(English) Team Defence Against On Ball Screens Defensive help is crucial to successfully defending screens, particularly with the advanced offensive skills that many players have.

With an on-ball screen, it is important that the two defenders directly involved in the screen are coordinated as to how they will defend the screen. It is also important to develop a “team” approach to defending the screens. For the team to effectively guard the on-ball screen, all defenders must be ready to play their role.

(English) “Help Defence” may be directed towards stopping the dribbler from penetrating into the keyway. Such help must come from “below the ball” as shown here with x2 stepping across to help.

(English) Alternatively, “help” may be directed towards guarding the screener as they roll or “dive” to the basket. This “help” enables the defender of the screener to be more aggressive against the ball handler.

Here x5 steps across to guard the screener, and x3 “helps the helper” and rotates to the split line to guard 5.


“Mid” Ball Screens

Commonly, teams will set a ball screen in the middle of the court at the point position, and the same techniques can be used to defend a screen in this position. Often the player defending the screener will stay to put pressure on the dribbler (not necessarily double team) and the screener will then “dive” towards the basket, which requires help to defend.

(English) As x5 pressures the dribbler, 5 dives to the basket.

(English) x2 rotates across to defend 5, as x3 closes to defend a pass to 3. If 1 were to reverse the direction of their dribble, x2 would close to 2 and x3 would rotate to 5.

(English) As the ball is passed to 3, x5 rotates towards the basket and can move to defend 2.

(English) Alternatively, x2 can return to guard 2 and x5 moves to defend 5. However, x2 should not leave 5 until x5 is in position.


“Go” – Activity to practice defending screens

Using “break down” drills (e.g. 2x2 or 3x3) is valuable when learning the various techniques to defend screens. However, some common difficulties are:

  1. the offensive players do not play authentically – if the “drill” is to curl cut, then they curl cut instead of “reading” and “reacting” to the defenders;
  2. the defensive players “cheat” – moving in a pre-determined fashion regardless of what the offensive players may do.

Below is a simple offensive structure, which incorporates many of the screening situations discussed above. Using this structure in scrimmages can be effective practice at guarding the various screens, particularly if the coach:

  • at various times instructs one team on how to play, without letting the other team know;
  • emphasises the importance of making good decisions, rather than just whether or not a basket was scored – give the defence (and the offence) points for good execution;
  • “coaches on the run” – don’t stop the activity continuously to correct mistakes.

(English) Start with a down screen on the weak side, 4 screening for 3. A straight cut is shown here, however, 3 should read the defence and make an appropriate cut.

(English) After the ball is “reversed” (passed across the key, 1 to 3), 5 sets an up screen for 1. At the same time, 2 cuts across the key, coming of a screen from 4 – this is an example of a “turn-out” cut.

(English) After the ball is passed to the wing (completing the ball reversal), 3 and 5 set a staggered double for 1.

(English) The action concludes with a ball screen on the wing.

Within the framework of this structure, there are many screening actions and options.