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Basketball Screens

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Basketball Screens

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.

The Screener

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, otherwise, this is a foul.

Set The Screen

A screener should follow these steps to perform a screen:

  1. If it is not a set play the screener should signal or communicate to the dribbler.
  2. Get into position by planting your feet shoulder-width apart.
  3. Remain stationary so that you don't get called for a personal foul.

The Dribbler

If you are the dribbler, follow these steps on the screen:

  1. Be aware of teammates, especially if they communicate with you to set up a screen
  2. Dribble into position as the screener sets the screen.
  3. Run around the screener into the opening on the floor.

If the screen is successful, as the dribbler you should have the open court to pass, shoot, or drive towards the basket.

Basketball Screen Types

There are lots of screen types in basketball. Here is a list of the basic types of screens players should know:

Back Screen

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.

Down Screen

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 making 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.

Double Screen

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.

Flare Screen

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.

On Ball Screen (Pick And Rolls)

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 Personal Fouls

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.


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