How do you guard ball screens? Do you have a set way to guard all ball screens regardless of personnel and location? Do you change how you play ball screens dependent upon where the screen is set? Do you scout opponents and play ball screens differently for different players?
Whatever your defensive philosophy, here are some thoughts to playing ball screens.
1. Hedge high and go under - Usually utilized for great penetrators that don't shoot the ball extremely well. Pluses - Keeps the ball out of the key. Minuses - Can give up open look jumpers.
2. Hedge high and go over the top - This is probably the scariest way to play a ball screen. It almost forces the rest of your defense to switch. Pluses - I honestly can't think of any. Minuses - Puts tremendous amount of pressure on your helpside defenders, gives up slip to the basket, easier to split the defenders.
3. Drop off the screener and go over the top - Usually for a great shooter coming off. Pluses - Shouldn't give up open jumper, help is built in if the on ball defender gets caught on the screen. Minuses - Easy reversal pass, gives up jumper to the screener on a pop.
4. Drop off the screener and go under - Usually for a total penetrator. Pluses - Can beat penetrators to the spot, help built in with the screeners defender. Minuses - If the screeners defender doesn't drop far enough it could become a double ball screen, gives up open look for the screener on a pop.
5. Jam the screener and go under - Usually used for good penetrators and teams that like to slip or pop screeners. Pluses - Forces screen to be set higher up the floor than they want, prevents slips, easy to recover to pop. Minuses - Potential for a double ball screen, very little help.
6. Trap - Usually used for excellent all around players. Pluses - Very aggressive and maintains pressure, forces quick decisions for the ball handler. Minuses - Risky if the defenders are split, MUST have great rotations by the other 3 players.
7. Jump high on the ball handler and low on the screener - Usually used on the outer third of the floor for penetration middle. This is where the ball defender jumps all the way on the high leg forcing the dribbler baseline and the screeners defender drop below the ball handler. Pluses - Plays to most man-to-man principles of forcing baseline/sideline, unorthodox and can cause confusion. Minuses - Gives up pop to the screener, can create mismatches is big on little screen.