“It’s that kind of pride and joy in defense that builds a winner. It takes hard work and teamwork and everyone knows it. Champions have been willing to pay that price. And so it must continue to be true that champions at all levels will have enough players on the team that commit to defense as the vehicle they all will ride in, if they are to lead the victory parade.”

Key Takeaways:
  • When, Where, & Who to Trap
  • Rotations
    • Zone Spots & X-Out

“Put out the fire!”

Every team has a certain lexicon specific to trapping or attacking defense. Coach Del Harris referred to “The Fire Department” as their unique characterization of trapping defense. Our coach in college used anything associated with “Two Fists.” This would give us a clear instruction of the trap being called with the direction: first pass, ballscreen, isolation, or the post where the most common.

Examples of Where to Trap:
  • Low post
  • Baseline following penetration
  • Wing ballscreen situations
  • Coffin Corners

Examples of Whom to Trap:
  • Good low post scorers
  • Good 1v1 scorers
  • Pick & roll ballhandlers
  • Playmaker in good feeding position
  • Any weak ballhandler (to exploit)

“The understanding of filling the zone spots and of rotating to the weak side opposite the pass are absolutely essential to executing these traps and rotations from more than one angle.”

Rotations – Zone Spots & “X Out”

Zone spots are diagrammed in the image above by the dotted circle in the middle of the paint and free-throw line area. The two off-ball defenders are protecting the weak-side of the floor versus the 3 offensive players furthest away from the ball. The video above (Philadelphia 76ers vs Los Angeles Clippers) provides an example of where a baseline trap occurred resulting in a steal from the weak-side defenders positioned in the zone spot to lead to an easy transition basket.

An X Out rotation is the point where the defender in the trap has to scramble out after a pass is made. 

“The general rule for the man who goes to trap the low post is to go to the weak side and find an open man as quickly as possible, when the ball is pass out of the trap.”


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