What we are trying to do: With the half court press
we try to give an unusual defensive look to the other team and to extend the
defensive perimeter far enough to frustrate the normal passing lanes used by the
other teams guards. It is common to play teams that have not played
against this press, so they may spend the better part of a half figuring out
how to get through the defense.
Advantages: The advantages are that it provides opportunities to
steal the passes near mid court, which make for easy lay-ups. It also is
for preventing teams from running their rehearsed half court offense.
The press easily collapses into a 3:2 zone, which may be extended at the
Things to remember about
the Half Court Trap Defense
Half court traps are very effective against inexperienced/young teams.
You can also use them in leagues that prohibit full court presses. Some
coaches may say you should stick to man to man all the time, but you will run into
a half court trap eventually so its good to understand how it works.
To teach it, the key is to keep it simple. Don't present all the
contingencies at once. Break it down into simple objectives. That way the
kids can grow as they learn it. Once the offense breaks the press to a
certain point, fall back into your zone or pick up m2m matching up to the
Objective 1: Divert the ball to one half of the court. To do this,
position a player at mid court, just shy of the half court line. If you have
a bigger, quicker, scary looking player, this is a good position. You want
the ball handler to dribble left or right. To this player's left and right
are trappers. They stay further from the half court line, maybe 8-10 feet.
They invite the ball handler in. The scary defender in the middle forces a
choice. Once the ball handler picks a side, allow the ball to cross and then
spring the trap. Only two people trap, the scary guy and the side trapper,
everyone else intercepts passes.
Objective 2: Teach the kids how to set a trap. The key is to show
an easy route for dribbling that is really an illusion. If the trap is
obvious, the ball handler will avoid it. Once the dribbler commits, jump
into position. Stand wide and strong, hands high. The dribbler MUST be
stopped. If the trap fails, the press is over. Don't reach in to tie up the
ball. Place your trappers so the half court line, sideline and the trappers
are like four walls. If the trap is a ways from these lines, place the
trappers front and back so the ball handler turns from one into the other.
The ball handler has only 5 seconds to get rid of the ball.
Objective 3: Educate your three interceptors about passing lanes.
The ball handler will choose the easiest escape. If he/she drove right and
was trapped, the most likely pass is down court on the right. One of your
back defenders must be devoted to that pass. The second most likely pass is
back to where the ball handler came from. The unused trapper from the left
side is now an interceptor and should come to the middle of the court (or
more) to cut off the pass back to the top. The next likely pass will be to
the center of the half court. Your remaining interceptor should roam this
area looking for passes to steal. To teach this, start action with the ball
already in a trap. An effective trap should create a weak escape pass that's
easy to anticipate and steal. Above all, don't foul the trapped ball
A key element for interceptors is to again provide
the illusion of safety. They can hide behind the receiver, for instance, and
come from behind as the pass is released.
Objective 4: Practice for contingencies, what do we do if ... ?
The one pass you can allow is the long pass to the opposite corner. The pass
is long enough that everyone can retreat to the key while the ball is in the air.
What if the ball is successfully reversed to the top? You can decide to
continue the press on the other side or retreat. What if the ball gets to
the center of the half court? One of your big interceptors will probably
covering the ball, so you other big girl (who is likely on the strong side
corner) better get back to the basket!
Objective 5: Teach your kids how to beat this press. The more
predictable the opponent the easier they are to beat, so your players must
know what the opponent should be trying to do.
How to beat this press:
- Avoid the traps. Approach but pass quickly before the trap springs. Be
careful as there isn't much room to operate.
- If the back coverage is weak or slow, pass over the traps to the
corner. If you have two girls deep, one on each side, you can pass to one
corner then to the girl coming to the basket from the other corner.
- Bring one of your big girls from down low to just above the key. If
you can hit her directly, you have gotten the ball past the big scary girl
and the side trappers in one pass. Chances are your other big person down
low is now open.
- The most dangerous moment is when the ball handler crosses half court
and the trap is still forming. A quick change of direction or a quick pass
to a cutting player will get the ball past your defenses. Your players
must be very aware of this.
- If the trappers aren't aggressive enough, you may try to drive
through, but this is the highest risk alternative. If ball handlers are
driving around or through the traps, its time to call of the press.