Reading the pick and roll may look like an art, with the array of beautiful passes and dribble moves guys masters like Steve Nash and Chris Paul use; but in reality, it’s more like a science or math. Each time you run the pick and roll the defense has to decide what they are willing to give up: the roll man, the three point shot, or penetration.

It’s simply a matter of recognizing which coverage they have gone with, and reacting accordingly. If they go under the screen with no hedge, the ball handler should take the open three point shot. If they fight over the screen with no hedge, then penetration is the answer. And if they bring the strong hedge or double team the ball handler, than the ball needs to go to the roll man.

Pick and Roll Series

Dribbling Drills
Pick and Roll Series

I like to use this pick and roll series to help my ballhandlers react instinctively to whichever coverage they see, and exploit to the fullest.

You’ll need three coaches on the floor, and your players all lined up at halfcourt. Put once coach where the foul lane extended would mee the three point line, and one where the foul line extended meets the three point line. Your third coach will be in the paint, underneath the basket.

Now your players will all have a ball, and pass to the coach at the top of the key. They’ll then sprint to the wing, and v-cut down to the paint, and catch a pass from the coach on the wing. The coach already at the wing will act as a defender, with the other coach setting a screen on him. Now the defender will make on of two decisions: either fight over the top of the screen, or slide underneath. The ballhandler will take what the defense gives them and execute.

When the defender fights over the screen giving up the penetration is the only time the third coach will come into play. He will either step up or stay down low, and the ball handler will either take the pull up elbow jumpshot, or make a dribble move and drive strong to the hole. This is to simulate the help defender leaving either the weak side wing or post to stop the ball handler.

There you have it! And if you’re looking for more great drills, check out this other great post on pick and roll coverages!