🏀 AQTO+: Ball Screen Coverage Adjustments
Throw in some tweaks to confuse the offense
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“What is your primary ball screen coverage?” – was the question I recently asked on Twitter. Below were the responses…
I would guess most coaches have at least 2-3 coverages ready to use based on where exactly on the floor the ball screen is occurring. For example, we like to Ice high side ball screens, but then anything on the perimeter, we’ll just switch. Personnel, too, may dictate what coverage your team uses (whether that’s who’s on the floor or even which particular players are involved in the ball screen).
The point is that you have to think through all these factors when it comes to ball screen defense.
While you may play in a league where ball screens aren’t as prevalent, they still happen from time to time. And at the higher levels, teams are getting smarter at how they get to the ball screen and what they do with the other players on the floor to make the defense the pay.
So instead of the status quo (something basketball coaches are great at) – my question to you is: “Are there slight adjustments (not changes in philosophy, but slight adjustments) to give our defenses an advantage?”
With that in mind, here are two adjustments to your current ball screen coverages…
Switch and Attack
First up, for those who like the switch… Instead of just a straight switch, how about what I call a “Switch and Attack.” It’s not blitzing a ball screen because there’s no trap. Instead, the defender switching on to the ball handler attacks the ball handler’s outside hand. Sometimes you end up with a poke-away, but even if there’s no deflection, you can prevent any kind of quick scoring attempt by the ball handler.
Zion Williamson was great at this back during his time at Duke. I know none of us has a Zion on our team, but I have seen less skilled players have success with the switch and attack.
Ice and Switch
The second adjustment to our ball screen coverage is the “Ice and Switch.” Texas Tech popularized this in college game. As I mentioned earlier, a lot of teams are icing high ball screens to keep the ball on one side of the floor.
Texas Tech took things a step further. They’d begin to Ice the ballhandler, and as the ball handler dribbled down the floor, the two defenders would go ahead and switch to prevent any kind of throw back to the screener. (By the way, there’s a whole series of ball screen offense options against Ice coverage that’ll we’ll talk about sometime.)
So there you have it – two potential minor changes that could mix things up so that the offense doesn’t get comfortable.
I’d love to hear from you if you do anything unique in ball screen coverages to confuse offenses!