Plays YOU Can Use: Ball Screen Sets

By Doug Brotherton

Ball Screen Sets

The ball screen is one of the most popular and most effective actions in basketball. From Stockton to Malone to the Spread Ball Screen Offense, screening for the ball-handler has been a staple of every coach’s playbook.

This week, our Plays YOU Can Use series features 10 ball screen sets and counters that every coach should have in their playbook.

The first set is a good late shot clock call, which is dependent on the ability of the point guard to read the help defense. There is also a counter play, “1-Up Pop,” which has a back screen for a lob. If the defense switches on the back screen, it creates a high/low look, to get a post touch.


Plays of the Week - Ball Screen Sets
1-Up Pop

Plays of the Week - Ball Screen Sets

The next series of ball screen sets have become very popular in the NBA. It has gotten to the point that teams are having to add “Stack Rules,” to their defensive ball screen coverage. The two sets that we will show are a high ball screen, into a back screen. The counter is a high ball screen, into a down screen. Both STS sets are very difficult to guard, due to the spacing of the set, with both corners filled by shooters. You can look for the back screen set in the 2017 NBA Playoffs, as the Houston Rockets have run it multiple times, with Eric Gordon setting the back screen.

Stack 25

Plays of the Week - Ball Screen Sets

Stack 52

Plays of the Week - Ball Screen Sets

Another popular action is the “Horns Action.” Below is the basic Horns Action, followed by two counters, which are specifically designed to get a shot for a post player, who can shoot it. If your personnel does not allow you to play a post player who can stretch the floor, then simply put a guard in as one of the screeners in your “Horns Action.”


Plays of the Week - Ball Screen Sets

Horns Flare

Plays of the Week - Ball Screen Sets

Horns Double

Plays of the Week - Ball Screen Sets

The final group of ball screen sets will be following an “Iverson Cut.” In these sets, the action is triggered by the Iverson Cut, and is followed by a screen-the-ballscreener action. This makes it difficult for the defense to “Ice/Down” or “Blitz/Trap” the ball screen, which are the common defensive adjustments to attack a wing ball screen. Throughout this entire post, my favorite set is the “Iverson STS Flare.” It is a terrific set, with multiple actions, and can be run on consecutive possessions. This is a great set to run at the beginning of a quarter. If you get a good look, then you can “milk the cow,” meaning you run it until you aren’t getting anything.

Iverson STS Chase

Plays of the Week - Ball Screen Sets

Iverson STS Flare

Plays of the Week - Ball Screen Sets

To wrap up the article, one common thought is that if a team has a dynamic guard, and runs great ball screen actions, you can just trap the ball screen. Here is a simple counter to that, which should allow your dynamic guard to get down hill. This is an action that was very successful for the OKC Thunder, who have arguably the most dynamic guard in the world.  Hopefully this has provided you with a series that fits your personnel, and can help you generate an important basket late in your season.

STS Zipper Flip

Plays of the Week - Ball Screen Sets

Let us know what you think about these ball screen sets or if there is a ball screen action that we missed. Contact us on twitter or in the comments below.



Plays YOU Can Use: Elbow Series

Plays YOU Can Use: Ball Screen Sets 

Plays YOU Can Use: Pistol Action & Counters

Plays YOU Can Use: Iverson Sets

Plays YOU Can Use: Lob Sets 

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Doug Brotherton is currently the girls varsity basketball coach at The Village School, in Houston, Texas. He has over 15 years of head coaching experience, across multiple levels. He has coached boys high school basketball, girls high school basketball, and started the Men's Basketball program at Mid-Michigan Community College. He is a former NBA Regional Advanced Scout for the Chicago Bulls. He is the founder of Dynamic Coaching Tools ( Coach Brotherton was elected as the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Large Private School Board Member. Coach Brotherton helps develop the drill book and coaches packets for Jay Bilas Basketball Camps, as well as participating in its Coaching Development Program and presenting on the benefits of FastDraw. In 2018, Positive Coaches Alliance selected Coach Brotherton as one of the 50 Double-Goal Coach National Award Winners, for his positive impact on his athletes on the court and in life. In 2020, Brotherton led the Village School to the TAPPS 6A State Championship, earning Coach of the Year Honors in Texas. He was also the lead of the TABC Virtual Clinic, which featured over 100 speakers, made up of some of the biggest names in basketball.

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    • Doug Brotherton said:

      Thank you! I appreciate the feedback!
      “Plays YOU can use; Iverson Sets” which will be sent out today.
      I hope that you enjoy!

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