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Dear High Ball Screen, Let’s Just Be Friends

Letter to the High Ball Screen

Dear High Ball Screen,

This is difficult for me to say (well, write). I just want to be friends.

I know. I know. We’ve had some great times. And, I’m sure there will be more to come, but right now, I just need some… space.

You see, we’ve had this love affair for a long time. Heck, you were probably the first screen I was introduced to as a young basketball player. I appreciate everything you’ve done for me. I’ll always cherish our memories.

Letter to the High Ball Screen

But, I recently got to thinking. Are we as compatible as I think we are? Do I love you because my previous coaches told me to? Are you just a Sacred Zombie Cow? Or, do we really fit?

I needed to know (for both our sakes) so I decided to test it out on the biggest stage I could find: the NCAA National Championship game – theoretically the two best non-professional basketball teams in the world. It would be perfect. I would chart all the amazing impact you made in that game and fall in love with you all over again. You know, just like when we were younger.

Well, that’s what I thought would happen.

Instead, here’s how that chart turned out:

  • Total number of High Ball Screens (HBS) attempted: 39
  • Total number of direct baskets: 4
  • Total number of indirect baskets: 2
  • Total number of non-related baskets on a HBS possession: 2

I know that’s hard to swallow so let me clarify what I mean.

A direct basket is a score by either the ball handler receiving the screen or the screener (rolling, popping, etc.) after setting the screen.

An indirect basket is a score by any player as a result of the screen, but not directly related to it. This happens when the screen creates turmoil in the defense and a score results. Or, if the ball handler uses the screen, then pitches for a shot. Or, even if the screener gets the pass and finds an open shooter once help arrives.

Non-related baskets are those scores on any possession where a High Ball Screen was used, but had nothing to do with the score. For example, a High Ball Screen is set, the defense stops it, the offense resets (calls a play, runs a motion, etc), and scores. That basket had nothing to do with the High Ball Screen except that it occurred on the same possession.

You see, I didn’t want to believe it either. But, the numbers don’t lie (at least in this one admittedly small sample).

You were only responsible for 6 baskets that entire game.

You were only successful (directly and indirectly) 15% of the time you were used.

Let’s just say I’m rethinking our relationship. Sure, I still want you around to shake things up every once in a while. You’re great at that! Yeah, I’d love to see you in late shot clock situations or as part of a Quick Hitter. But, as a significant part of my offense… I just don’t think so anymore.

So, listen High Ball Screen… let’s just be friends.


PS: Even though we’re not as intimate anymore doesn’t mean that I don’t want to spend time with your siblings. The Pin Screen, the back screen, post blocking, and the others… those are some screens I could see myself getting to know on a deeper level. Thanks for understanding.


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about rick torbett

Rick Torbett has taught thousands of coaches to win more games through his innovative approach to the game. He has created powerful training for coaches at any level so they can coach their best and win more games.

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Read & React 5-Player Coordination Drills

Enter your email address to get an inside look at teaching the Read & React Offense with the drills in this free video.