Basketball Offense: 6 Ways To Attack A Switching Defense + A Quick Hitter

Editor's Note:

Hey, it's Mark Brase here...

Over the past several years, there has been a man to man defensive trend that has been occurring with more frequency. More and more teams are trying to switch all offensive screening actions or exchanges.

Today we are excited to bring you 6 offensive strategies to attack a switching defense, as well as 1 Quick Hitter that has been extremely effective against switching defenses.

Coach Ryan Schultz from Cedar Falls High School in Iowa has built his boys' basketball team into a perennial powerhouse. In the past 6 years, Cedar Falls HS has:

  • 5 Trips to the Final 4 (Large School Division)
  • 2 State Titles

Coach Schultz created a Hybrid Attack Offense that combines a Motion Offense and a Dribble Drive Offense. Because of their success with this high octane offense, they have seen more and more teams try to switch all screens on them to combat this success. As a result, he has developed strategies to successfully attack the switching.

Coach Schultz has established himself as an elite level coach, and we are excited to share his insights with you today on this topic that Breakthrough Basketball receives LOTS of questions about. Below, he gives advice on how you can beat a switching defense.

Attacking A Switching Defense

By Coach Ryan Schultz

Like everything else, defenses change, adapt, and evolve.

Over the past few years we have seen some of that evolution. More and more defenses are trying to defend our Hybrid Attack Offense by switching all of our screens and exchanges.

Our team used to see switching actions occasionally. Now, however, we are seeing a higher frequency of teams that want to switch everything!

When we saw this trend beginning several years ago, our coaching staff started to break down film and look for ways that we could actually ATTACK these switches and turn the table on the defense.

We wanted to make teams PAY for switching screens against us.

We developed a philosophy and a style of play that flowed with what we were already doing offensively with our Hybrid Attack Offense. This offense is something I created by taking what I saw as the best of two worlds, a motion offense and a dribble drive offense, and meshed them into one seamless offense.

Any time your offense has success, teams begin finding different ways to try to stop you. We soon began facing more teams switching all of our screening actions. We needed to evolve offensively and find ways to attack switching defenses!

Why Do Teams Switch?

Teams switch screens for a number of reasons. Some of those include:

  • To take away good perimeter shooters
  • Force teams to play more one on one and less team basketball
  • Less movement and effort (don't have to fight through screens)
  • Take away a team's offensive strengths
  • Force teams to go to alternate offensive options
  • Blow up set plays and designated actions

Each team is unique in WHY they decide to switch everything.

The key is to find ways to attack the switch that do not take you completely out of your normal offensive flow.

Advantage Offense

Switching defensively is supposed to be an advantage for the defense. By being prepared for the switching defense and knowing EXACTLY how to attack a switching defense, we feel it now has become an advantage for our Hybrid Attack Offense!

Our goal was not to simply SURVIVE against teams that switched everything, but rather it was to THRIVE! We wanted to create looks that gave the ADVANTAGE TO US every time we came across teams using this tactic.

6 Strategies For Attacking Switching Defenses

Below there are 6 different strategies that I have found to be very effective against switching defenses.

1 - The Slip

Slip the screen, or as some coaches will call it "skip" the screen. The offensive player starts out like they are going to set a screen but instead, they Slip (or skip) the screen and head straight to the basket.

  • Screener (3) should go toward the defender (x2) they will be screening.

  • Before getting there, screener (3) should plant their foot that is furthest from the basket and make a hard basket cut.

This is an easy and VERY effective way of beating a switching defense.

Tip: Try to set the slip screen on the basket side of the player being screened. This will allow the player slipping to be one step closer to the basket and their defender will not be in a good defensive position.

Bonus Tip: Use the same tactic in flare situations. Begin to set a flare screen on the basket side of the defender and slip to the basket. This creates a great angle to catch and finish or make a dump pass as help comes. This is also fantastic to build into your zone attack!

2 - Slip & Seal

This is the same idea as the Slip.

In this case, instead of taking advantage of catching defenders off guard and using a quick basket cut, you are going to take advantage of the "switcher" being out of position.

  • Screener (4) goes toward defender (x2) as if to set a screen.

  • Instead of a basket cut, screener pivots and puts their body into the defender, sealing the defender behind them..

Oftentimes this works best if the player slipping is a post or has a size advantage on the player they are sealing.

Tip: Again, try to set the screen on the basket side of the player being screened. This will create a better angle to seal.

3 - Invert

To Invert your offense, simply have any post who plays on the interior switch with a guard on the perimeter.

  • Ideally you would take your post (5-man) and start them out on the perimeter and then start a guard (2), who has a smaller defender on them, in the post.

  • Start the offense with your post player, who is now on the perimeter, setting a screen for the guard. Set this screen as close to the basket as possible.

The post player can now simply seal the defender (x2) as they switch and should have a mismatch underneath the hoop.

You now have two GREAT advantages!

  • You have a post player near the hoop with a smaller defender.
  • And you have a shooter with good handles on the perimeter with a defender who likely can't guard them.

Tip: You can use this against any defender. It could be the smallest or the weakest or the worst post defender. Your options are limitless!

4 - Ball Screen

Setting a ball screen is also a great way to get ANY match-up that you want. Imagine this, you can put any defender on any of your offensive players, at any time.

Maybe you want to put the worst on-ball defender on your best driver and scorer.

  • Simply have your player that currently has the worst defender guarding them (4) go set a ball screen (x3).

  • After the ball screen, simply have the screener sprint away and create space for your best driver (3) to attack the basket.
  • The 3-man should have a big advantage and be able to attack the hoop and score.

    And if the 3-man can't score in this situation, it likely means the defense has had to provide A LOT of help, meaning someone else will be WIDE OPEN!

Tip: Run some backside action such as a double stagger or you could even have the 5-man step up and set a back screen for a guard. This will provide some "window dressing" for your real action, which is your 3-man attacking their worst defender.

5 - Ball Screen With Skip & Seal

If you want to take advantage of a size mismatch on a ball screen, this strategy can be very effective.

Step 1

  • Run this action from any "4 out-1 in" look, or even a "5 out" look.

  • Start by setting a big/little ball screen (5 sets screen on x1).

  • This will create a big- on-little mismatch.

Step 2

  • After the ball screen, immediately roll your big into the post toward the ball while maintaining wide and high spacing on the perimeter.

  • Many teams that switch and get caught in this situation will work to front the post since they have a smaller defender on the post. They will also use weak side help to prevent the post entry.

  • When this happens, lift the weak side guard (2) that the help defender (x2) is covering. Skip the ball to that guard. This can be done by a pass to the wing (3) and then a skip. Or the point guard (1) can come off the screen and skip back to the opposite side of the court.

Step 3

  • The post now has a GREAT seal opportunity with a smaller defender guarding and a long closeout occurring on the wing!

  • If the weak side defender stays in to help on the post, or is late, a wide open shot is available.

  • If they close out (as normally happens), you should be able to get the ball deep in a great position to your post player (who is guarded by a smaller defender) for a layup.

6 - Quick Hitters

While the Hybrid Attack Offense is effective because it is not patterned, not predictable, and not scoutable. Mixing in quick hitters against switching teams can be a very effective strategy as well.


You can design quick hitters to specifically attack a switching defense. And since you already know what the defense will be doing against your quick hitter, you can prepare for their defensive strategy and make them pay for switching. In other words, you are countering what the defense is doing.

Below is one of my favorite quick hitters that we run against switching defenses.

Quick Hitter v Switching Defense

2-3 Hi Seal Back

Here is a great quick hitter that starts from a 2-3 Hi Set. It looks simple, which it is - the key is in the execution.

  • Place your best shooting guard (2) on the same side of the court as the PG.

  • The ball is reversed QUICKLY to the 3-man.

  • While this is happening, the 1-man gets a back screen from the 5-man.

  • The 1-man MUST SPRINT TO THE CORNER and go on the top side of the screen. It is key that they sell the idea of them getting a shot in the corner.

  • The 2-man lifts to bring their defender away from the paint. After setting the back screen, the 5-man seals the x1 defender as they roll back to the basket.
  • Notice the 5-man should be wide open in the middle of the paint and the closest defender will be x1 (likely a smaller guard)!
  • Again, this is a SIMPLE quick hitter, but it will not be effective unless all of the little teaching points are executed correctly.

    Be Prepared

    Over the years as a coach, I've found the more variables my teams can be prepared for, the more success they tend to have. Players can't be expected to be successful against defenses they haven't been prepared to beat.

    Most teams today will see some defenses that switch everything. Being prepared to attack switching defenses is crucial to success when you run up against these teams.

    Hopefully one or more of the strategies above will help you have success against those defenses!

    Good Luck!

    - Coach Ryan Schultz

    Hybrid Attack Offense - Learn More

    If you'd like to learn more, check out the following page where you can gain immediate access:

    The Hybrid Attack Offense - Combining the Best Elements of Motion Offense & Dribble Drive

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


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