In this chapter, we describe the action of the two defenders involved in the screen and in Levels 2 and 3 we explore the team’s defensive schemes for guarding screens.

Regardless of the type of screen, communication is critical to effectively guarding it. The defender guarding the player setting the screen must:

  • Gain the attention of the team mate (who is going to be screened) – “Name”;
  • Advise that a screen is coming – “Screen”;
  • Confirm how their team mate is to guard the screen – e.g. “Through”, “Under”, “Over”

A team may have in place set rules for how a screening situation is to be guarded or it may be at the discretion of the players. In either event, it is the defender of the screener who is responsible for communicating how to guard the situation as depending upon the method used, the actions of the screener’s defender will change.

Defending Off Ball Screens

There are four primary methods for guarding off ball screens:

  • “Lock and Trail”
  • “Through”
  • “Under”
  • “Switch”

Defending Off Ball Screens - “Lock and Trail”

The defender of the cutter establishes “arm bar” contact with cutter forcing the cutter to use the screen and giving room to the defender to be beside or trail immediately behind.

As an offensive technique, players are instructed to “curl” cut if the defender “locks and trail”. Accordingly, the screener’s defender must step into the path of the cutter to force them wide (enabling the defender to recover position) and not allowing them to curl.

In order to do this, the defender on the cutter must get their hips past the screen. If they lean forward (getting the top part of their body past), they will get caught on the screen and the cutter is likely to get open.

Defend Down Screen Over
Defend Up Screens
Defend Back Screens
Defend Off Ball Screen Over