(Rental)-Encyclopedia of the 4-1 Defense


(Rental)-Encyclopedia of the 4-1 Defense



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Confound your opponents with the 4-1 defense, and hide your true tactics!

  • You can teach positioning and rotations in 4-1 defense to ensure your players don't get in the wrong place on the court
  • To put pressure on your opponent, set traps in the 4-1/defense and force turnovers
  • Different looks are allowed within the 4-1 defense.

Confound your opponents with the 4-1 defense, and hide your true tactics!

  • You can teach positioning and rotations in 4-1 defense to ensure your players don't get in the wrong place on the court
  • To put pressure on your opponent, set traps in the 4-1/defense and force turnovers
  • Different looks are allowed within the 4-1 defense.

Tyler Whitcomb
West Michigan Aviation Academy Boys Basketball Head Coach
Inventor of the Elevation Offense; ex-pro basketball GM and Scout;
More than 100 victories for high school coaches;

These players are part of the West Michigan Lakers AAU Program.

Coach Tyler Whitcomb uses his 4-1 defense to take multiple shots at opposing offenses. Whitcomb uses the 4-1 defense to create opportunities for his teams to trap the corners and trap the wings as additional looks. This demonstration will give you a full guide on how to run the 4-1 defense to confuse your opponents.


Whitcomb starts by discussing the importance of Whitcomb's defensive plan with his most important player. The defense's "middle-linebacker," or center, is responsible for communicating with the four other players about where they should position themselves when the ball moves.

The "cornerbacks" are the players closest to the wings. They are responsible for covering the corners and taking any initial passes to the wings. The remaining two players must cover the elbows of the point guard and add length to the top zone with a second defender.

The ball's position allows for lob passes, and the defense of the short corner on the ball side against an offense with a 2-1-2 line. The middle linebacker tries to steal the ball, while the opposing side cornerback robs the basket of any attempt at a lob.


The whole purpose of the 4-1 zone defense system is to encourage passes into the corner. The trap is set when the ball touches the ground. You'll then see Coach Whitcomb explain the roles of the remaining three players. The elbow defenders will be responsible for preventing any return pass from the trap or pass to the highpost. Two defenders will be assigned to the remaining cornerback. The cornerback should also be aware of any backdoors or flash cuts that may be attempted by the offense.

Whitcomb explains that the defense simulates rotations against an offense in live action. Rotations against a 3-1-3-1 formation are also shown, where communication is essential by the middle linebacker.

Multiple Looks

The 4-1 defense can cause more problems for the offense by changing the way traps are set. One example is a "Blast" call. This is where the point guard is held hostage by two middle defenders as they bring the ball to the front court. Fire is the opposite of Blast. This call allows the ball to be passed to the wing, where it will be caught on the catch.

The 4-1 defense has the advantage of being able to adjust to the offense's alignment. The defense uses color coding to create different ways it can adapt to the offense's alignment. These colors are:

  • Orange - Change the alignment to create a 2-3 zone look (like Syracuse's runs).
  • Blue - Adjust alignment to create a 1-3-1 look.
  • Green - Change the alignment to 1-2-2 zones.
  • Purple - Change the alignment to a zone of 3-2.

You can create an extra look by starting in a 4-1, then jumping into a man to-man defense. This is usually done by calling out the name and number of a player.

Your program will benefit from this comprehensive and in-depth look at the 4-1 defense. Coach Whitcomb takes the time to demonstrate a complex defense.

44 minutes. 2021.

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