The Art of Screening in Basketball

The Art of Screening in Basketball

Kevin Sutton is an assistant coach with the Georgetown Hoyas.  He also happens to run his own blog, which is where 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 post on screening in basketball.

Screening in Basketball is an Oxymoron

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.

As a player screening was ingrained in me, and I always felt that setting good screens was a great way to get open.  This is something that I constantly try and stress with my players that I coach today.  Depending on the type of screen and type of player you are, screening can certainly be a way to create the scoring opportunity that you want.  If I’m a guard for example, a back screen on the wing is a great way to get yourself an open jump shot (watch Michael Jordan do it in the video below).  As a post player, a down screen can be a simple way to create a mismatch inside.  As Coach Sutton mentions in his quote, screening is therefore very unselfish and selfish at the same time.  Note: Watch the play at about the 30 second mark, great quick hitter, extremely tough to defend.

Good Screeners Know How To Change Speeds

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.

Coach Sutton brings up a very good point here, and I know as a coach myself it is something that I don’t stress enough on screens and that is screening in basketball requires changing speeds to be the most effective.  I very frequently talk with my kids about the importance and effectiveness of changing speeds with the ball, but I realize now I should be emphasizing it just as much if not more away from the ball.  This past season I had a guard who had far from elite speed and athletic ability, but the way he changed speeds with the ball in his hands made him more effective at getting open off the dribble than many other players who do not change speeds.  Baseball is the same way, where you often hear announcers talking about how good a pitcher is at changing speeds and how difficult it makes that pitcher to hit.  It only stands to reason then that this logic should be applied to setting screens.  Screening fast and then cutting slow can be effective because the fast cut on the screen makes it hard for the defender to help on the screen.  At the same time, screening slow and cutting hard off the screen gets the defender to relax and get lazy making the cut after the screen more effective.

Coach Sutton in his post on screening basketball also gets into the many different types of screens and uses for these screens.  If you’d like to read his full post just click here to read it in it’s entirety.

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