Knight School: How to Use Effective Screens By Reading the Defense

Follow along as Hall of Fame basketball coach Bob Knight breaks down seven different screening techniques in a 2-on-2 setting. The screening drills are also effective at teaching players how to read defenses and execute proper picks. Look for ways to incorporate these excellent drills into your practices this season.

Intro: Part-Method Philosophy

Coach Knight begins this session by detailing one of his teaching philosophies: The Part-Method Manor of Teaching. Through this philosophy, teams work on the parts or certain skills and get the players to learn the parts of the offense, and then put it all together in the whole of the offense. The same goes with the defense.

For Coach Knight, he’d have a breakdown period with his teams where they’d work on parts of their offense and parts of their defense. For drills that involved individuals, he would run them for five minutes. When it involved the team, he’d go for 10 minutes.

Also, Coach Knight loves to get into something, work hard at it, get out of it, and move on to something else. Players have the tendency to get bored or lack focus if they are doing the same things over and over again. Plus, basketball is a game that changes quicker than any team sport that we have, so look to practice that way.


2-on-2 Screening

The following drills are a great example of how Coach Knight breaks down screening and later fits them into the overall offensive scheme.

Set-Up: Get into a 2-on-2 man situation, with the ball carrier at the top of the key. Get an assistant coach on the side. The ball will get passed to the coach. That passer now sets a down screen for his teammate. From here, you now have five options. Coaches won’t say a particular option. Instead, players must read the defense. Below are five options from this set-up.

5 Options:

1 – Make a down screen and have your teammate come over the top.

2 – Start with a screen up high and alter your screening position to try and get behind the picked player. Now your teammate makes a back cut off of that screen.

3 – Start in a bit tighter this time. Make your screen a little bit further down towards the paint. Have your teammate pop back off the pick.

4 – Come down and set your screen. This time your teammate comes underneath and the original screener now pops out.

5 – This is perhaps the most effective option. Set the screen. Your teammate comes up. Meanwhile, the screener slips to the basket.


Back Screen

Align one player on the wing and the other just outside the low block. Start by reversing the ball to the coach. Step out with a back screen and set up the cut. Read it and look to go.

Flare Screen

Start with the ball on top and in the middle of the floor. Pass to your coach and then have your teammate make a flare screen. The coach can bring the ball to the cutter or the screener (who is coming off of pick and heading to the bucket).


The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Bob Knight: Practice Planning and Drills for Mental Toughness.” To check out more videos focusing on practice planning and organization, visit our DVD library


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