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Ball Screen Defense


(See more by Mike Thibault)

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Item Number: BD-05576
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Ball Screen Defense



Ball Screen Defense

Ensure your team is always prepared to shut down your opponent's ball screens!

  • Quickly determine the type of ball screen coverage your players should use so they're on the same page
  • Learn how to defend the two most common types of ball screens: side and top
  • Force your opponent into taking long 2-point jumpers - the most inefficient shot in basketball


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with Mike Thibault,
Washington Mystics (WNBA) Head Coach & General Manager;
all-time winningest coach in WNBA history;
3x WNBA Coach of the Year (2006, 2008, 2013);
2x NBA Champions with the Los Angeles Lakers (NBA) as an Assistant Coach (1980,1982);
World Basketball League (WBL) Coach of the Year (1988);
1993 Continental Basketball Association Championship

Ball screens have become problematic for defenses as they have become more commonplace in the game of basketball. In this on-court presentation, Washington Mystics head coach Mike Thibault uses his decades of experience in professional coaching to break down how to smother ball screens whenever your opponent attempts to use them.

Basics of Ball Screen Defense

Thibault presents a simple verbal and numbering system to help define coverages for virtually every ball screen action. Starting with side ball screen options, he breaks down the defense's vulnerabilities to various types of attacks and player personnel. This unique two-pronged approach helps players better understand both their defensive options as well as the "why" behind their actions.

Coach Thibault also covers making considerations based on the scouting report, including whether the player setting the ball screen is a good shooter or if the screener is better at rolling to the basket. Additionally, the strengths of the player receiving the ball screen are also considered. Deciphering this information leads to the preferred ways in which the ball screen can be defended.

Side Ball Screen Defense

Beginning from a four-out/one-in look, Coach Thibault covers the most utilized ball screen in the game today: the side ball screen. The on-ball defender works on preventing middle penetration and forcing the ball to the sideline. As the ball screen is being set, the screener's defender must communicate early.

The main type of defense Thibault uses against the side ball screen is to "down" it. This action requires the on-ball defender to force the ball to the baseline and the ball screener's defender to play "center field."

From there, the scouting report comes into play with regard to the ball screener's offensive abilities. To deal with a ball screener who is a good at rolling to the basket, the help defense rotates to clog the lane to prevent scoring opportunities. For a screener who is a good shooter, a variety of options are presented, including rotating to take away the shot.

Top Ball Screens

In defending ball screens set at or near the top of the key, Thibault covers how to "down" a ball screen on top against a ball screener who is a non-shooter. A hard show on the ball screen, a tactic that is rarely used, is also demonstrated to deal with this tactic.

To protect against a more dynamic perimeter player, the soft show or "3" is demonstrated. Here, the on-ball defender fights over the top of the ball screen with the screener's defender dropping before covering the ball handler until their defender recovers.

Thibault places a point of emphasis on communicating coverages early and loudly. This habit must be established to deal with crowd noise and so players can communicate to the on-ball defender who doesn't have the ability to see the ball screen coming.

The aggressive approach to ball screen defense that Coach Thibault illustrates in this video is designed to help teams exert control from the defensive side of the ball and force offenses into low-percentage actions and shots. This video will give you a high-level look at how your team can combat the increased use of pick & rolls by today's high-powered offenses.

52 minutes. 2019.

See more products by: Mike Thibault

See related products: Man-to-Man Defense
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