Spread Ball Screen Entries: Dual Action

By Randy Sherman

Using dual action on the swing pass adds ball and player circulation to early offense as well as setting up the spread ball screen. 

In basic spread ball screen offense, flowing from the break into the penetration action is accomplished with a simple drag screen. The playmaking ball handler dribbles over the ball screen from the preferred screener/roller. These two players may form a great pick-and-roll connection. Their defenders however, may also form a great pick-and-roll defensive connection.

Using a variety of spread ball screen entries from the break will increase ball circulation and player circulation thus increasing defensive decisions for the opponent. The entries also create different ball screen combinations while bringing multiple defenders into the action.

These three “dual action” early offense options feature ball movement, player movement and the signature penetration action (the spread ball screen) all while maintaining the desired spacing. Each of them are triggered by a swing pass from the player leading the break to the center trailer.

Swing Exchange

The first step in the transition to offense moment is to create the conditions needed for scoring by getting width then depth. In Frame 1 below the offense uses their direction and movement to create the structure for the offensive attack. The wings fill the deep corners at rim depth, the ball handler and forward fill the alleys and the center trailer fills the middle third. Player 1 initiates ball circulation with the swing pass to the center trailer.

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The dual action in Swing Exchange is a simple exchange (Frame 2). On airtime of the pass from Player 1 to Player 5 both sides execute an exchange. The player movement is sequenced with the ball movement.

In Frame 3, Player 5 may hit either player rising from the corners to the high wing area. Frame 4 assumes Player 5 has reversed to Player 3. Player 5 chases their pass into the ball screen for Player 3 who cuts right into a catch and dribble start. The transition to offense, the ball circulation and player circulation all led to the penetration moment while maintaining the familiar structure and positioning.

Swing Cross

In all three of these early offense options the transition movement and direction is the same – width then depth to create the spacing conditions needed to score. They differ by changing the dual actions on the centering pass to the trailer.

In Swing Cross the high wings cross and the corner players blast cut to the high wing on airtime of the pass to Player 5 (Frames 1 & 2).


Player 5 may pass to either side. Frame 4 assumes Player 5 has reversed to Player 3. Player 5 chases their pass into the ball screen for Player 3 who cuts right into a catch and dribble start. The player circulation changed the help defenders and moved offensive players into new positions while ultimately arriving in the familiar spread ball screen alignment.

Swing Down

The dual action in Swing Down sequences a pair of down screens with the swing pass to the center trailer. The objective is to disadvantage the defenders who will potentially be involved in the ball screen. The defenders will have to defend an off-ball screen followed by a ball screen.


On airtime of the swing pass in transition to center trailer, the high wings set down screens for the players in the corners (Frame 2 above). Again, Player 5 may pass to either cutter.

Frame 4 assumes Player 5 has reversed to Player 3. Player 5 chases their pass into the ball screen for Player 3 who cuts right into a catch and dribble start. The hope is the down screen will enhance the ball screen and make the penetration moment more effective.

These three options off the swing pass could be viewed as elementary false movement proceeding the desired structure and action to create an advantage from. The width and depth of the transition followed by the ball and player movement can in a way disguise the real advantage creator – the ball screen.

Involving multiple players in the ball screen also brings multiple defenders into the action perhaps revealing a favorable combination and a weak defender. The dual action series from the swing pass can be used to add a touch of variety to the basic drag screen attack.

Continue the conversation:

The dual action series above is from our latest playbook Spread Ball Screen Entries. It features a systematic approach to Spread Ball Screen Entries from Early Offense. In addition to the swing options above, the playbook features chapters on drags, flips, dribble pushes and screen aways.

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For help with practice planning and implementation of an early offense attack featuring The Four T’s or other offensive elements for finding, using and creating offensive advantages please contact us and/or join our community for basketball coaches!

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Randy Sherman is the owner and founder of Radius Athletics - a basketball coaching consulting firm - where he consults with basketball coaches at all levels on coaching philosophy, practice planning, Xs & Os and teaching a conceptual style of basketball. While a head basketball coach at the the interscholastic level, Sherman's teams won 197 games in nine seasons.
March 10, 2018 – St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. – ST. LOUIS, MO – MARCH 10: Alabama guard Collin Sexton (2) drives the baseline around Kentucky guard Shal Gilgeous-Alexander (22) during a Southeastern Conference Basketball Tournament game between the Kentucky Wildcats and the Alabama Crimson Tide on March 10, 2018, at Scottrade Center, St. Louis, MO. Kentucky won, 86-63. (Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire) (Credit Image: © Keith Gillett/Icon SMI via ZUMA Press)

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