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In recent years, due in part to the style of play in the NBA and overseas in Europe, the pick-and-roll offense has become a popular offense in basketball.  The defense is difficult to stop because of how well the ball-handlers can play off of the ball screen.  The purpose of this article is to give coaches some ideas on how to guard ball screens and how to make adjustments based on the skills of the players receiving these on-ball screens.

Defending the Pick and Roll

In breaking down the ways that the pick-and-roll defenses are presented, we will group the defenses by the way in which the on-ball defender.  The first of these is what we call "Under" maneuvers.  Here, the on-ball defender will go under the screen because the ball-handler is either an effective driver or he is not a very good perimeter shooter.

Diagrams 1 and 2 show variations of "Under" maneuvers.  Diagram 1 shows the straight under maneuver.  Here, while the on-ball defender goes under the screen, the screener's defender bumps the screener with his chest and keeps his hands up so as to show the referees that he is not pushing with his hands.

Diagram 2 has the screener's defender show on the pick-and-roll.  This is used when the ball-handler is not a good shooter.  We have the screener's defender show three quarters of his body to for the ball up the floor and away from the basket.  Once the on-ball defender is able to match-up, the screener's defender finds the screener and gets ready to guard him. 

Diagram 1

Diagram 2

The second set of maneuvers illustrated in Diagrams 3 and 4 are called "Over" maneuvers.  Here, we are playing against someone who can shoot exceptionally well off of the ball screen and we want to take the shot away.  Again, like that of the "Under" maneuvers, we can have the screener's defender either not show (Diagram 3) or show (Diagram 4).  When the defender does not show on an "Over" maneuver, he drops into the lane.

Diagram 3

Diagram 4

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