23 Zone - The Center

Updated: Jun 7

The Center is the anchor of the 23 Zone. In this post, we are going to take a look at the Responsibilities and Steal Opportunities for the Center in our 23 Zone.

The Center is the anchor of your 23 Zone defense. As they are positioned directly in front of the rim It becomes their main objective to make sure that any paint shot or drive goes through them. Putting a player with some length and shot-blocking ability in this position will maximize the defense's advantages. Having that kind of player in this position will allow your guards and wings to be even more aggressive on the perimeter. If your roster does not include a player that fits that description then getting someone willing to step in and stop the basketball, play physical defense, and rebound is the next best option.

The responsibilities of the Center are fairly simple compared to those of the other players. Each of these responsibilities centers around making sure that every drive and paint touch is guarded. Staying in the line with the basketball, contesting shots at the rim, and guarding perimeter drives are not going to create a ton of steal opportunities for the Center, but they are going to be critical in maximizing the defense's potential. Perhaps the most important thing the Center is responsible for is not a physical movement but his talking to other defenders who can't see the movement of the offense.

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Center Responsibilities -

The bulk of what the Center is responsible for is simply staying in line with the basketball and making sure that any penetration from the perimeter meets resistance at the rim. Aside from the diagrammed tasks below The Center must take on the main role of talking any cutters through the defense. As we said in the introduction, size helps but is not required to complete the tasks of this position.

Center Responsibilities -


Always keep yourself in between the Rim and the Basketball. Be constantly repositioning yourself in order to respond to any swing pass or drive from the perimeter.

Guarding the Ball:

If the ball is touched by the person in the middle of the defense it is your responsibility to guard it. You should be guarding that person unless he has the basketball - your priority to protecting the rim until he touches.

Perimeter Drives:

Any Perimeter Drives that are made need to be met by the Center. Perimeter defenders are being instructed to "peel off" the ball if they are cleanly beaten off the dribble, so it is the Center's responsibility to meet that drive and prevent the lay-up.

Deny the Post:

We do not want to allow straight line or lob entry passes into the post. The Center is 3/4 fronting the entry pass trying to make it as difficult as possible. The worst-case scenario is that we have pushed the post player off the block with a defender between him and the rim.

  • Chin on Shoulder

  • Outside Hand in Front of Post Player

  • Inside Hand on Post Player's Back

Center Steals, Entry Deflections -

As we mentioned above we do not want to allow straight line or lob entry passes into the post. For the most part, the guards take on the responsibility of taking away the middle man on offense. However, when the middle man (5) sinks lower in the paint the Center now has an opportunity to deflect or steal an entry pass. The Center would now 3/4 front the post player trying to make an entry pass as difficult as possible.

Middle Entry -

Ball is on Top:

When the ball is at the top of the key the Center is positioned directly in front of the rim. He is NOT hugging any player positioned at the free-throw line.

Guarding the Middle Man is the job of the Guards in that scenario.