In basketball, a number of zone defenses are used. There’s the match-up zone, the box-and-one, and the 1-3-1 Half Court Trap. There is also the 2-3 zone, which we will explain today. The 2-3 zone defense uses two defenders covering areas in the top of the zone, near the top of the key, with three defenders covering areas near the baseline. The diagram below can help you visualize the placement of the players. Usually guards are at the top of the zone, with forwards guarding the sides and a center guarding the lane. With this type of defense, the whole zone will shift according to where the opposing team is moving. Because of this, players in the 2-3 zone defense are often said to be “on a string” because when one player moves it is as if he is pulling a string and the others in the 2-3 zone are following. The 2-3 zone defense sees widespread use, because it works very well when used properly. It is great for forcing shots because it forces opponents further from the basket, it helps to spread out fouls among players, it slows the game, and allows for fewer offensive plays.
The history of this defense goes all the way back to 1914 when it was first used in a high school basketball game. The zone defense was important back then because the gym floor of the YMCA where the team played was made of pine and would become very slippery when the roof leaked. More recently, Syracuse University coach Jim Boeheim (who made the zone defense his trademark) led his team to an NCAA Tournament championship in 2003 playing the 2-3 zone defense.