Keeper (X3) - We try to put a player that has great length and has a nose for the basketball. Often times this may be your tallest guard or a more athletic post player. The keeper's main responsibility is to make ball reversal difficult and to "keep" the ball on one side of the floor as much as possible. The keeper should also lead your team in rebounds due to the fact they have great positioning to read the flight shots from the corners and wings.
Pushers (X4 and X2) - By far the most important position in this defense due to the demands we place on them. We usually put our best rebounding guard/post on the left side of the floor (X4) due to the high volume of shots taken from right side of the floor. We want our best athlete (our Michael Jordan) to be the right side pusher (X2) in our initial set up. We like having an undersized guard on the right side so they can pressure the initial entry pass, possible trap the dribbler at half court, and steal skip passes from the left baseline corner.
Clogger (X5) - The clogger is usually your tallest post player or a physical guard if you have a small team. The clogger must do several things well to be successful. First and most important is to keep the ball off the high post. Second, they must always have high hands to aid in distorting diagonal passes to the block area. Finally, they must attack dribble penetration at 3pt line and keep ball out of the paint.
Warrior (X1) - The warrior is usually our point guard but any guard can play this position. The warrior must always be in line vertically with the basketball. They must not allow anyone to screen them or pin them in at any time. They must cover corner to corner so someone with speed, quickness and great instincts works well in this position.
Before looking at coverages and slides in the 1-3-1, we must first talk about the most important concept when playing this defense or any zone defense. Our players positioning is always in relationship to where the basketball is regardless of offensive alignment. In part 1 of our player positioning, you can see the basic slides and coverages when the offense passes guard to guard.
"3" Defense Positions
X3 = Keeper
X2 & X4 = Pushers
X5 = Clogger
X1 = Warrior
If we point the defense with our pusher (X2), then our warrior (X1) lines up with the ball and anticipates pass to the corner. Clogger (X5) 3/4 fronts the high post and stays between the ball and the basket. Keeper (X3) stunts at ball handler but stays in the passing lane facing the ball and making ball reversal difficult. The weak side pusher (X4) must sprint to low post first and then adjust to the lowest player on the weak side.
Guard to Guard Pass
Pusher (X4) sprints to passing lane 1st to take away quick pass to the corner and then adjusts to point the ball. The opposite pusher (X2) sprints to block 1st, then adjusts to the lowest player on the weak side. Clogger (X5) goes low side and keeps the ball off the high post. Warrior (X1) runs baseline and anticipates pass to the corner. Keeper (X3) stunts at ball and allows strong side pusher point the ball.
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