Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Coaches Guide to Defending vs Screen

This is the second part in a series of discussing screens. Basketball has evolved into a full-contact sport. Football is collision, Basketball is full body contact. There is rarely a possession where a player is not in contact with an opponent. This is why physical and mental training are so important. You can't fake toughness when it comes to screening; neither the offensive player or the defender. Here are 3 points that we stress when teaching defense. First let me explain that I am not promoting or suggesting malicious or dirty play. I teach players to play as hard as possible within the rules being enforced by the officials.

#1 The Screener is expecting contact, so deliver it.
Teams that use a lot of screens are using them to create an advantage for themselves by setting screens that force the defense to challenge every screen while also remaining in the correct defensive position. This requires your defender to be in constant communication with their teammates and concentrating on their assignment. Our philosophy is to bring contact. "Check their belief" in their offensive system. Again,  I'm not suggesting a malicious or cheap shot but we are going to get through the screen.We want to find out how strong each player's belief is in his team's offensive system. Is he willing to take contact every time he is suppose to set a screen?
Teach your Defender to "blow up" the screener's hip by getting low, just like driving with the basketball, and focusing on getting shoulder to hip. You may get? If the defender is constantly getting screened or wasting space to get around a screen the offense wins the advantage.
A HUGE part in defending a screen is the defender defending the screener. We want him to "stand-up" the cutter to allow his teammate to recover into position. The offense is initiating  the contact. We're just doing our part. Deliver Contact.

#2 Run Through a Shooter's Screen
When a team's best shooter is setting a screen, we are going to "run through" on his shooting side. Most shooters do not like contact. Don't believe me? Look at the number of free-throw attempts (prior to a late game fouling situation) that your best shooter is taking. Most shooters try to avoid contact. When a shooter is setting a screen, we are running full speed on his shooting side[Ex. Right-handed shooter=right shoulder]. If he is committed to screening, he will make contact with you. All we've done is align ourselves with that side of his body in an attempt to quickly get into the passing lane. If he is committed to screening, his shot will suffer. Think of it as performing 100 dumbbell front raises with a 50lb dumbbell and be expected to make shots after that. Choose How to Deliver Contact

#3 If You're going to Switch, Switch Early
Whatever your philosophy is on switching screens, there can't be any confusion in this. If you are going to switch, the switch needs to occur early; before the screen is set. Too many times a player waits to late to call the switch usually AFTER he has been screened and realizes that he can't recover. Players need to communicate that they are switching before the screen is in place. The call needs to come from the defender guarding the screener. Here's why. Most of us teach our teams that if you hear "Switch" you open back up to the pass or slip. If the offense knows that you are going to switch, they have to use an alternate plan to their normal offense. That's a benefit in itself.

That's a lot of thought given to screens. Probably more than most of you have done in a long time, if not ever. If you have an idea or want to bounce an idea around I'd be more than happy to talk about it. Email me at