To teach players how to correctly deal with downscreens as a team defense.
Four players start on offense, with another four spread out on the baseline, and the last four waiting their turn in line. One coach will start under the hoop with a ball, and one will be at the top of the arc.
- Coach passes the ball to either guard.
- As soon as the ball leaves their hands, the guard on the opposite side of the court will sprint down to set a downscreen for the player in the corner.
- The player receiving the screen will sprint along the baseline, then plant and cut up court using the screen.
- The screener’s defender will drop back, protecting the hoop and allowing a gap so that their teammate can slip around the screen and stay with their defender as they cut to the top of the court.
- The screener’s defender will then follow their man out to the corner.
Walk players through the correct way to execute this, then up to 50%, 75%, and finally full speed. The great thing about the shell drill is that it is like a live game that allows the coach to step in and intercede whenever they see fit which makes it a fantastic drill for teaching concepts and positioning to players.
Coaching Tips for Younger Athletes:
- Encourage young athletes to recognize when a downscreen is being set and to decide quickly whether to chase the cutter or switch defenders. Drill them on making eye contact with their teammates when communicating a switch to avoid confusion.
- Teach the cutter to make a convincing fake before using the screen, which helps create separation from their defender. The fake can be towards the basket or the sideline before cutting over the screen.
- Highlight the importance of defensive balance to the screener’s defender. They must be ready to help on the cutter’s drive but also recover quickly to their original man to prevent an open shot or pass to the post.
Coaching Tips for Older Athletes:
- Focus on the screener’s technique, ensuring they set a legal, solid screen. The screener should have a wide base, stay stationary to avoid a moving screen call, and angle their screen to direct the cutter toward the scoring areas.
- Teach defenders how to disrupt the screen by getting their foot between the screener’s feet (‘splitting’ the screen) or by maintaining physical contact with the cutter to reduce the effectiveness of the screen.
- Encourage offensive players to read the defense before using the screen. If the defender is hedging or playing high, the player can slip to the basket instead of using the screen, exploiting the defense’s anticipation.