May 22, 2024


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Box and 1 Defense – Complete Coaching Guide

Box and 1 Defense - Complete Coaching Guide

An opponent’s star player on offense can be slowed down by using the box-and-one defense (also known as the box and 1 defense). This is a combination defense that can be used by a basketball team to prevent the ball from moving to the basketball shot returner. It is based on zone defense concepts, with four players forming a box and one defensive player employing man-to-man tactics.

The zone box configuration begins at the top of the key, with a perimeter player at each elbow of the free-throw line, and continues down the court. To defend the low post, each defensive post player guards a block and will assist the on-ball defender, or chaser, on a double team, as well as laid close out on an opposing perimeter player near the three-point line. An opposing post defensive player’s major duties are to guard the baseline and deny post-up attempts while also boxing out for rebounds on missed shot attempts.

Some basketball coaches refer to a box-and-one defense as a “junk defense” by some basketball coaches. The box-and-one defense, which is analogous to a junk pitch in baseball, is an unconventional technique to outwitting or disrupting an offensive. You can do this by providing pressure defense to their greatest player or most prolific scorer. The offense is forced to rely on shooters who are less skilled because of this disruption.

How Does a Box-and-One Defence Work?

Having the top defensive player on the court devoting all of his or her efforts to guard the opposing team’s best offensive player is essential for running a successful box-and-one defense scheme. A tight defense is played against the scorer in this defensive plan, with on-ball defenders doing everything they can to stay between the offensive ball handler and the basket at all times.

The basic aim of a defender is to reduce the number of open shots that their opponent has available to them. An offensive screener sets a screen on a defensive back who is on the ball. The back should fight above the screen and remain focused on their defensive assignments. Suppose the defender cannot avoid the screen. In that case, a zone defender from the four-player box formation can assist the on-ball defender with help defense on the ball side (the side of the court where the ball is located). In contrast, a weak side defender rotates to take over the position that was just vacated by the on-ball defender.

3 Strengths of a Box-and-One Defense

Here are a few advantages of using a box and one defensive scheme in basketball:

1. Defenders will exhaust or frustrate the key offensive player

In order to be your finest defender, the on-ball defender, also known as the chaser, must have exceptional basketball hoop return essentials and a high level of cardiac endurance. Your team may boast several capable defenders. If this is the case, two defenders can work together to exhaust their defensive duties. To avoid being frustrated by the offensive player, the chaser can play aggressive defense instead of conserving his or her energy. Meanwhile, their backup chaser is sitting on the bench, waiting for the call to enter the game. Even if the primary chaser is resting and recuperating on the bench, the offensive player is still out there, irritated by another tenacious defender following him around the field.

2. The fewer shooting opportunities a scorer has, the fewer points they will score

Most top-caliber talent at the high school and collegiate levels expects never having to face a box-and-one defense. So the persistent pressure from a formidable opponent has the potential to push them out of their comfort zone. Creating shot opportunities and hitting baskets under pressure is nothing new to scorers. However, when team plays a box-and-one defense, the entire team’s defensive attention is focused on one particular player. When a scorer cannot perform at his or her usual level of performance, the persistent on-ball pressure and off-ball pass denial can have a negative impact on his or her focus and confidence.

3. Junk defense is rare and might confuse an offense

Several key Golden State Warriors players could not take part in Game 2 of the 2019 NBA Finals because of injuries sustained during Game 1. Because of this, Warriors guard Steph Curry had to shoulder the brunt of his team’s scoring responsibility. When the game entered the fourth quarter, the Toronto Raptors used the box-and-one strategy to deny Curry the ball and force the rest of Curry’s Warriors teammates to score. Four games later, the Toronto Raptors have crowned NBA Champions. Because most teams never drill for a box-and-one situation, the defense can generate significant uncertainty and miscommunication.

3 Weaknesses of a Box-and-One Defense

As a defensive system in basketball, the box-and-one defense has limited utility, and you should consider these limitations before using this strategy in a game: 

1. A box-and-one strategy is only effective against a team with a dominant point guard or wing

When used against a guard or an agile small forward, the box-and-one should halt them. If the dominant player on the offensive team is a post player, the box zone would be an irrational configuration to use. This is because the chaser would have to guard a much larger opponent. Here, the only other option would be if the offensive player was a forward-post hybrid who preferred to take shots from the perimeter or from high in the paint.

2. The box-and-one is useless against a team with over one scoring threat

A box-and-one defense would be swiftly dismantled by an offensive team with outstanding ball movement and many outside shooters. Because the box zone is compact around the interior, your rotating zone defenders will not have enough time to defend a skip pass and conduct a closeout (a tight defensive manoeuvre) on a shooter if the shooter is in the box zone. Only one scorer would be protected by the chaser. This allows the other scoring threat to operating with greater freedom than would be possible with a standard zone defense or man defense.

3. Dribble penetration into the interior will develop rotation gaps in the box zone

The interior, or key, of a box zone, is the most susceptible portion of the box zone (the free-throw line area). A point guard who can dribble into the key will not be stopped because no unique help-side defender can stop this encroachment. The guards at the elbow (the edges of the free-throw line) may drop to assist, which leaves the entire three-point line exposed. Suppose a post player comes up to assist from the block (or low post area). In that case, the baseline becomes vulnerable to backdoor cutters and an open layup opportunity for the opposing team. If no defenders assist the attacking guard, the attacking guard will have an undefended, high-percentage shot attempt at the basket.


With the box and 1 defense, you push a one-dimensional squad to win against you by using basketball training equipment to train players who rarely contribute to the scoresheet. This is accomplished by the box and 1 defense by disrupting the offense massively. You shouldn’t play this defense every game. You should only use this defense if you believe it will be successful against a certain squad. It is a good line of defense to keep in your back pocket even if you don’t use it often. You never know when you might use it!