What Is An Illegal Screen In Basketball?

The illegal screen is the rule in basketball that causes the most consternation among fans, even more so than traveling. Screens have become an increasingly important aspect of the offense for every team due to …

What Is An Illegal Screen In Basketball?

The illegal screen is the rule in basketball that causes the most consternation among fans, even more so than traveling.

Screens have become an increasingly important aspect of the offense for every team due to improvements in three-point shooting and the game’s trend toward greater spacing.

Every game, you will see on-ball screens, pick-and-rolls, pick-and-pops, and other similar plays.

In every game, the teams perform dozens of these moves. One and only thing is. A great number of screens come very close to breaking the law.

Now, we will break down in this essay what exactly defines an unlawful screen in the game of basketball. We will also demonstrate how you can instruct players to avoid establishing illegal screens.

A screening of an offensive player must comply with several standards for it to be considered a valid screen.

When a screen has been prepared, the player is required to:

  • Keep in mind their posture.
  • Provide the defender with the room (one step) to get around the screen.
  • This is where the majority of players run into difficulties.

Defenders are taught to predict screens and slide around them to keep their defensive position on their man while avoiding being blocked by screens.

Illegal screens are frequently the result of a defender correctly predicting a screen and “beating” their man to the screen’s location, forcing the screener to adjust their placement.

In basketball, many circumstances might lead to the calling of an illegal screen. The defensive player must be given sufficient room to maneuver to avoid being blocked by the offensive player.

There is room for interpretation because the decision ultimately rests with the official. Every official has a unique interpretation of what it means to have “reasonable space.” What kind of room should you offer the defender to move around in?

When setting your screen, giving the defender a full stride of space is best. This will keep you from getting caught off guard.

If you consistently build a solid foundation whenever you set a screen in basketball, the referee will be more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt and let you off the hook if the play is on the edge of being called illegal.

Types Of Illegal Screens

The following are some examples of straightforward scenarios that could occur during a basketball game and cause the referee to blow their whistle due to an unlawful screen.

What Is An Illegal Screen In Basketball?
  • Unauthorized use of one’s hands when screening, including but not limited to holding, shoving, or hitting the defender.
  • Establishing the screen and making contact with the defender by leaning in with the shoulder or bumping them.
  • Putting their leg out to stop the player from playing
  • Moving at an excessive speed and failing to set up the screen contribute to poor technique.
  • The player handling the ball loses patience and rushes the defender into the screener who has set himself up too early.

One of the most successful ways for the offense to gain an advantage is through screens, often known as “picks.”

Both “on the ball” (for the ball handler) and “off ball” configurations are possible for screens. Because screens are so effective at doing the following, most offensive possessions are built around them.

  • Making room for firing and driving at the same time
  • Generating mismatches

There is no shortage of players — typically centers — who have created a name for themselves in the NBA with their bone-crushing screens. This is because the pick-and-roll is the cornerstone of many offensive sets in the league.

Humphries allows Rondo several steps to get out of the way of the contact, maintains his position, and remains straight in the hips, arms, and legs.

A screen for a textbook. Rondo’s teammates’ responsibility is to yell “pick” at him and let him know that he is running straight into a wall of bricks.

Some teams have even started tabs on what they call “screen assists,” which refers to creating open shooting opportunities using effective pick-and-roll defense.

If you watch a Utah Jazz game with the local commentators, you will hear them praise Rudy Gobert’s screen assist numbers several times. It is impossible to avoid hearing this.

However, since so many choices are being placed, many players are becoming more inventive in how they set them.

Teaching Players To Avoid Illegal Screens

Make it clear to players that they are expected to set lawful, clean, and difficult screens. Players who attempt to go by a defender by cheating on their screens by adding an extra elbow or sticking their backside into the defender as they try to get by are frequently referred to as cheap or dirty players.

What Is An Illegal Screen In Basketball?

You don’t want to be the dishonest squad, do you? At lower levels of competition, it is more beneficial to play a fair and legal game rather than try to gain an advantage by any means necessary in the hopes that the officials will not notice.

Penalty For An Illegal Screen

The offensive team loses possession of the ball to the defensive team whenever one of its players is called for using an illegal screen.

The screener is called for an offensive foul, which adds to the total number of fouls he has accumulated during the game.

Free throws will be awarded to the defensive team if they commit an unlawful screen foul while in a bonus scenario. This has the potential to make a significant impact on the flow of the game.

To prevent your team from being penalized for using unlawful screens while playing games, you must instruct your players to practice setting proper screens throughout practice.


1. What does a screen mean in basketball?

A ball screen, also recognized as a basketball screen or a select, is a basketball play practiced and implemented by a basketball team.

In this play, a teammate positions their body in front of a defensive midfielder to create the space for another teammate to shoot, strike the basket, or pass the ball.

Without defending intrusion. This play is also recognized as a pick.

2. Do illegal screens count as personal fouls?

For a moving screen to be considered a foul, there must be illegal contact; if there is no illegal contact, then there is no foul, regardless of how much the screener moves.

It is a foul on the screener if they hold on to the defender, lean into the defender, or move into the defender to cause contact with them.

3. What is a screen foul?

An offensive foul is committed when a player attempting to screen another player makes contact with the defender while attempting to block them.

4. What are all the screens in basketball?

A screen in basketball that is set on a defender who is directly protecting the ball is referred to as an on-ball screen.

This type of screen is called a pick or ball screen. There are many different kinds of on-ball screens, but some of the more prominent ones are the high ball screen, the side screen, the phasing screen, and the drag screen, to mention a few.

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