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How to Handle Traps on Ball Screens

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What should the offense do when the defense "shows big or traps" the on ball screen?

That is not as simple as it might seem. It depends on a lot of things, where the screen is being set, who sets it, which way the ball is going. On the whole, as you go up in levels, screens become more consistent. They are almost always big on small and rarely are they set to the baseline. I will go on those assumptions.

I always teach that the 2 most important things when coming off a screen are:
  1. Look to score
  2. Create separation off the screen.
I try to teach the ballhandler to try and create as much distance off the screen as possible with their first dribble. What we try to do is "drag the postman." In other words, by creating separation off the screen with the first dribble, we try to force the postman, who is hedging, to step away from the screener to stop the ball. The further we can drag him, the more chance you have in creating a mis-match by forcing a switch. If they are going to hedge and recover, it makes it difficult to recover because of the distance that needs to be covered for an effective recovery.

In playing against a hard hedge or a trap, I teach the ballhandler to attack the big. If your ballhandler can't beat the big out on the perimeter, it doesn't matter what you do. By attacking the big and creating space off the screen, you will either make it too hard to screen, force a switch or create enough room between the two players trying to trap to effectively split them. It all starts with your ballhandler attacking the big and getting him off the screen.

If you have a player that can't handle the ball and "beat" the bigs, then don't set ball screens for that player. When needed, you can implement this as a "rule" for your motion offense. Be sure to practice this rule ahead of time. This isn't something you want to introduce for the first time during a game.





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