Sometimes, throwing an unexpected wrinkle at your opponent’s offensive game plan makes all the difference on the scoreboard. While some basketball coaches call combination defenses “junk,” these strategies often help neutralize an opposing team’s top offensive threat. Basketball combo defenses provide coaches with useful changes to traditional strategies.

Many coaches believe it’s better to sport a simple offense and complex defense, rather than the other way around. How a coach crafts their team’s defensive approach often dictates the very identity of the team. Also, not all players, particularly at the youth level, will have the same natural abilities on the offensive end, but most players can be taught complex defensive schemes and excel. A good defense feeds directly into offense and it makes scoring that much easier. Basketball coaches implementing combination defenses can make things even more difficult for opponents. 

Basketball Combo Defenses: Box and 1

The Box and 1 Defense stands out as possibly the most well-known “junk” combo defenses available to basketball coaches. A Box and 1 takes your team’s best defender and task him with disrupting the playmaking opportunities of your opponent’s top perimeter scorer. At the same time, the additional four defenders will play a zone in the form of a box, hence “box and 1.”

This defense requires excellent athleticism and anticipation on the part of the single defender, while emphasizing communication and rotation for the box players. It stands built around the chaser’s ability to hound an opponent. The zone defenders cover the perimeter areas adjacent to their respective side of the floor or implement weak side defensive principles.

Basketball Combo Defenses: Triangle and 2

The Triangle and 2 defense stands as an innovative defensive strategy for implementation by basketball coaches. This basketball combo defense seeks to limit the scoring opportunities for the offensive team’s top perimeter players. A variation of the Box and 1, the Triangle and 2 defense combines zone and man-to-man concepts in an effort to neutralize the opposing team’s scoring wings.

The biggest advantage of implementing the Triangle and 2 is the disruptive nature of the defense. Offenses that rely heavily on one or two players to create scoring opportunities remain particularly susceptible to this strategy. Also, opposing teams that incorporate specific timing and flow in their offenses sets find this defense frustrating to navigate. That said, this defense can be neutralized by opposing offenses built around talented low-post scorers.

Basketball Combo Defenses: Diamond and 1

The Diamond and 1 defense stands as a variation of the classic Box and 1 defense. This defensive strategy seeks to limit the scoring opportunities of your opponent’s best player. This is accomplished by installing a combination defense that relies on both man-to-man and zone principles.

A Diamond and 1 takes your team’s best defender and tasks him with disrupting the playmaking opportunities of your opponent’s top perimeter scorer. At the same time, the additional four defenders will play a zone in the form of a diamond, hence “diamond and 1.” This formation provides better protection around the perimeter than the Box and 1 because there will be three defenders in coverage rather than two. However, it provides less help on the backline and can leave the corners susceptible to attack.

For much more on the best basketball combo defenses to implement this season, click the link below!

Learn the Combination Defense to beat the BEST team on your Schedule!

Go to now for all your coaching needs.

This innovation defensive coaching lesson includes everything a coach needs to implement these game-changing strategies.

Among the combo defenses dissected in this lesson are the Box and 1, the Triangle and 2, the Diamond and 1.


Content includes:

  • Engaging Video Lessons
  • Drills and Implementation Practices
  • Q & A
  • Bonus sections features – Offenses vs Combo Defenses, Tracking and Possession Charts

Related: 3 Great Defensive Drills to Improve Help and Rotation


The Coach Unplugged Podcast

Cover for Basketball Coach Unplugged ( A Basketball Coaching Podcast)

Ep 254: Combo Defenses

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