ball screen development

Ball Screen Development by Cody Sarensen

Ball Screen Development by Cody Sarensen!  Check out what you need to do in spread ball screen situations.

The primary role of a coach it to teach players how to play the game. It does not matter how old, how experienced or what level a player is at, a coach’s responsibility is to teach the players how to play not what to play. This is done by the whole-part-whole method. Every time we introduce a new play or defense, we have our five players walk through the steps/alignments, then we break the game down by teaching those specific skills of ball screen development. For example, we will conduct a 5v0 “walkthrough” of our offense. After the walkthrough, we split into groups and begin working on specific skill sets of that offense such as working on 2v0, 2v2 ball screen read and react drills to 2v0, 2v2 down screen/flare screen read and react drills. After working on these skill sets, we put it back together and scrimmage 5v5. We will stop a 5v5 scrimmage to discuss any skills we still lack or haven’t mastered yet. We will review these concepts in every practice. It is important to make careful observations as a coach on what is working and what’s not working to help you, as a coach, plan for more efficient practices.

Much of today’s offense revolves around the idea of spread ball screen development. This offensive concept can be very useful, regardless of size and ability of a player. There are multiple reads players can make when setting ball screens. Ball screens help space the floor, they create difficult rotations for defenses, and they maximize the skills of all players on the floor. My personal belief is not to focus on developing the concepts of ball screens until grades 6, 7 and 8 (ages 11-14). Earlier grades and younger players need to master the skill of cutting and identifying appropriate floor spacing first. We use ball screens within our motion offense, using different alignments (3out2in or 4out1in).

Click here to download the free ball screen information!

Attached are several diagrams that illustrate the different reads and uses of a ball screen development. There are specific reads ball handlers make depending on how the screen is defended. The major concepts to understand are how to effectively set and use the screen. Paul Biancardi, former college coach and current National Director of Recruiting & player rankings for ESPN, had a line that always stuck with me when setting ball screens, “be quick to set and slow to receive.” This means the screener needs to be quick to set the screen and the one using the screen needs to be slow when receiving or coming off the screen. As aforementioned, ball screens can be a great tool to use in your offense. It’s essential that you teach players how to set and come off screens efficiently, using the part-whole-part teaching method.

There are three ways we teach our guards to use ball screens: jail, split, reject. Our screeners have three reads depending on the way the screen is defended. The screener can roll, slip, or pop. As aforementioned, our offense is based on read-react principle. We want to teach players how to play, not what to play. Start out by having your ball handlers/guards participate in the 1v0 Ball Screen Drills and then progress to the 2v0 Ball Screen Drills.
Once your players feel comfortable with these concepts, have your players practice 3v0 to 3v3. The 3v0 and 3v3 can be done with any player combo or 2 guards/ball handlers and a big.

Below is the progression chart to follow:


Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Step 4
1v0 Ball Screen Drills 2v0 Ball Screen Drills (w/ coach) 3v0 Ball Screen practice 3v3 Ball Screen practice

Cody Sarensen
Head High School Boys Basketball Coach
Springfield Catholic Central High School

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