Diamond Press Basketball


A diamond press is probably one of the most common and also most successful full court presses in the game of basketball. It’s something that my college ran for 4 years in almost every game. 

In this article we are going to cover how to run a 1-2-1-1 press (diamond press), why a lot of teams run it, and how the offense can beat it. 

How To Run A 1-2-1-1 Diamond Press

The shape of the diamond press usually has the first “1” near the free throw line in the offensive team’s backcourt (where they inbound the ball). This person varies depending on the aggressiveness of the defense. Sometimes this person might be responsible for trying to steal the inbound pass. 

Whether or not this person is aggressive on the inbounds, once the ball is in play they will stand near the free throw line to make the ball handler have to throw over them in order to pass it. 

The “2” will be playing at the same depth as one another. If it’s a team that´s aggressive they will be around halfway between the 3pt line and half court. If the team isn’t aggressive they will have these two players standing at half court. 

The next “1” will be playing in the center of the court playing like a safety in football.They could be playing at half court if the team is aggressive or a little further back if they are less aggressive. This player is moving as the ball moves. Trying to intercept passes whenever the opportunity arises. 

The last “1” is the rim protector. This will always be the best shot blocker on the floor and typically your tallest defender. This person will stand as far back as needed in order to make sure no long passes get behind them, and it is their job to contest every layup attempt if the press is broken. 

This offense usually only works if you have a good rim protector. This way if the offense does break the press, they won’t score on every possession. 

The most important trapping areas

The goal for the other 4 defenders is to trap the basketball and make passes difficult so that the other 2 guys not in the trap can get steals. 

The best areas to trap are in the 4 corners of the backcourt, and the two corners in the front court near half court. 

Teams that are aggressive can be aggressive with all 3 of their front players, trying to intercept the inbounds pass and trap whenever the ball gets in. Teams that are less aggressive will typical only try to trap near half court. 

Why Do A Lot Of Teams Run a 1-2-1-1 Diamond Press in Basketball?

The answer to that is pretty simple.

It works and it’s easy. The rotations are not that difficult, you want to always be able to trap in a corner and one player gets the closest player to their left and the other player gets the closest to the right, and the 5th player just always protects the rim. 

A 1-2-1-1 Diamond Press allows really aggressive teams to stay aggressive in the full court to try and get steals and easy points and it allows methodical teams to try and slow the game down. It’s hard to break a press faster than the other team’s point guard just dribbling it up with no defense.

This type of press can slow down an offense and make them start their players 4,5,6 seconds later than they normally would. 

If you have the personnel for it, it’s a good press to use. It can create turnovers and it can slow down teams and give the more methodical team a better chance of winning. 

How Can The Offense Beat It?

It’s easier said than done, but it’s quite easy to beat if you have smart basketball players on your team. 

If you want to beat a press, especially this press, you need players that are going to use pass fakes and are going to move the defense with actual passes. 

When you pass the ball the defense is forced to move (duh!), when they move they will be slightly out of position. So if you pass the ball quick, they may never be able to get in the position they want to be in. 

Now you throw in pass fakes and they are trying to sprint to the next spot that’s not even the next spot because the ball never moved. 

Lastly, you need to have players that are comfortable in traps. If you have a guard or forward that is okay getting double teamed, can stay patient, pivot, and pass out you will consistently be a player 4 v 3. And I like those odds. 

But like I said, it’s easier said than done. It’s just something that you need to practice as a team and get your players used to playing under pressure. 


You should only run this press aggressively if you have a rim protector that you think can handle the pressure of having to protect the rim often. If they can make the other teams layup conversation percentage go down, than this press is something worth trying. 

The 1-2-1-1 Diamond Press is also really good for teams who are trying to slow down their opponent. Maybe their opponent tries to score a bunch of points every game and wants to shoot within the first 10 seconds of the shot clock. What this press does is slow down that offense and make less possessions during the game. 

Either way, there is a spot for this type of press in any team. You just have to find out which style of the diamond press fits your team the best.