Basketball Skill Development: The Pick and Roll

STACK Expert Layton Westmoreland shows how to master the pick and roll, a critical offensive play for basketball.

Pick and Roll

Basketball skill development lets you make mistakes while you work on your craft. There's no shot clock, no coaches and no consequences for your errors—just an open gym with room for you to build and grow.

One critical skill move that you should be developing is the pick and roll. If you look at the pros, the most dominant teams execute the pick and roll efficiently and diligently, and this has trickled down to the college and high school levels.

What Is a Pick and Roll?

The pick and roll is an offensive series that involves a player setting a screen (pick) to allow the ball handler to separate from his defender. Once the pick is set and the ball handler separates, the screener dives (rolls) to the rim looking for the ball.

A successful pick and roll spreads the defense, causing defenders to make quick decisions in a hectic manner and helping the offense thrive. It's an important step in any player's basketball skill development.

When Can You Use a Pick and Roll?

  • To free the ball handler from an aggressive defender
  • To get a scorer to the middle of the floor for an easy shot
  • To attract help defenders, which will get shooters open on the perimeter
  • To get a post player out of the paint to spread the floor—which will open up scoring chances as he rolls back to the rim in an vacant lane.

You can get more in-depth with countless options and reads of the pick and roll, but here are a few simple concepts to help you better understand its use and effectiveness.

3 Keys for Ball Handlers

  • Set the defender up below the screener so you can come off the shoulder of the screener.
  • Read how the defense plays the screen. For example, if the defender trails you, keep him on your backside as you slice into the lane.
  • Read the help defense. If no help comes, drive to the rim. If the help defense commits, look for your screener going to the basket or open perimeter shooters.

3 Keys for Screeners

  • Sprint to the basket. Once the ball handler has run his defender into your pick and dribbled off the screen, both defenders (yours and his) are in scramble mode to cover the ball. When their backs are turned to cover the ball, dive to the rim, keeping eye contact with the ball handler and never turning your back on the play.
  • Show a target. When you dive to the rim, give the ball handler a target to indicate where you want the ball. Use your hand, either high or low, to let the ball handler know you are open and where to aim his pass.
  • Keep your eyes on the ball.

Practicing the Pick and Roll

You'll Need:

  • A ball
  • A teammate (a post player if you're a guard, or a guard if you're a post player)
  • A cone or folding chair to take the place of a defensive player

Check out this video from Spartan Basketball for a quick rundown of how to practice a pick and roll with a teammate.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock