Pick and Roll Basketball

What is Pick and Roll in Basketball

In basketball, the Pick and Roll is more than just a play. It is a dynamic strategy that has revolutionized the game. Picture this: the clock is ticking down, tension fills the air, and the crowd roars with anticipation. Suddenly, like a well-rehearsed dance, one player sets a screen to shield the ball handler from their defender while the other swiftly maneuvers around, ready to seize the opportunity.

This classic maneuver, the Pick and Roll, epitomizes teamwork, precision, and strategic brilliance on the court. It’s not just about creating space or finding an open shot; it’s about orchestrating a symphony of movement and skill to outwit the opposition. Join us as we delve into the intricacies of this fundamental basketball play, uncovering its secrets and celebrating its impact on the game we love.

The pick and roll is a play in basketball where one player sets a screen to block the defender of another player, allowing them to make a move toward the basket or pass the ball.

What does “Pick and Roll” mean in Basketball?

The “pick” is an offensive technique in which a player sets himself up as a wall against an opposing player without committing violations to create a clear lane for the ball handler. A pick is also known as a screen.

A “roll” refers to an offensive player who moves toward the hoop or the ball after setting a screen/picks to generate a scoring opportunity or drive opponents away.

How does Pick and Roll work?

The pick-and-roll trick in basketball needs two players – the ball handler and the screener. The ball handler dribbles toward the defender, and the screener sets a screen by standing like a wall to block the defender’s path.

Once the screen is set, the basketball handler has two options, such as:

He can drive to the basket or shoot a vertical jump if the defender stays with the screener. If the defender follows the ball handler, he can pass the ball to the screener, who can then roll to the basket for an easy layup or dunk.

How to Perform the Exact Pick and Roll?

To run the perfect pick-and-roll in basketball, follow these steps:

Communication: Clear communication between the ball handler and the screener is key. Use verbal cues or hand signals to indicate when and where the screen will be set.

Timing: Time the pick correctly. The screener should set the screen just as the ball handler approaches, ensuring maximum effectiveness.

Positioning: The screener should establish a solid position to set the screen, making it difficult for the defender to get around.

Setting the Screen: The screener should set a firm screen, making contact with the defender to create separation for the ball handler.

Read the Defense: The ball handler needs to read the defense’s reaction to the screen. If the defender goes under the screen, the ball handler can take an outside shot. If the defender goes over the screen, the ball handler can drive to the basket. If the defense switches, look for mismatches.

Rolling: After setting the screen, the screener should roll hard to the basket. This puts pressure on the defense and creates opportunities for scoring or passing.

Decision Making: The ball handler must make quick decisions based on the defense’s reactions. They can drive to the basket, pull up for a shot, or pass to the rolling screener or an open teammate.

Finishing: If the ball handler drives to the basket, they should look to finish strong at the rim or draw defenders and kick out to an open teammate for a shot.

Practice: Repetition and practice are essential to perfecting the pick and roll. Work on timing, positioning, and decision-making in practice sessions.

By following these steps and practicing regularly, teams can execute the pick and roll effectively, creating scoring opportunities and putting pressure on the defense.

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Defensive Strategies to stop the Pick and Roll

Defending the pick and roll can be difficult, but there are methods for doing so. Switching defenders is the most popular defensive method. If the defender shifts to the screener, the ball handler can leverage the mismatch by driving to the basket or shooting an open jump shot. Conversely, if the defender sticks with the ball handler, the screener can roll to the hoop for an easy layup or slam.

Hedging the screen is another protective approach. Before applying the hedging technique, each defending team member should know their responsibilities and basics to advance basketball knowledge. This includes the screener’s defender moving out and blocking the ball handler’s route, allowing the ball handler’s defender to recover.

History of the Pick and Roll

Pick and Roll has been a part of basketball for almost as long as the sport. It isn’t easy to highlight who was the founder of this technique. Some say that Homan and Sedran played this technique in early professional basketball games in 1910.

Pick and roll became more prevalent in the NBA during the 1960s and 1990s, when teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and the Chicago Bulls used it effectively. Today, every team in the NBA uses this trick, which is a critical component of modern basketball.

Why is Pick and Pop Important?

The pick and roll is crucial in basketball for its ability to break down defenses and create scoring opportunities. This fundamental play relies on teamwork, timing, and communication between players, serving as a cornerstone of offensive strategies at all levels of the game.

By utilizing a pick to free up the ball handler and force defensive rotations, teams can exploit mismatches, penetrate the defense, and find open shooters. Additionally, the pick and roll enhances floor spacing, as defenders must respect the threat of both the ball handler’s drive and the rolling player’s potential to finish at the rim or pop out for a jump shot.

Its versatility and effectiveness make the pick and roll an indispensable tool in the arsenal of any successful basketball team, showcasing the beauty of collaboration and strategic ingenuity on the court.

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What is “Pick and Pop” in basketball?

“Pick and pop” is a basketball strategy similar to the pick and roll, but with a slight variation in execution. In a pick-and-pop play:

Setting the Pick: One player sets a screen (pick) to impede the defender of the player with the ball, just like in the pick and roll.

Popping: Instead of rolling towards the basket after setting the screen, the player who sets the pick (the screener) “pops” away from the defender, usually to an open spot on the court, such as the three-point line or mid-range area.

Scoring Opportunity: The player with the ball can then pass to the popping player, who is now in a prime position to take an open shot. This player is often a good shooter, making the pick and pop an effective strategy to stretch the defense and create scoring opportunities from the perimeter.

The pick and pop is especially effective when the popping player has a reliable outside shot, as it forces the defender to choose between guarding the ball handler or closing out on the popping player, often leading to defensive mismatches and open shots.


What is a “pick” in basketball?

A pick is a screen used by an offensive player to block the defensive player and create space for the ball-handler to drive or shoot in basketball.

What is a “roll” in basketball?

In basketball, the “roll” is when the screener moves toward the basket after setting a pick, providing another scoring option for the ball handler.

What is the difference between a pick and a screen in basketball?

In basketball, “pick” and “screen” are sometimes distinguished by the recipient of the block, but there is no strict rule, and the terms are often used interchangeably.

Who invented the pick-and-roll in basketball?

The pick-and-roll, a widely recognized and effective play in basketball, likely emerged in the 1920s in the eastern United States. Nat Holman and Barney Sedran, prominent figures in basketball history, are often credited with its creation in the mid-1910s.


The pick-and-roll: a versatile offensive tactic in basketball where a player sets a screen for the ball handler, who then dribbles towards it while the screener rolls to the basket. It offers flexibility and can be executed in different ways. Mastering the pick-and-roll technique, defending against it, and exploring variations are key. Also, the importance of the pick-and-roll in modern basketball cannot be overlooked. By incorporating it into your team’s offensive playbook, you can create scoring opportunities and increase your chances of success. Additionally, let’s discuss the organic nature of the over-and-back rule in basketball.

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