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Learn The 6 Techniques To Defend Ball Screens

The key is to be great at just 1 or 2 of the suggested strategies but having an understanding of them all allows you to employ the best defense for your talent

The best way to approach ballscreen defense is to become strong in one or two tactics, and not trying to cram too many variations into your players’ heads.

Check out these six strategies for defending the ball screen, then determine what works best for your squad. The first two, Blitz and Hard Hedge, are diagrammed on the following pages as a place to start.

This is a double-team of the ball handler on the screen. If you like to trap in a fullor half-court setting, then this is a great option for you. The result is getting the ball out of the point guard’s hands and pressuring the ball screen, all of which disrupts the offense.

The “hard hedge” (shown on page 5) is a favorite at the NBA level. The screener’s defender aggressively slides high and forces the ball handler into retreat mode (rather than attacking) coming off the screen. The screened player recovers to the ball, then the screener’s defender recovers with high hands. Michigan State’s Tom Izzo uses a “feather” or “soft” lateral hedge, meaning the screener’s defender uses a lateral step to flatten the ball handler and prevents a big man from getting caught in the long recovery of a hard hedge.

Is your team all the same height and possessing the same athleticism? If so, switch the ball screen because being similar means no mismatches when changing defenders.

When going against a great athlete who isn’t a great shooter, jam up against the screener (straddle the outside leg) and not allow the roll, then the ball defender goes under and meets on the other side.

Step Back
The screen defender gives room for the ball defender to go under. This is similar to “Jam” but the screen defender sags against a screener who isn’t a great shooter rather than jams.

Down (or Ice)
A favorite of Phil Jackson, this strategy prevents the ball handler from getting to the screen by cutting him with help from the screen defender. This works well on a side pick-and-roll and when the screener is a non-shooter.

Michael Austin

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