All-Access Kansas Basketball Practice: Defending Screens

In this week’s edition of All-Access, we return to Lawrence, Kansas for a behind-the-scenes glimpse at a Kansas men’s basketball practice. Head coach Bill Self instructs his players about proper technique when defending certain screens, including ball, cross, and down screens. The team then splits up among baskets and works on defending each type of screen on both sides of the floor.

Defending Ball Screens

First, Coach Self gets into defending ball screens and reminds players to hedge the screen on the backside. Another key is to change your feet from driving to the outside to driving to the inside where the help is.

Meanwhile, it’s critical to hedge on the “same board” and make your opponent do one of three things: pick up the ball, change direction, or charge. To switch and play the ball screen correctly, go over the ball screen and under your teammate.

Watch below as the players simulate the action at different baskets. They go four times total, with two reps on each side.


Defending Cross Screens and Down Screens

Based on the way Kansas plays defensively, the team doesn’t switch often. However, when they do, this is how it works.

When it comes to guards and it’s a “like” screen, meaning a screen by a 1, 2, or 3 player, then players will switch on all ball screens and hand offs. If it’s a big and a little, the team won’t switch on anything until its under 10 seconds on the shot clock. In this case, the team will call out “solid” and will switch on all handoffs and ball screens. Bigs are different. Bigs switch on all screens.

Let’s say the offense passes the ball from the wing to down low. We are now playing low post defense. If the ball is beneath the free throw line extended, then look to try and get the low side.

All the while, the big man in the middle should look to get as big as he can on the cross screen. Don’t let the screener get his chest to your shoulder. By maintaining a huge presence, it creates space as the big in the center can push through. When the cross screen occurs, don’t let the offense go body to body. Create space to get through.

Watch below as the squad runs through cross and down screens at full speed.


The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “All Access Kansas Basketball Practice with Bill Self.” Check out our entire collection of All Access videos by clicking here


Thanks Coach Self and Championship Productions. Great stuff. Having the screen defender place his hand on the hip of the screener to prevent the ball handler from doing the quick split is brilliant. I’ve updated how we handle ball screens now.

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