Player Development: Keys to Using Down Screens

By John Leonzo

Setting screens off the ball for effective shooters can be a great way to free them up to score the ball or to draw multiple defenders towards them and free up space elsewhere on the court. In this blog, I will talk about all the ways you can use a down screen. Be sure to read all the way to the end so you can download a PDF with all of the teaching points as well!

Essentially, there are two ways to cut off of a screen:

  1. Curl the screen if the defender trails behind
  2. Fade the screen if the defender tries to go under it and meet you on the other side

Once the initial cut has been determined by the cutter, they then have a handful of options to look at based on the location of their defender and help defenders as well:

  • If you have space right off the catch, shoot the ball
  • If you do not feel as if there is enough space to shoot the ball, push the ball out to space, sprint to the ball, and then shoot in the space created
  • Another option, if there is not enough space to shoot, is to pump fake and let the recovering defender fly by. Once the defender has left their feet, shoot the ball in the new space created
  • If there is no one around upon catching the ball, attack the rim hard for a finish at the rim

Below you will find a video with examples, voice-overs, and slides breaking down all of the actions that can occur off a down screen:

Let’s take a look now at some different ways to teach playing off screens:

Drill #1: Pin Downs On Air

FastTradePreview (87)

Set-up: Start with a shooter in the corner and a player or coach on the wing.

Step 1: The player will perform the following reads and shots:

  • Curl Catch and Shoot
  • Fade Catch and Shoot
  • Curl Catch and Go
  • Fade Catch and Go
  • Curl Push Out Dribble
  • Fade Push Out Dribble
  • Curl Shot Fake Shot
  • Fade Shot Fake Shot

Additional Notes: You can have the player perform whatever number of reps you want of each read, or you can have them cycle through each rep one after one.

Drill #2: Down Screens With a Guided Defender

FastTradePreview (88)

Set-up: One coach and shooter start down on the baseline. One passer is on the wing.

Step 1: The player will begin to use the screen by making contact with the coach. As the player cuts off the screen, the coach will either trail or short cut the screen and either leave space or close the space. The shooter must make a read and shoot the according shot.

Step 2: Play for a certain number of makes or time.

Drill #3: One on One Down Screen Advantage

FastTradePreview (89)

Set-up: Place 3 cones in a diagonal line. The shooter will always pass by the middle cone, while the defender has to run around the back cone or in front of the top cone.

Step 1: The offensive player will read the defensive player and cut according to which cone they choose.

Step 2: The coach will pass the ball to 1 and live 1v1 play commences.

Step 3: Play to 10. Points scored with no dribble are worth 2, points scored any other way are worth 1.

I hope that the drills and video are helpful to you and your players. Please reach out to me and let me know if there is anything that I can do to help you!


The following two tabs change content below.

John Leonzo

John Leonzo is the CEO of John Leonzo Basketball where he seeks to provide the highest quality training for both players and coaches. Through on the court training with players and online courses for coaches, John is able to make an impact in all the areas of the game.

Latest posts by John Leonzo (see all)


Related posts