Sins of the Recreational Basketball Player (3rd in a Series)
Posted by Steve Bzomowski on May 12, 2012
When playing pick-up basketball, do not play zone. It is a sin. There. You have been warned. To protect yourself and who you are as a basketball player, you must not play or agree to play zone.
Playing Zone in a Pick-up Game is a bad idea, sinfully bad, because – simply put – players do not know how to play zone, either offensively or defensively. You walk onto an outdoor court somewhere, 7 players, 8, 9 are shooting around. It is getting a little hot out, a couple of the heavier, hairier dudes take their shirts off and fling them against the fence. A guy on a bike with headphones on is pedaling by. Harry, who is friends with the bike guy, shouts once, and then a second time a little louder, and, there you have it, the guy on the bike becomes Mr. #10. You have got a game. FTs are taken, sides are made. 5 drift off together one way, 5 another way. Someone in your group says, “let’s play 2-3”. STOP! You cannot flinch. You cannot waver. You must face the devil head-on. You say, “we are not playing zone”. Shirtless says, “why not”? You know that the reason, the only reason pick-up game basketball players play zone is because they are tired or lazy or they have simply lost their way in life. You could tell the guy that he knows nothing about taking away the lane, the slides, the bumps, the communication, the pressure on the ball and fronting the post. You could tell him about keeping your hands up and staying in a stance and that playing zone is every bit as taxing as man-to-man. Rather you say, “Zone? I mean why not just go play a round of golf instead?”
When playing pick-up and zones are suggested, I’ve always been able to talk everyone out of it. But what if you couldn’t? (You may not possess my power of persuasion.) What if the other 4 wanted to play zone? Well, you could just play man-to-man yourself, chase your guy around while your teammates were zoning their little hearts away. They’d probably never even notice.
Playing zones without knowledge of how to play zones (both offensively and defensively) is like wading around in the shallow end of the pool. The real game of zones, however, is in the deep end. My suggestion: don’t get in over your head. It’s a sin to drown in your own malaise.