A screen is a play in basketball used by the offense to block the movement of defensive players and create openings on the court for the dribbler to shoot, pass, and move towards the basket. It is a play that can be planned or can happen in the moment if an offensive player sees an opportunity.
A screen works by having a teammate, called the screener, legally block a defensive player giving the dribbler an opening on the floor. They can do this by standing to the defender's left or right and blocking his path. The screener cannot move his feet, even during contact, or a foul will be called.
A screener should follow these steps to perform a screen:
If you are the dribbler, follow these steps on the screen:
If the screen is successful, as the dribbler you should have the open court to pass, shoot, or drive towards the basket.
There are lots of screen types in basketball. Here is a list of the basic types of screens players should know:
On a back screen, the screener will set a screen on a defender in the paint to open a gap for a teammate on the perimeter to drive towards the basket. The dribbler should watch for the screen and then pass to the open teammate coming from the perimeter. The player should be open close to the basket for a scoring opportunity.
On a cross-screen, the screener sets the screen in the lane for the post player to post up for a layup. As the dribbler, you should be prepared to pass the ball to the post player. The post player should be able to bounce off the defender for an easy basket if executed effectively.
On a down screen, the screener sets the screen on a defender near the baseline to create a gap on the floor for the dribbler to shoot. Down screens are great for setting up the shooting guards to make three-point shots from downtown. These plays are used a lot with little time left in the game when you need to get a shot off.
On a double screen, two screeners set screens instead of one. Double screens are great for confusing the defense and creating a bigger gap for longer on the floor since defensive players have to run around the screeners.
On a flare screen, the screener sets the screen on a defender near the top of the key to create an opening on the perimeter. As the dribbler, you should be prepared to pass to an open teammate at the corners. This is another play that might be a set play used at the end of the game to try and get one shot off.
An on-ball screen, also known as a pick and roll, is a classic screen. In a pick and roll, the screener will set the screen and block the defensive player guarding the dribbler. The dribbler will then move around the screener and drive towards the basket. The screener then rolls off the defender into open space and has a shot at the hoop.
Basketball does not allow for much direct physical contact between players. Players risk getting called for personal fouls if they do not adhere to the rules of the game. A player cannot impede the movement or progress of another player. A personal foul will be called on a player who uses his/her body to push, hold, or run into another player.
Any offensive player, besides the player currently holding the ball, can set a screen. Defensive players do not set screens, and any player with the ball would not be able to set a proper screen.
A pick and roll is a type of screen that requires the player who sets the screen to "roll" off of the defender and toward the basket for a shot. Pick and roll plays are very effective in creating open shots for players!
While many people use the terms interchangeably, a screen and a pick are not actually the same thing. A pick involves an offensive player going toward the defensive player to block them from following the dribbler, while a screen involves the defensive player moving toward a stationary screen setter.