Basketball Fundamentals: Using a Ball Screen

If you are a point guard, be an offensive star by reading the defense and using all the tricks of a ball screen to get open shots.

Ball Screen

Used the right way, a ball screen creates a great advantage on a team's offensive drive. If a guard can successfully use a ball screen, the defense has to really be on its toes—thinking, communicating and rotating. There are many ways for a defense to guard a ball screen, so it's important for the ball handler be able to read the defense and know the basketball fundamentals of using a ball screen.

Below are five basic reads on a ball screen and how to put yourself in a scoring position in each of them. Out of a ball screen, the ball handler does not always have to look to shoot; however, in this article, I focus on how the ball handler can score using a ball screen.

Setting Up the Screen

Every time before using a ball screen, you need to set it up. You can either dribble down below the screen or catch the basketball in triple-threat position and let the screen get set. If you're dribbling into a screen, you need to make sure to get below the screen without ever turning your back to it. If you turn your back to the screen, the defense can trap you along the sideline. When using any type of screen, you need to set your man up with misdirection and slow-to-fast dribble moves. As you come off the ball screen, stay low and protect the basketball. Also, keep your eyes up and focused mainly on the paint area.

Ball Screen Turn the Corner

Drill: Ball Screen Turn the Corner

Use this move if the other team's big man is late getting out or hedging on the screen. Make sure to come off tight to the screen and be efficient with your dribbles. You can finish at the basket with different moves like a floater, layup or jump shot. Keep your eyes up and see the floor as you turn the corner, because in a game, you may have to kick the ball out to an open teammate instead of scoring.

Ball Screen Pull-Up Jump Shot

Drill: Ball Screen Pull-Up Jump Shot

Use this move if the defensive big man is sitting back in the paint or if he or she extends but then leaves before the defensive guard gets back into position. You want to plant on your inside foot and rise up quickly for a shot if you're open. The opportunity usually doesn't last long. If your defender is recovering quickly on you, another good move is a freeze fake shot. The defender will fly by, leaving you wide open for the shot.

Ball Screen Refusal

DrillBall Screen Refusal

A lot of times, a defender will try and jump to the ball screen to keep you from using it. This is the perfect time to refuse the screen and take a pull-up jump shot or finish at the basket. The key to this is really selling that you are going to use the screen, then sharply changing direction to refuse it.

Ball Defender Goes Under Shot

Drill: Ball Screen Defender Goes Under Shot

Sometimes you will get a lazy defender who chooses to go under the ball screen; but usually if the defender goes under, it's because the screen caught him. This is when you shoot the basketball from behind the screen. It's a difficult shot, but very effective when used the right way.

Ball Screen Split

Drill: Ball Screen Split

When the other team's big man is too aggressive on the ball screen, it allows you to quickly move between the two defenders. There are several moves you can use to split the defense. This drill shows them to you. It's up to you to use the right move in each circumstance.


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