Basketball Tips: How to Run the Pick & Roll and Pick & Pop

Improve your basketball passing skills and learn even more ways to attack the basket and score more points.

October 13, 2016

Looking to learn how to run a pick and roll and a pick and pop this basketball season? Former collegiate basketball players and current DICK’S Sporting Goods Associates Bob Garbade and Nick Rivers are here to show you how to perform these Pick and Roll and Pick and Pop Drills. These drills can help build chemistry between a guard and the center who is setting a screen.




To perform a pick and roll, the guard should create a sign that tells the center to perform a screen. Once the center sees the sign, he will come to the guard and set an imaginary screen. Before the guard makes a move, they’ll want to make sure their teammate is ready so they don’t get into foul trouble during a game. Why? Because if they aren’t set when the guard rolls, then they’ll get called for an offensive foul. Also, before a guard attempts the pick and roll, they should always fake the opposite direction they want to go using a jab step so their teammate can get into a good screening position.


Once the center is set, the guard gives the fake, and rolls past the center nice and low with their shoulder near the center’s hip. The center wants to keep their leg planted and open up toward the basket once the guard pulls away. Centers will do so by pivoting, never losing sight of or turning their back to their teammate. This is when the center reads the defense and decides whether or not to call for the ball. They should only call for the ball if there are no defenders in the lane. If they do call for the ball, they’ll go ahead and finish the play with a layup.





The first pick and roll drill is the pocket pass play. This takes place when the center calls for the ball after realizing that the lane to the basket is clear for them to make an easy layup. When the center calls for the ball, the guard should perform a quick pocket pass, which is a low bounce pass that passes beneath the pockets of the defenders.






The second pick and roll drill is the over-the-top pass. To perform this drill, run a typical screen play, but instead of throwing a quick pocket pass, the guard should throw a lob to the center after they call for the ball. He or she should do so by showing his hand as a target for the pass. This pass is useful if the defenders are low enough that a pocket pass would just get knocked away or stolen if attempted. Since there will always be a defender nearby, the guard can attempt a pump fake. Even though you are just practicing, always pretend that you’re in a game situation, ensuring that muscle memory will kick in during game time.




The pick and pop series is a lot like the pick and roll series. However, the main difference is that there is a defender in the lane so the center can’t roll to the post. Instead, he or she will venture out toward the three-point line and call for the ball there instead of down low to take a deep shot. Remember, the guard will still come off the screen like they would in a pick and roll. Their job is still the same. It’s the center’s duty to read the defense and decide whether to roll down low or pop out to the perimeter.






Sometimes the center will not call for the ball if they are heavily defended after rolling or popping. If this happens, the guard should take the initiative to shoot the ball or pass to a different teammate after coming off the center’s screen.


These drills will improve teammate chemistry, passing skills and show you the many different ways to attack the basket so you can add more points to the scoreboard.