offense (with the 10 second clock ticking down on the offense) are valid reasons to use the “2 Press” and its stunts as a primary full court zone defense.

  •             We believed that the common impression of most coaches is that the “1 Press” is much more aggressive, particularly by trapping the first in-bounded pass; while the “2 Press” is a passive and more cautious press that attacks sideline dribblers. We believed that the “2 Press” could be utilized by using the “1 Press” to “set up opposing zone press offenses” as well as using the “2 Press” alone (along with its various stunts.)
  •             The “2 Press” defensive stunts also have some of the same defensive concepts that the full court “Run and Jump Press” defense possesses. The “In” stunt and the “Out” stunt both have distinct characteristics that are fundamentally sound defensive techniques for either of the two press defenses. When used in the context of the “2 Press,” these defensive fundamentals and techniques can possibly have even more success than when used in the “Run and Jump” defense.
  •             Since the “1-2-1-1 Full Court Zone Press” had its name shortened (for communication purposes) to being called the “1 Press,” the “2-1-2 Full Court Zone Press” was then named the “2 Press.”
  •             A third weakness was that the original “Safety” of the “2-2-1 Zone Press” could easily be seen by the opposition’s ball-handler as he dribbled down the sideline towards his basket (and to potential pass receivers). We did not like the idea that a dribbler could see his potential trapper running at him and see the potential interceptor (to his sideline pass) rotating up and out towards the pass receiver. The “2-2-1 Zone Press” had to have a defender rotate back to protect the middle somewhat and also had a player rotate back to protect the basket.
  •             As valuable as the “2-2-1 Full Court Zone Press” could be to the overall defensive package that a defensive-minded coach could integrate, the “2-2-1 Full Court Zone Press” had some weaknesses that concerned us. One of the biggest weaknesses we felt in the “2-2-1 Full Court Zone Press” was that the middle of this press defense was somewhat vulnerable and could be attacked and if so; the offense could possibly have a numerical advantage in then attacking their offensive basket.
  •             Another philosophy that was developed over the years is the philosophy that our coaching staff would like to implement some ideas that are possibly somewhat unique and a little different so that opposing teams would have to prepare in more uncommon ways; hopefully making our team’s performance more productive and efficient. This idea consists of using a somewhat different type of a zone press defense against an opponent’s press offense that thinks the defense is a different kind of press. This not only can be confusing to the opposition, but the fact that a portion of the 10 seconds the opposition’s offense can also be a significant factor in the defense’s performance.
  •             In addition to our use of defensive full court zone pressure, our teams also faced opponents that executed both of these popular and frequently used defenses. This caused our coaching staffs to study the ways that opponents executed both of these defenses but also the press offenses that opponents used to try to attack the full court pressure.
  •             The idea of breaking down certain aspects of the overall defense (and offense) into more simplified breakdown drills that could enhance every player’s understanding as well as hone all of the necessary skills needed for overall success was “borrowed” from the football coaching mentality.
  •             The “football coach” in me persuaded the “basketball coach” in me that full court (as well as half court) basketball defenses could initiate “attacks” on the opposition’s basketball offenses just like a football defense could have defensive “stunts” that could confuse a football offense with different aggressive types of action that were disguised. Some of the defensive action would stifle the run, while other action could rush the quarterback and discourage the pass. Football taught me that certain football defenses and action could aggressively take away an opposing football team’s strength, whether it was the run or the pass, and make that team attempt to utilize their weaker part of their offensive attack. The defense could then capitalize on the weakness of that team once it was discovered and avoid the strengths of that team once they also were realized. Football helped me develop the attitude that the defense does not have to sit, wait, read and react to the opposition’s offense. With defensive overplays and aggressive schemes and several stunts that were disguised, that football defense could become the aggressor and make the football offense the team to be passive, cautious and reactionary.

















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