A disciplined, well-trained lacrosse offense is continuously in motion. This includes ball movement as well as off-ball player movement. One of the most basic and effective tactics on the attack is a screen. In this tutorial, we will review the rules governing screens and break down the mechanics of a screen.
A screen in lacrosse is an offensive pattern in which a player positions their body in the path of a defender to allow a teammate to get open for a shot or pass. The player making the screen must remain motionless and keep the stick inside his shoulders to avoid a penalty call. A screen is also called a pick. The player being screened for can make it an even more effective play by running directly off the shoulder of the teammate who is setting the screen, making it very difficult for the on-ball defender to follow them over the top of the screen.
A pick in lacrosse is an offensive tactic used to set a screen for the player with possession of the ball. To execute a pick, an off-ball teammate positions their body on one side of the defender, remaining stationary and keeping their stick close to the midline of the body. The ball carrier will run directly off the shoulder of the player setting the pick, causing the defender to be momentarily blocked. The space created allows the player with the ball to find space to pass or shoot.
Screens can also occur off-ball. In this case, rather than trying to set up a drive, the offense is hoping to create an opening for a feed and assist.
There are rules dictating how a screen must be performed. Because an offensive player is putting their body in the path of a defensive player, there is a risk of a collision or injury, especially when the on-ball defensemen cannot always see a screen or pick play developing.An attacker setting a screen must stand with their feet no wider than shoulder width apart, and they must remain stationary. The stick must remain vertical and be held in between the shoulders. It is illegal to set a screen and then move laterally when the defender tries to go over or underneath the screen. A screen cannot result in contact with the opponent while the player trying to set a screen is moving. An illegal screen foul results in a free position in women's lacrosse or a technical foul in men's lacrosse.
The key to defending screens is communication. It is up to the off-ball defenders to notice when a pick or screen play is developing and call that out to their on-ball teammate, who is focused on preventing a drive or pass by their opponent. The on-ball defender can choose to follow their opponent and cut through the space over or below the screener. Otherwise, defenders will perform a switch and swap which attacker they are marking up. A defensive switch is an effective tactic to defend against a pick and roll play. Defenders will communicate this action by verbally calling out "switch."