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The pick and roll is one of the most simple, yet deadliest plays in basketball and lacrosse.

How the Pick and Roll Applies Across Sports

The most basic, yet effective, play in all of basketball is the pick and roll. In its traditional form, a forward or center is called to set a high screen on the ball at the perimeter. The ball handler uses the screen as the player setting the pick rolls and makes a cut toward the basket.

Diagram A

This puts the defense in several predicaments. First, the on-ball defend (O1) has to decide how he or she will deal with the screen. Depending on the offensive player’s abilities, the defender should go over or under the screen, electing to go over if a deep shot is the top threat or going under if it’s the drive that has the defense worried. Plus, there is actually having to fight through the screen, which can be very difficult if set correctly.

There are several ways for O5 to deal with the situation. For example, you can hedge, trying to slow down the ball carrier enough so that he or she won’t be able to make a pass or get an open look. You can back off, focus on your man and let the on-ball defender deal with the player with the ball, or the two defenders can switch. Regardless of the route the defense chooses, the offense has put its opposition in a position to make split-second decisions, which is the beginning of a bucket for any offensive attack.

In lacrosse, the pick and roll can also generate space and lanes for the offense to work with. For as valuable as a pick and roll play can be to let the ball carrier or screen setter find an opportunity for a look at net, it can also open up green by forcing the defense to move and make quick decisions. This video provides a good example of how a pick and roll can create scoring chances.

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