Basketball Screens - Basketball Rules and Regulations

Using Basketball Screens
Definition of a Basketball Screen
By Brad Winters

Basketball coaches and players all understand the value of a good screen for getting open and scoring easy baskets. Without the use of the basketball screen, pressure man-to-man defenses would rule the day.


John Stockton was a master at using the pick-and-roll.
NBA all-time record holder for assist (15,806) and steals.

The official basketball rules definition for a screen is any technique whereby one or more offensive players move into the path of a moving defensive player or between a defender and the player he is guarding for the mission of blocking the defensive player out of the play. To use this offensive basketball strategy effectively it is important to know the basketball referee rules for setting a screen.

[Related: Youth Basketball Playbook]

Basketball Game Rules for Setting Screens
Proper Way to Set a Basketball Screen

There are two primary basketball rules in screening. First, the player setting the screen cannot be moving when contact is made with the defender, and the screener cannot lean toward the defender or otherwise extend one or more parts of his body (i.e., extending an arm or a leg) unnaturally in attempting to impede the basketball defender's movement in covering his man. Second, when setting a blind screen (one that the basketball player being screened cannot see until he turns around), the basketball defender must be given room to turn around completely before contact occurs. Violations of these basketball rules result in personal fouls.

Basketball Rule Book for Setting and Receiving a Screen
Effectively Using Basketball Screens

In short, a player who wishes to set a basketball screen must set his screen far enough away from the defender to give him room to see the screen and avoid crashing into the screener. The basketball screener's task is merely to set the screen; it is the responsibility of the player receiving the screen to take his man into the screen by cutting or faking.

Types of Basketball Screens
Basketball Offensive Player Movements

Countless opportunities for screening arise in the course of any basketball game. Among the most popular screening variations include the pick-and-roll (screen-and-roll), pick-and-pop, cross-screens, back-screens, down-screens, flare-screens, pick-the-picker screens, dribble-handoff screens, double screens, staggered screens, and screening away from the ball.

Popular NBA Basketball Screens
Pick-and-Roll Basketball Screens

A basketball screen used widely in the NBA is the use of ball screens. In executing the screen-and-roll, the ball-handler may be either holding the ball or dribbling when a teammate moves up to set the screen on his defender; as the screen is set, the ballhandler will dribble around the screen (trying to go shoulder-to-shoulder with the picker), brushing his defender off on the screener . As the dribbler goes around the screen, the screener will pivot and roll to the basket, maintaining position on the player he screened in case the defenders switch and the screener's original defender picks up the dribbler.

Popular NCAA College Basketball Screens
Basketball Screen-Away Screens

A screen that is very popular on the NCAA women’s and men’s basketball level of play is the use of the screen-away screen. Bob Knight’s motion offense, Dean Smith’s passing game offense, and Dick Bennett’s blocker mover offense rely heavily upon basketball cuts and basketball screens away from the ball. The screen-away screens are effective because defenders guarding weak-side offensive players tend to relax on defense and loose concentration.

Popular High School Basketball Screens
Basketball Double-Screens

On the high school level, the use of double-screens is very popular. The double-screen is when two basketball offensive players set screens on a single defender. In many situations, this confuses the defenders guarding the offensive players setting the double-screen. Neither defender knows who should switch to cover the basketball player with the ball behind the screen. Many High school basketball coaches use a pattern-play offenses or basketball continuity offense to take advantage of this screening tactic.

No matter what level of basketball you coach at or play on, the use of setting screens and setting legal screens according to the basketball rule book is vital in planning your offensive basketball attack.

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