Friday, July 13, 2012


You don't have to be a hall of fame coach to know that a good screen is one of the most effective weapons to use for your team's offense.  Whether it is a screen on the ball or a screen to free up a teammate it is one of the best ways to get a player open.  

You can go to any basketball game, played at any level, and you will ultimately see a coach talk to a player about setting better screens.  I have witnessed coaches letting a player know their displeasure for them not setting a good screen for one of their teammates.  I've done this myself on many occasions.  "Get a wide base, chest out, knees bent, get big, and stay put" are words we've all probably said to a player as a reminder for setting a good screen.  True, those instructions are needed, but in most cases it is not the screener who needs to be talked to.  The player being screened for holds the highest amount of responsibility for the screen to be effective.

I challenge you to focus more on the player using the screen.  It IS a skill to know how to use a screen properly.  You can have the strongest player in your league get in proper position to set a screen, and if the the player using the screen doesn't do it properly the screen being set is useless - it serves no purpose.  A big portion of the responsibility for a screen to be effective falls on the player using the screen, not the screener.  Your players have to know how to read the defense in a screen situation.  For that to happen coaches must teach their players how to use the screen.

Below are some coaching points when teaching your players how to use a screen properly.
1. On a ball screen, the ball handler has to read the defense.  If the on ball defender goes under the screen the ball handler will look to pull up and shoot.  If the defender hedges, look to split it. If the on ball defender is gets caught on the screen, look to get around the edge and attack the basket.
2. On a down screen, if the defender is following the player being screened for look to make a curl cut.  If the defender tries to go underneath the screen, the cutter should look to make a fade cut.  The player being screened for must also look to come directly off the screen and make what we call a direct cut (meaning cutting directly to where the offense needs them to go).

Setting the screen is important, but using it properly is what really makes the screen effective.

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