Pick and Roll in Basketball


Here we are going to be walking through what a pick and roll is, steps to best execute it, who to watch, and an overall way to get better at it. 

What is the Pick and Roll in basketball?

So in the pick and roll, there are two people involved: You have the ball handler and the screener. The ball handler is usually a guard or point guard and the screener is usually a big/forward (post player).  

The main three pick and roll positions are:

  • High pick and roll/ Top of the key area
  • Wing Pick and Roll
  • Corner pick and Roll

When the pick and roll is taking place the ball handler will try to dribble his defender into the screener. The screener’s job is to be stationary by the time the dribbler gets to the screen. If the screener is still moving, the refs will call an offensive foul for a moving screen. 

After the screener sets the screen they will move directly towards the basket (screen and roll), or rolls to the basket, in the attempt to receive a pass and make a layup. In the pick and pop, after the screener sets the screen they will stay far from the basket, trying to find an open space, and prepare to receive the pass to shoot a jump shot. (Pops out to the perimeter trying to find the open area).

The pick and roll is the oldest used play in basketball because it gives the offensive players the best scoring opportunity to make an open shot.

This is because after the screen takes place, the defensive player guarding the ball should be removed from the play. That’s why most basketball plays typically incorporate some kind of ball screen at some point in the play. 

5 Tips for Executing the P&R Perfectly

Come Off Of The Screen As Close As Possible.

Any screen that you are coming off of, the goal should be to come off of the screen as close as possible. The Pick and Roll is no different. When coming off of a ball screen the handler should be sure that the screener is set, and once the screener is set it is the handler’s job to drive to the basket.

When attempting to come off the best thing that you can do is try to be hip to hip and shoulder to shoulder with the screener. This is more important than the pace of you going off of the screen. Because even if you’re moving slow, if you can create space and make the defender run into the screen you’ve won that mini battle. 

Angle Of The Screener

The Angle of the player that sets a screen is important because it sets up what happens after the screen occurs. The screen should have their back in the general area of where they want the handler to get the shot. 

If your goal is to get a layup the angle will be different if your goal is to set the handler up to shoot a 3, or start an offense. 

Once the screener has that concept down, it will make it easier to understand where and how to set the screen. 

Timing Of The Screen

The timing is important for a few reasons. Earlier we had mentioned the screener having to bet set, and the reason for that is so that the screener doesn’t get a moving screen (offensive foul) called on them. So you want the person to be completely set, but you also don’t want them waiting for the handler long either. The longer they wait (standing still) the easier it will be to guard defensively. 

The timing is also important because you will want the screener to run into the screen. You want this to happen so that they create as much space between them and the big that is guarding the screen. The more space created before the screen takes place, the easier it will be for the guard to make plays after the screen occurs. 

Knowledge Of The Defensive Players

This is next level Pick&Roll thinking. When operating (because you need to be surgical) a ball screen, it’s important to know where everyone is on the court. That will include offensive and defensive players. 

The reason for this is because you will need to know who will help on the roll, where rotations are coming from, where rotations are going to, and when/where/why a teammate will be open. The best way to know these things is to watch film, pay attention during the game, and continue to dissect the defense. 

It’s important to know where your teammates are, but it is equally important to know the place where the other team´s players are going to be. 


Knowing Personnel on your team

This, along with #4, are advanced level thinking but when you get to higher levels of basketball it is vital to have an understanding of. 

When operating the ball screen it’s important to know the personnel of the players on your team. Which players are good shooters, which players are willing passers, which screeners like to roll, and which like to pop, you need to know where a shooter likes to catch their passes, and where the roller may want to receive the pass. 

If you don’t know all of these things you can still be successful and make good plays. However, if you do know these things it will help you become more successful and help your teammates become successful.

What is Spain Pick and Roll in Basketball?

The Spain Pick and Roll, also known as the "Spanish Pick and Roll" or the "High-Low Pick and Roll," is a variation of the traditional pick and roll play in basketball. It involves a ball-handler using a screen from a big man, typically a center or power forward, to create scoring opportunities. The Spain Pick and Roll was popularized by the Spanish national team and is often used to exploit mismatches and create scoring opportunities near the basket.

In the Spain Pick and Roll, the big man sets a back screen for the ball-handler, who typically starts the play at the top of the key or in the middle of the floor. The ball-handler then uses the screen, also known as a ball screen, to get around the defender and attack the basket. The big man, known as the roll man, rolls to the basket looking for a pass from the ball-handler.

Defending against the Spain Pick and Roll can be challenging, as the defense must decide how to defend the ball-handler and the roll man. Some teams choose to drop coverage and allow the ball-handler to shoot, while others try to trap the ball-handler and force a turnover.

The shooter´s defender must also be aware of the roll man, who can roll to the rim or pop out to the perimeter for a jump shot. The screener´s defender must also be prepared to hedge or switch on the ball screen to help defend the ball-handler.

screen and roll in basketball