212 Pressure

Updated: May 25

In this post, we'll take a look at how a 212 Press can be used to provide 3/4 pressure on your opponent and allow you to flow into your half-court defense.


We've been using 212 Pressure as our preferred press for the past three years. It was something I really grew to like as I studied the film of one of our opponents. We have generally used it with the intention of putting pressure on the basketball and perhaps stealing a few extra possessions over the course of the game. What I like about it the most is that we have been able to apply pressure while preventing the easy layups that accompany more aggressive full-court presses. In most cases, we are dropping back into a 23 zone out of this pressure but it is certainly possible to fall back into man-to-man as well.


Let's start by getting into the basic alignment of the defense and the logic behind the personnel.


Alignment -

The alignment is pretty straightforward; we are going to ask our guards to pick up at the 3/4 court mark. We are going to put another athletic player around midcourt and then our two forwards to retreat to the opposite three-point line.


Personnel -

  • Guards Up Front

  • Athlete in the Middle

  • Forwards in the Back

In my opinion, the middle man is what makes the press successful - so you need a smart athletic guy in this spot for trapping purposes.


Check out our Series on 23 Zone Steals:



Ball Pressure -

Arguably the most important part of this press is making sure that basketball is being pressured. The more that the basketball is being pressured the more likely the ball handler is going to make a mistake that we can capitalize on. The majority of this ball pressure will fall on your two guards at the front of the press. These two guards must alternate between placing pressure on the basketball and positioning themselves to prevent a middle drive. There should never be a moment where one guard is asked to cover the basketball on consecutive passes.


Our Ball Pressure Goals:

  • Force the Dribble to the Sideline

  • Force the Check Down Pass

When the basketball is on the "Outer Third" of the court we are forcing the basketball to be dribbled up the sideline. We should be within arm's reach of the basketball making sure the ball handler can not see the floor cleanly. If the ball is in the "Middle Third" of the court we want our two guards to stunt at the basketball forcing the pass back to the "Outer Third" where we can ramp the pressure back up.

  • Ball is in Outer Third = Pressure, Force Up Sideline

  • Ball is in Middle Third = Stunt, Force Pass


Pressuring the Basketball -

Diagram #1:

In the first diagram, we are looking at the positioning when the ball is first entered.

  • X1 Guards the Ball

  • X2 Loads Behind Him


Teaching Points:

  • Arm's Length on the Ball

  • Force to the Sideline

  • Off the Ball, Get Behind the Ball & On the Midline


Diagram #2:

In the second diagram, we are looking at guard rotations when the basketball is passed.

  • X2 Guards the Ball

  • X1 Loads Behind the Ball

Teaching Points:

  • Guards are moving on Flight of the Ball

  • Force the Ball to the Sideline

  • On any Middle Drive the Off-the-Ball Guard should Attack

  • Don't Guard the Ball Twice in a Row, Stunt & Rotate