the Pick and Roll

How to Execute A Pick and Roll in Basketball (Guide For Beginners)

The pick and roll is a common offensive basketball play. It is used to create space for cuts, shots, passes, or drives. Here’s how to do it and some drills to master it.

So here’s the scenario: you’re on offence and your teammate, the dude currently handling the ball, tells you to set a pick (or screen) for him.

You have no idea what he’s talking about.

You walk to where he’s pointing at and stand there. His defender slides into you, knocking you to the ground.

Now, you’re upset.

And to make matters worse, the opposing team calls an offensive foul on you because you were moving when you screened.

You call for a sub and shake your head in disappointment as walk over to the bench. You pull out your phone to search for what a pick is. And you come across this article.

What Is a Pick and Roll?

Since you were gracious enough to pick this article over the thousands already online, I’m going to be a nice guy and tell you what a pick and roll is:

A pick and roll is a basketball play that is most often used to create space (or an opening) for a player to pass, shoot, or attack the basket. A pick (or screen) can also be called by non-ball handlers to get open looks for shots.

To set a pick, a player would act as a solid screen for her teammate to run by, thus stopping or slowing her defender.

I will add that any player, position-wise, can set a screen. But it is usually more effective when a bigger player, like a center or power forward, sets it.

Also, any player can call for a screen. But it is more effective if a shooter or passer uses it because they can create more plays out of the pick and roll.

Got it? Cool, cool, cool.

The pick and roll is one of the most effective plays in basketball. That’s why it’s one of the most used plays in the sport.

Some teams’ playbook revolves around this single play.

It’s good because it’s simple. With a single screen, you can create space for a multitude of different plays.

You can stagger a trailing defender, allowing you to get an open shot. Or you can create a mismatch, allowing your big to be defended by a smaller player.

The options are endless (well, it’s finite, but you get what I mean)!

How to Set a Screen

To set a screen, the ball handler will call a player over and direct them to where she wants them to create a screen. If it’s on the left side, she will point or look at that position.

The screener will go to where he is supposed to set the pick. He will stand there and tense up his body, making sure he’s not moving. If he moves, there a good chance an offensive foul will be called on him.

Once the screen is set, the ball handler will direct her defender into the screen. From here, she can attack the basket, shoot a shot, or pass the ball to an open player.

To learn all the pick and roll options, check out the following tutorial from Larry Bird:

Drills to Practise the Pick and Roll

“Are there any drills or exercises I can do to practise this amazing play?” you may be wondering.

I was just about to get to that before you rudely interrupted me.

But it is okay, I’ll forgive you –you were just anxious to learn.

Anywhoo, there are a few drills you can do. But here are two that I enjoyed doing.

One is for team practice and one is for you loners with no friends (just kidding! Don’t be so sensitive you loner!)

Solo Drill

Pick and Roll

First, the solo drill because I felt bad mocking you guys.

For this drill, you’re going to need a chair or a basketball dummy.

To start, you’re going to set the dummy somewhere near the free-throw line and it’s going to set a left screen. Now, you’re going to use the screen and try to score a basket.

Oh, and you’re only allowed 3 or fewer dribbles.

Do this 5 times and try to make 3 or more shots.

Once 5 reps are completed, re-position the chair or dummy to set a right-sided screen. Repeat the steps from before. You should be doing 10 reps in total.

Once that set is done, move to a different area on the court (around the sideline, corner 3, etc.) and run the drill again. Do this 5 times.

You should end up doing 5 sets total (so 50 reps, if my math is correct and it should be because I’m Asian).

You should strive to make 70 percent of your shots. So, if you’re taking 50 shots, you should try to make 35 shots. And this math is correct because I used a calculator (just because I’m Asian doesn’t mean I’m good at math, you jerk!).

Team Drill

For those of you with friends, here’s how to do the group drill.

Okay, this drill is essentially a 2-on-2 game. But the difference is that all offence has to start with the pick and roll. And the ball handler is only allowed 7 dribbles.

And if the ball handler decides to pass the ball, the receiver is only allowed 1 dribble before he has to shoot it.

So, it’s quite different than a 2-on-2 game, now that I’m thinking about it.

But anyway, the goal of the offence is to score via the pick. The goal of the defence is to prevent the basket (read this article to learn how to effectively defend the pick-and-roll). If the D is successful (they turnover or stop the O), they get to swap roles and play offence.

You can play to how many points you want -7, 11, or 21. But the first team to reach the goal is the winner, obviously.

If you’re unsure how to do this drill, watch the video above. It’s similar to what I showed but more basic. Mine has tweaks to it to make it more competitive.

Final Thoughts

Give these two drills a try and see how it improves your game.

Hopefully, they’ll help you master the common, simple art of the pick and roll.