Diamond Press Zone Defense

Diamond Press Zone Defense
Diamond 3: Full Court

Rules for Top or Point Person – X1

  1. Number one priority – no penetration down the middle.
  2. Keep pressure on the ball at all times. (Note: Even though the pickup point of the defense might call for the Top or Point to pick up at the free throw line, the Top or Point is allowed a great deal of leeway in picking the ball up early. Remember: we want pressure on the ball even if the Point’s position has to be somewhat extended.
  3. Push the ball out of the middle.

Rules for the Wings – X2 and X

  1. Number one priority – do not get beat sideline.
  2. Imperative — to make this defense work, the weakside wing must be aggressive and move to the ball (usually middle or middle forward) taking away either (or preferably both) a pass to a trailer or a pass to the middle. In many respects, play of the weakside wing makes this defense go.
  3. Weakside wing does not move to the ball until it is out of the middle/opposite but then must move immediately.
  4. Ballside wing does not leave to trap until the Top or Point has pushed the ball out of the middle and forced the ballhandler to dribble. Then, ballside wing must move immediately.
  5. Read the passer.

Rules for the Interceptor or Middle Person – X3

  1. Take the first logical pass away – often a pass vertically downcourt from the ballhandler.
  2. In many respects, play of the Middle is similar to the Weakside Wing in reading the passer and playing the passing lanes.
  3. Talk to your teammates. You have a good view of the defense.

Rules for the Deep or Back Person – X5

  1. Number one priority – you cannot let a pass be completed behind you.
  2. Number two priority – do not play too far back. Take away at least one of the potential receivers. (Deep person must at least look as if they are covering one of the potential receivers and they do not go deep unless there is a cutter going deep behind them and Deep or Back is therefore forced deep.)
  3. Talk to your teammates. You have the best view of the press. “You cannot let a pass be completed behind you. This does not mean that you must play at the defensive basket.”
  4. The further the ball is from the basket the further you can be from the basket even if there is a person behind you.


Diamond Press Zone Defense
Diamond 2: Half Court

GENERAL – The general principle of the halfcourt diamond press is that we trap the ball at any time it is past half court and out of the ‘middle’. This should be a high energy and very aggressive defense. Many of the rules are the same.

Rules for the Top or Point – X1

  1. Same as Diamond 3 (full court) except the Top or Point picks up the ball shortly before it crosses half court making sure there is pressure on the ball as it crosses half court.

Rules for the Wings – X2 and X4

  1. Basically the same as Diamond 3 but since we are now in the halfcourt, some additional rules apply as well.
  2. Weakside Wing must be aware of players cutting behind and be in position to help the Back person on a lob to the offensive post. — As a general rule, the Weakside Wing can play more aggressive and be less worried about the cutters coming behind the defense if the ball is more than half way down the lane or if the ballhandler has a dead dribble and is in a strong trap.
  3. Very important for Weakside Wing to play aggressively in the passing lane.
  4. Blocking out by the Weakside Wing is a key to the rebounding effectiveness of the defense.
  5. Top or Point will trap everything out of the middle with the wings.
  6. Wings will trap everything out of the middle above the 3-point line extended with Top or Point and trap everything out of the middle below the 3-point line extended with the Interceptor.

Rules for Middle or Interceptor – X3

  1. Middle will trap everything below the 3-point line extended with the wing on that side.
  2. If Middle plays high enough and aggressive enough, can often take cross court passes the length of the court for easy layups.

Rules for Back or Deep Person – X5

  1. The Back or Deep always fronts the post (Note: There is a tendency to play behind the post and that can really hurt this defense because it provides an outlet against pressure.)
  2. If no post, Deep or Back still does not leave the basket area, always staying within 5 to 6 feet of the basket. If need be, she gives up the baseline jumper in order to protect the basket.


Diamond Press Zone Defense
Diamond 1: Quarter Court (Straight Diamond)

GENERAL – The principles of the Straight Diamond are very similar to Diamond 2 (half court) except that there is no trap on the ball until the ball is out of the middle and one step away from the 3-point circle. This is the most conservative of the Diamond Defenses, but it can be very effective.

  1. The traps occur between the Top and Wing whenever the ball is above the free throw line and between the Wing and Interceptor whenever the ball is below the free throw line. On each instance, the ball must be out of the middle.
  2. The Deep or Back person always fronts the post.
  3. Comments concerning the Weakside Wing in Diamond 2 apply here as well.
  4. More important than ever that players move on the flight of the ball.


Diamond Press Zone Defense
Diamond Press General Principles

  1. Be aggressive. “I would rather have an aggressive mistake than a passive no play.”
  2. “Don’t get beat the same way twice”, i.e. if you have to choose between covering the passing lane to a trailer or a middle person and the last time they passed to the trailer, take that pass away the next time down the court.
  3. “Don’t get caught in between.” Be sure that you are ready to intercept at least one of the potential passes.
  4. “Take away the easy pass first.”
  5. “It doesn’t matter how close you are to a receiver if you are behind the receiver — you might as well buy a ticket to the game because you are a spectator.” Play the passing lanes.
  6. Fake on defense. If you are responsible for two possible passes, look as if you are playing one pass but be ready for the other.
  7. “Read the Passer.”
  8. Move on the flight of the ball.
  9. 5 rebounders on defense. “Locate, rotate, gotate.”
  10. Communicate with your teammates.
  11. If the press is broken by a pass up the middle, SPRINT back and fill the foul lane. (If an extended press such as Diamond 3 is broken, we always fill the foul lane first and then come out in either Diamond 2 or Straight Diamond. In fact, when we call the defense, such as Diamond 3, it’s always “Diamond 3 into Straight Diamond” or Diamond 3 into 2.”)
  12. We will trap a second time if the pass out of the trap is going backward or a short way up the sideline but on a good strong pass to the middle, we sprint to fill the foul lane then come back out in our designated 1/2 court offense (which could be Diamond 2 or Straight Diamond).

Get More Inside:
Find more Zone Press Defenses as well as press techniques and drills at Hoops U. Insider.



  1. Nate De Groot says

    I started running this with my 8th grade team. I have one group that does it great. The guy receives the inbound and goes sideline and the trap is there. The same group on offense simply get the ball in and reverse it as everyone is moving and just rush the court. How do I defend that ball reversal?

    • Tony Alfonso says

      My initial thought is where is the reversal being made? If it’s being made to the middle so the offense can attack, X1 should drop into the middle to prevent that pass (assuming X3 is trapping or jumping a sideline pass). If X1 is trapping with X2, then X3 could stay middle. The reversal will be there, but only if they make the pass back to the point. As you know, if they can make the pass to the middle ahead of the defense, problems arise!

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