Ball Screen Defense - Ice, Drop, and Switch

By Joe Haefner

Defensive expert Nick LoGalbo prefers to master 3 defensive coverages for ball screens with their Outer 1/3 Defense (AKA No Middle Defense).

This has been the most effective way for Coach LoGalbo's teams to compete and beat more talented teams in the highly competitive Chicago area.

He also incorporates 2 additional specialty coverages as well. But for today, we're just going to focus on the 3 main coverages he uses which are...

  • Black (Switch)
  • Ice
  • Drop

Coach LoGalbo breaks down each of these three ball screen coverages within a 2v2 drill and also the shell drill.

At the beginning of the season, they'll cover each coverage two to three times a week.

Then during the season, they will sprinkle it in once a week to reinforce it.

Ball Screen Defensive Coverage #1 - Black (Switch)

ball screen diagram 1
  • This drill is run with four players in a 2-on-2 situation.
  • A ball screen is set.
  • The defender guarding the ball goes under the screener. This prevents the screener from rolling.
ball screen diagram 2
  • The two defenders touch hands. This is so the offense can't split the D.
  • Once the ball handler extends off the screen, it is an active switch.
  • The on-ball defender maintains their angles to force outer thirds.
  • The goal is to keep the ball on this side of the court with the switch.

Coaching Tips

  1. The players must be quick on their switch, so they can be in a position to chest and contest the offensive player away from the middle of the court.
  2. Run through the drill twice with both offensive players setting the ball screen. Rotate after each offensive player plays both positions.
  3. Make sure you change the angles. Certain coverages are for only certain spots on the floor. Some are for every spot on the floor.
  4. When you are in a 5-on-5 situation and you have a guard on a big on switch, you could also teach a triple switch or a scram switch on the baseline.

Ball Screen Defensive Coverage #2 - Ice

This is great to use against a side pick and roll. Immediately defenders should be calling, "Ice" to make sure everyone is on the same page when they have identified the pick and roll is coming.

ball screen diagram 3
  • The on-ball defender doesn't let the ball handler use the screen when icing.
  • The off-ball defender drops to take away the drive.
  • This forces the ball handler to the outer third.
  • Once the on-ball defender recovers, the off-ball defender recovers as well.

Coaching Tips

  1. Let all players practice all positions. You don't want to pigeonhole any of your players. You want the bigs to do what the guards do and the guards do what the bigs do. It helps the player conceptualize it, and it also gets the players a lot of reps.
  2. Run through this drill twice for each set of players before switching players.

Ball Screen Defensive Coverage #3 - Drop

This coverage is only used on middle-of-the-floor ball screens. Because if you want the offense in the outer thirds, many teams try to run ball screens in the middle of the court against you.

ball screen diagram 4
  • The drill begins with Player 2 passing and chasing. Player 2 follows the ball and sets the screen.
  • On-ball defender goes over top of the screen.
  • Off-ball defender makes sure the ball stays out of the paint until the on-ball defender can recover.
  • Once the on-ball defender recovers, the off-ball defender finds their player again.

If you'd like to learn more, you can take a look at Nick LoGalbo's Outer Third Defense.


What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...




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