Doorstep Drill shuts down ball screens From Brian Kissinger, East Valley High School, Spokane Valley, Washington

When discussing the various ways to defend ball screens, legendary coach Chuck Daly famously said, “None of them work.” If Daly was correct, switching ball screens may be the lesser of all the unworkable evils.

doorstep drill diagram 1
Diagram 1

The Doorstep Drill is an efficient way to teach the techniques involved with switching on ball screens. It can be run 5-on-5 or 3-on-3.

DIAGRAM 1: This is the initial set up for the 5-on-5 variation. It’s shown with the defenders playing their respective assignments.


doorstep drill diagram 2
Diagram 2

DIAGRAM 2: 1 passes to 2 and follows the pass to set a ball screen on X2. X1 calls out the screen and “touches” the screen to be in a good position to switch if 1 slips the screen. “Call it, touch it, switch it” is a phrase that we repeat often at this phase.


doorstep drill diagram 3
Diagram 3

DIAGRAM 3: On the screen call, X2 “hugs up” on 2. This forces 2 to use the ball screen and prevents them from refusing the screen.


doorstep drill diagram 4
Diagram 4

DIAGRAM 4: X2 chases 2 over the screen and “wraps up” 1 as 1 rolls to the basket. Wrapping up involves the defender putting their body between the ball and the rolling player, with the arm closest to the ball raised to discourage a pass.

   » ALSO SEE: Drilling players to perfect their man defense

As 2 dribbles off 1’s screen, X1 is positioned to immediately meet 2 in a good defensive stance as close to the screener as possible to prevent 2 from splitting the screen while discouraging the pocket pass. X1 must not allow 2 to turn the corner into the paint. We call X1’s position being “at the doorstep,” because we want X1 to have the mindset that they are protecting their home from an intruder.


doorstep drill diagram 5
Diagram 5

DIAGRAM 5: As X1 “levels off” 2, X1 knows they have gap help from X3 because of our pack-line principles. As X2 wraps up 1, they know they have at least momentary help from X5. That includes X5 possibly bumping 1 and recovering to 5 as 5 fills up to the wing.


doorstep drill diagram 6
Diagram 6

DIAGRAM 6: For the purposes of the drill, 2 picks up the dribble and passes to 3. X3 closes out 3, and the drill continues with 2 screening X3. X2 is again the doorstep player, a role that will be repeated two more times as the ball is reversed. Once X2 has been at the doorstep four times, another defensive player takes X2’s place. In the 3-on-3 variation of the drill, X2 would only be at the doorstep twice.

Offensive fundamentals should be reinforced during the Doorstep Drill. Offensive players must sweep the ball into triple-threat position on every catch and set strong ball screens, meaning a two-foot stop with proper hand position. They also must roll to the basket, throwing open the top shoulder while giving a target hand and finishing the cut. The player receiving the screen needs to come off of it tight, with eyes up on the dribble.

   » MORE: Check out the Winning Hoops drills library




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