SCREENING – The act of doing for others

18 Mar

SCREENING – The act of doing for others

Written by Kevin Sutton

Assistant Coach at GWU


Screening is an oxymoron.   It is an unselfish selfish play. Screening is an unselfish act because you are trying to get your teammate open. Screening is a selfish act because when you set a good screen the screener  is often open. Blake Griffin,  DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gasol, and Dwight Howard are all examples of good screeners/scorers.


Proper screening allows for the offense to run smoothly and effectively. The quality of the shots, the shooting percentages and the assists all improve because of good screening.


Good screeners play at two speeds. They are either slow to set a screen and then fast with their cut. Or they are fast to set a screen and slow with their cut.   By playing at different speeds it puts the defense at a disadvantage in their ball screen coverage.


Screening puts a lot  of pressure on the defense.  When a solid screen is set the  defense is forced to:

1.  react to the cutter

2. react to the dribbler if the screen is a ball screen

3. react to the screener

4. rebound out of their coverage area

5. scramble to defend  the action


In the game today  there are so many types of screens that the defense must defend:

1.  Pin down (narrow & wide)

2. Back screen

3. Fade/Flair

4. Cross(Big on  Big), (Little on Big), (Little on Little)

5. Diagonal up

6. Staggered Double

7. Wall

8. Elevator


Ball screens are their own separate category of screens.  Ball screens are very popular in the  game right now.  Here are some of the different types of ball screens and actions:’

1. Flat – when the screener sets the screen directly behind the defense.

2. Wing – when the screener sets the screen on the wing

3. Sprint – when the screener runs out to set the screen

4.Step off the block wing screen – The post player steps off the block to set ball screen on the wing.

5. Wall Double – Two players stand side by side to set a screen

6. Horns  – Two players line up at the elbows

7. Staggered double ball screen – two players set individual staggered screens

8. Drag in transition – Trailing post player sets a ball screen

9.  Double Drag in transition –  The two trailing post players set ball screens

10. Screen/Re-screen  – The screener set a screen and turns to re-screen


The actions that are being employed by the screeners are very creative and interesting.  The actions are:

1. Slip and Slam:  The first screener automatically slips the screen and the second screener slams the defender. Xavier does a tremendous job of running this type of action.

2.Roll  and Replace: The screener rolls after setting the screen on the ball and the opposite big replaces high to fill the vacated spot. VCU does a tremendous job of executing this action.

3.  Roll :  long to the basket and short for short jumper

4. Pick and pop  – usually run with a shooter as the screener. This action has been a staple for St. Louis.

5. Ball screen/flair screen for a jumper – You see this action from many of the International teams.

6. Ball screen/back screen for a lob. UNC has run this action out of the secondary break.


The ball screens  are coming from almost every angle imaginable and almost  every possible location on the court.  Even more intriguing is that the ball screens can be run with almost every combination of players.  With all of these factors present the defense must process a lot of information in a very short time or the ball screen actions will destroy the defense. The information that must be processed by the defense:

1. Location of the ball screen

2. Which players are involved with the ball screen and both of their skill sets

3. Angle of the ball screen

4. Time on the shot clock


Setting screens is such an important part of the game.  I think there  should be a stat called “screen assist”.  It would reward the player for setting a screen that led to his teammate getting open and making the shot.  This would  be a great incentive to screen.


Screening takes place on EVERY offensive play. The label of being a screener has now become an attractive adjective, “SCREENER  SCORER”. Screen for others and you will reap the benefits.  SET A SCREEN!


5 Responses to “SCREENING – The act of doing for others”

  1. Mat Wetton March 18, 2013 at 6:25 PM #

    As an undersized (height wise) but stocky and aggressive power forward I love to set screens for our undersized team here in the uk anyone have any advice or recommendations for offensive sets/plays to make use of both ball and off ball screening? We are small as a unit mostly playing small ball with only one true big on the floor and I am stepping up as assistant coach but need all the help I can get. Also thanks for having an amazing blog here I have found so much useful info on here its untrue keep up the good work

  2. Functional Basketball Coaching March 26, 2013 at 12:43 AM #

    Hi Coach,

    Great post; it is so hard to find a complete description of the different techniques like screening. It is really good to see these actions explained in different scenarios to help promote the difference.

    Screening is one of the techniques like cutting that is a very simple part of the game but can be highly effective if executed well. Simple teaching points like rubbing shoulders with the screener makes the defensive strategy that much harder to do.

    The emphasis in a lot of discussions is focused around on-ball screening, but the off-ball screen can be just as effective but is not emphasised as much. So athletes tend not to put as much focus onto it.


    Functional Basketball Coaching
    Twitter: @funbballcoach

    Like Us on Facebook!

  3. Justin Pintar August 3, 2013 at 2:16 PM #

    Thanks for the post Coach Sutton. I’m a big believer in using the screen to get yourself open as well. I just made a post to my blog where I referenced this article of yours. If you ever get a chance to take a look at it let me know what you think.

    Justin Pintar
    Twitter: @CoachPintar


  1. Basketball Coaching Digest March 20, 2013 | Justin T. EganJustin T. Egan - March 20, 2013

    […] SCREENING – The act of doing for others […]

  2. The Art of Screening in Basketball - August 3, 2013

    […] he featured some good information on screening in basketball.  You can find the full post on his website here but a couple things there are a few things I’d like to highlight from Coach Sutton’s […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: