To teach players how to deal with downscreens and backscreens in close quarters.


Have a player start on each elbow and each block. Defender’s will match up accordingly. One player at the top of the arc will start with the ball.

Players working on screen defense out of the tight shell set.


  • The drill will begin with the ball handler slapping the ball.
  • The player on the elbow will go to set a downscreen for their teammate on the same block.
  • The screener’s defender will leave enough space for their teammate to slip around the screen and stay with their man.
  • The defense will deny initially before allowing the pass to go through so that the drill can continue.
  • After making the pass, they will set a downscreen for their teammate on the block, repeating the action we just saw on the opposite side.
  • Repeat, mixing in downscreens and backscreens as well.

Coaching Tips

  • These are the same concepts we were using in the normal shell defense, just tight. This will exacerbate the need for early communication as well as add a more physical element to the drill, as players will have to fight through screens instead of just being able to run around them.
  • Emphasize using bodies effectively to navigate through screens, instructing players to use their chest and shoulders for controlled contact with the screener, while staying low for balance and leverage.
  • Teach players to anticipate screens using visual cues, including watching the screener’s hips and shoulders, and the ball handler’s eyes and movements.
  • Instruct on different switching techniques when dealing with tight screens, such as quick communication and immediate physical positioning to prevent open shots.

For Younger Athletes:

  • Focus on the fundamentals of defending screens, such as staying close to their man and not getting caught on the screen.
  • Include drills focusing on communication, helping young players learn to talk on the court, which is crucial for effective team defense.
  • Work on footwork drills that help navigate screens without losing their defensive position, like side shuffling and quick directional changes.

For Older Athletes:

  • Challenge with drills requiring navigation through multiple screens in succession, enhancing their ability to react quickly in game situations.
  • Teach to read offensive plays and anticipate where screens will be set for advanced defensive positioning.
  • Incorporate endurance training into the drill, ensuring older players have the stamina to fight through screens consistently throughout the game.