At all levels, the pick and roll is a great way to score, creating confusion for the defense as well as putting your ballhandler in space, and your big man on a cut to the rim.

Therefore, it is critical to practice defending the pick and roll in your practice. Personnel and game situations will call for different defences, but these three schemes will shut down the pick and roll in any situation. They are; going under the pick and roll, going over the pick and roll, and switching.


Pick Defense
Going Over The Pick and Roll

When the pick is set, have the man defending the picker show hard on the high side, forcing the ballhandler to go up away from the basket, and then sprinting back to cover the picker rolling to the basket.

The man defending the ballhandler will go up over the pick, but under his teammate, and cut off the ballhandler.

If defending an especially good roll man, or if your just have trouble covering the roll in general, you can have one of your weak side defenders hedge, or even switch right over to the roll man, and have the original defender take his man.


Trap Pick and Roll D

Trapping the Pick and Roll

Another very effective way to defend the pick and roll is to trap the ball. Your defenders should be locked at the ankles, leaving no space for the ballhandler to attempt to split them.

Emphasize that they use the sideline as their third defender in creating pressure. Your defenders off ball must be in deep help, leaving the man two passes away open, and sliding towards the two men within one pass.

If your trap is broken, make sure to have your trap man sprint hard back in recovery on defense.


Switching the Pick and Roll

In most situations, the first two mentioned schemes are my preferred choices, as I tend to employ a more aggressive defense than some coaches, but in some situations – end of the game, end of the shot clock, anywhere we want to avoid a potential foul or easy look – I will tell my players to switch.

This is also very effective at the lower levels when the mismatch opportunities aren’t as big, or if you just have a team full of very versatile defenders.

Coaching Keys


  • Talking. All players need to be vocal on the floor, from calling the screen coming, letting your teammates know your though the pick, and especially when your switching.
  • Emphasizing these schemes in a continuous 4 on 4 pick and roll drill is a great competitive way to instill these philosophies in your team.


I’m not big on going under the pick and roll but maybe you could convince me otherwise! Or maybe there’s another part of the game your having a tough time defending? Give me some feedback and I’ll be sure answer!