Back Screen in Basketball (Complete Guide)

One of the most effective offensive strategies in basketball is the use of back screens.

Back screens are a fundamental part of the game that can create scoring opportunities, confuse defenders, and open up space for teammates.

Below we look at the concept of back screens in basketball, their importance, and how they can be effectively utilized to gain an advantage on the court.

What is a Back Screen?

A back screen, also known as a back pick, is a strategic move where an offensive player sets a screen on a defender from behind.

The purpose of a back screen is to create separation between the defender and the offensive player’s teammate, allowing the teammate to receive a pass or make a cut toward the basket.

The Benefits of Back Screens

Back screens offer several advantages for the offensive team.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the key benefits:

  • Creating Open Shots: Back screens can create open shots for teammates by forcing defenders to navigate through screens and potentially lose track of their assignments. This can lead to open jump shots or layup opportunities near the basket.
  • Confusing Defenders: Back screens can confuse defenders by forcing them to make split-second decisions. This confusion can lead to defensive breakdowns and mismatches that the offense can exploit.
  • Opening Up Space: Back screens can open up space on the court, allowing offensive players to drive to the basket or make cuts toward the hoop. This increased spacing makes it harder for defenders to help and recover, creating more scoring opportunities.
  • Creating Mismatches: Back screens can create mismatches by forcing smaller defenders to switch onto bigger offensive players. This can lead to advantageous post-up situations or mismatches in speed and athleticism.

How to Execute Back Screens Effectively

Executing back screens effectively requires proper timing, communication, and teamwork. Here are some key tips to keep in mind:

  • Communication: Players must communicate with each other to ensure they are on the same page. This includes signaling when to set the screen and making eye contact to anticipate the movement of teammates.
  • Timing: Back screens should be set at the right moment to catch defenders off guard. Setting the screen too early or too late can diminish its effectiveness.
  • Movement: Offensive players should move quickly and decisively after setting the screen. This movement can create confusion for defenders and open up scoring opportunities.
  • Screening Technique: Proper screening technique is crucial for an effective back screen. Players should establish a wide base, make contact with the defender, and hold the screen until the offensive player has cleared it.

Examples of Back Screens in Action

Let’s take a look at some examples of back screens being effectively utilized in basketball:

How to execute a back screen in basketball

Back Screen Drills

Below we have a video of some drills for back screens:

Basketball Drills – Setting Screens

FAQs about Back Screens in Basketball

1. What is the purpose of a back screen?

The purpose of a back screen is to create separation between the defender and the offensive player’s teammate, allowing the teammate to receive a pass or make a cut towards the basket.

2. How do back screens benefit the offense?

Back screens benefit the offense by creating open shots, confusing defenders, opening up space on the court, and creating mismatches.

3. Can back screens be used in both half-court and fast-break situations?

Yes, back screens can be utilized in both half-court and fast-break situations.

In the half-court, they can create scoring opportunities, while in fast-break situations, they can help create open lanes for players to attack the basket.

4. Are back screens only effective for perimeter players?

No, back screens can be effective for both perimeter players and post players.

They can create open shots for perimeter players and mismatches for post players.

5. How can defenders counter back screens?

Defenders can counter back screens by communicating and switching assignments, fighting through screens, or anticipating the screen and denying the offensive player’s movement.

6. Are there any specific plays that commonly incorporate back screens?

Yes, there are several plays that commonly incorporate back screens, such as the “Flex Offense,” “Horns,” and “Motion Offense.”

These plays utilize back screens to create scoring opportunities and confuse defenses.

7. Can back screens be used at all levels of basketball?

Yes, back screens can be used at all levels of basketball, from youth leagues to professional leagues.

The effectiveness of back screens lies in their ability to create confusion and open up scoring opportunities, regardless of the level of play.

8. How can teams practice executing back screens?

Teams can practice executing back screens through drills that focus on timing, communication, and proper screening technique.

These drills can simulate game-like situations and help players develop a better understanding of when and how to set effective back screens.

9. Are there any risks associated with using back screens?

While back screens can be highly effective, there are some risks involved. Poorly executed screens can result in offensive fouls or turnovers.

Additionally, if defenders anticipate the screen and adjust their positioning accordingly, the effectiveness of the back screen may be diminished.

10. Can back screens be used as a primary offensive strategy?

Back screens can be a valuable component of an offensive strategy, but they are typically used in conjunction with other plays and tactics.

Incorporating back screens into a team’s offensive repertoire can add variety and create additional scoring opportunities.


Basketball is a dynamic sport that requires players to constantly move and make split-second decisions.

Back screens are a fundamental aspect of basketball that can greatly benefit the offense.

They create open shots, confuse defenders, open up space on the court, and create mismatches.

By executing back screens effectively, teams can gain a significant advantage and increase their scoring opportunities.

Proper communication, timing, movement, and screening technique are essential for successful implementation.

Whether it’s the Golden State Warriors utilizing back screens to create open shots for their sharpshooters or the San Antonio Spurs using them to create driving lanes, back screens have proven to be a valuable offensive tool in basketball.

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