Attacking Zone Defenses With The Short Corner

A zone basketball defense can be attacked in many ways.  You can try to stretch the defense out which will open up passing and dribbling lanes.  You can make skip or cross court passes which will make the defense rotate quickly.  You can also attack the middle of most zones with a high post entry pass.  All of these are great options but in this article I want to discuss a certain area of the court you can use to attack zone defenses.  The short corner is one of the most under-used yet productive areas to attack a zone defense.

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Defining The Short Corner Area

A simple definition of the short corner would be the area outside of the lane and short of the corner.  I would say it stops about 3 feet from the three point line and starts about 2 feet from the low block.  You can refer to the diagram below for better clarification of where the short corner is located.
Why Use The Short Corner

Looking at the diagram on the left you can see that our blue 5 player is in the area known as the "short corner".  I'm going to just go over some generic situations to help you understand how using the short corner is helpful in attacking a zone defense.

The red defense is playing a 2-1-2 zone defense and our 3 man has the basketball in the corner.  The defenses 3 man has come out to cover the ball in the corner.  Notice we also have our 4 man in the high post near the foul line.

With 5 working the short corner the defenses 5 man will have to either slide down to cover 5 or try to split the difference and cover both our 4 and 5 man.  If red 5 decides to deny a pass to our 5 player then red 1 would have to slide down to cover 4 which would make it difficult for him to recover if 3 passes back out to blue 1.

By simply putting a player in the short corner we've created problems for the defense.  Looking at the diagram imagine a pass from 3 to 5 in the short corner.  Once 5 has the ball then red 5 would have to move down to cover him which would leave the lane open for 4 going to the basket.

I hope the situations above weren't too confusing.  I just wanted to show you how using the short corner can create problems for a zone defense.  Realizing most basketball coaches fail to teach their defensive players how to guard the short corner it becomes an unfamiliar area for most teams to guard.  Simply having a player occupy the area forces the defense to make decisions and once the ball is passed into the short corner it can force a zone defense to collapse which will open up your perimeter game.  You can add the short corner options to your existing zone offenses by teaching your players to occasionally move into the area.  I hope this article proves helpful in your quest to attack zone defenses.

Another Aspect of Using The Short Corner
I left out an imporant point about using the short corner.  Many defensive players will try to trap the ball if it's passed to the short corner.  This is another reason using the area becomes a great option.  Once the defense moves in to trap the player in the short corner, he/she can kick the ball back out for an open shot.
In the diagram above If "blue" 3 passes to 5 and the defender (red 3) moves down to trap 5 in the short corner, 5 can kick the ball back out to 3 for an open shot.  Many young teams will go so far as to trap the short corner with a guard.  In this case (red) 1 would move down to trap 5 in the short corner.  This would leave our outside player open for a kick-out pass.
Defenses panic when the ball goes to the short corner because it's near the basket, they often react as they would to a pass into the low post area.  Test this concept in your next practice session.  Set your defense up without telling them how to defend the short corner and then make a pass to the short corner and watch how it sends them into a panic and leaves open areas for your offense. 

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