Alright all of you old school basketball coaches: It's time to blow your doors off a bit. I was taught how to set a "proper" screen about 32 years ago at my first basketball camp. I remember it being a lot of "arms straight", "feet set", "run shoulder to shoulder", etc. I remember this because the message didn't change for the next 32 years. Everywhere I went, it was the same verbiage...same cardboard, 1-dimensional thought process on getting a man open for a shot.
From a middle school coach perspective, I can see the value in that language because it is simple, to the point and will get most 11 year olds open. However, as you move into high school and then college, coaches start teaching players where to be off the ball and how to get up the line on a screen without ever having that screen interfere with taking the pass away from the man you are guarding. So, if all we tell kids is to run off your screen shoulder to shoulder to get open, those kids will begin finding out that they NEVER get the ball and they see their defender score a lot of lay-ups going the other way.
About 10 years ago, I was so frustrated with my team's inability to get open and best utilize their screens that I sat down after the season was over and really started watching film of not only my team, but of college and NBA teams who I thought did the best job of creating space for their shooters, and inevitably, the best job of teaching players how to move without the ball.
The more I watched, the more the camera angle moved higher and higher, and I was all of a sudden watching the game like I was floating above the court. I started to see the space on the floor now from a 3-dimensional (3D) perspective. And...everything changed. I quickly realized how silly and completely archaic the lessons I learned in my youth were in regard to screening.
A lot of you coaches do a great job of teaching your kids how to play in pairs...working as a tandem to get each other open (see Golden State Warriors). The screener has to be as big of a scoring threat as the shooter or a screen becomes a one-shot or nothing offensive set. Any offensive mind-set that only plays for that one opportunity is a very illogical venture. With this said, I began teaching my players how to view that tandem scoring as a 3D opportunity. Here are the basics:
1. The screener should always be set like we were all taught, but they should have their butt pointed toward where he/she wants the shooter to catch the ball.
2. The shooter must sprint to the screener's body and grab his or her shoulders. This allows that same shoulder to shoulder principle, but I want my shooter to be pausing to read what their defender is doing: trailing, fighting through, or going underneath the screen.
3. The shooter can now manipulate that screener based on that read creating 3 options (yes 3D!) to score off that screen: curl and catch, back-cut and catch, flare and catch.
4. The screener now can be pushed, nudged, guided away by the shooter opposite of where the shooter is going to create a slip, pop or flare opportunity for the screener.
What have we created? We have now created 6 different scoring opportunities for 2 players on 1 screen. Can you show me one offensive set that you have taught in the last year that creates that many opportunities for 2 players in a 2 second span?
Now, what happens if we have that type of offensive strategy happening on both sides of the court. Well, you can put the ball in anyone's hands that has a cup of sense about them, and you are creating an assisting machine. (See Draymond Green)...and for you young bucks, just watch a bit of Boston Celtics basketball from 1960 through 1973, and you will see the same actions and opportunities. Steve Kerr, as brilliant as he is, did not invent this basketball. He just helped a group of bright young men buy into this philosophy and it has made them darn-near unbeatable.
Call if you want to talk any of this through. I'd love to help make your offense a little more deadly going into the fall.
Best wishes! Good luck!
Coach Matt Rogers
Phone: (312) 610-6045
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ncsa.rogersTwitter: https://twitter.com/madcoachdiary
Matt Rogers is an 18-year high school and college coach veteran. He has led two teams to the NCAA National Tournament and one team to a High School State Championship. His teams hold numerous school and one NCAA record. He has mentored and coached players at every level while serving as an athletics administrator at the high school and NCAA levels for 9 years. He has helped numerous players continue their careers at the professional level. He currently is the Director of Regional Recruiting for NCSA Athletic Recruiting where he educates families and high school coaches around the world on the realities of college recruiting. He has helped hundreds of young men and women from around the world achieve their dreams of playing at the college level. Coach presently lives in the Denver, CO area with his wife of 18 years and his two children.
To request Coach Rogers to speak at your school or event, you can reach him through any of his contact information above.