Basketball Offense: The Down Screen

Screens are an essential part of a basketball team’s offense. The down screen can help get players open for a shot.

December 13, 2018

It’s the final 30 seconds. Your team needs a basket to secure the win. As you make your way up the court with the ball, a defender begins pressuring you as you cross mid-court. Time is running out and your team needs a player to get free for a shot.


That is when a screen can be a gamechanger.


To run a basketball offense, teams must work together as a cohesive unit to get ball handlers open. One of the most effective ways to do so is using the down screen.




The down screen is used to free up an offensive player for a shot. To execute the down screen:

  • When your teammate reverses the basketball and comes down to set the screen away, you want to get to a spot near where the screen will occur.
  • You then need to create separation between yourself and your defender by using your teammate as a screen. To do this, you want to set up the defense with a fake. Step in toward the defender’s body before exploding the other direction around the screener.
  • As you go around your teammate who is serving as the screener, you should be very close to their outside hip so that you force the defender into your teammate.
  • Your motion around the screener should be low, sharp and tight to the screen. You also need to be ready to shoot once you create separation.

While performing the fake, you may see a defender shooting the gap. This happens when a defender goes around the screener in an attempt to anticipate and get in the gap between you and where the ball is being passed. When a defender shoots the gap, you can bump the screen to the corner and prepare for a catch and shoot.  To bump the screen:

  • Instead of going in toward the ball and where the defender has moved, you should instead drop back away from the screen and defender.
  •  Use the defender’s positioning against them to help create separation to get open for a shot.

Getting open makes the game easier. Proper execution of screening action can lead to more open, easier shots. Use this to your advantage to gain an edge on the defense.


The screen is an effective way to create space on the court. The “Quick Rip” is another move that creates space and can attack defensive closeouts.