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Defending Sideline Pick & Rolls

Today I am going to discuss what I think is one of the most effective technique to defend sideline pick & rolls. A sideline (or side) pick & roll is anything set from around the free-throw line extended area or below. If you refer back my previous post “Defending Middle Pick & Rolls”, all of those techniques (except “Weak”) are just as effective on the side as well. However, consider throwing this new technique below into the mix.

When defending pick & rolls, most coaches have one goal, prevent the ball handler from turning the corner and getting into the lane. However, too often the ball gets into the lane; resulting in giving up easy points and a coach throwing a tirade on the sideline. Is it really the players’ fault or does it stem from a poor game-plan?

Let me enlighten you on a concept the NBA has been using for years, “Ice” (or “Blue”). If you have ever been fortunate enough to attend an NBA game and sit close enough to hear the players communicating on the floor, you probably heard this term used while defending particular pick & roll situations on the side. There are numerous reasons why some teams prefer to “Ice” and others do not, it all really depends on the coaches’ defensive philosophy. However, my personal reasons why/when you should “Ice” are as follows:

  • Guards today are quicker and craftier than ever, force them into one direction.
  • The “Step-Up” screen; bigs in the NBA are some of the best in the world at quickly changing the angle of their screens, “Icing” helps to prevent the defense from being beat off the dribble when this occurs.
  • Against any Shake Pick & Roll. Shake is a common term the NBA uses for side pick & rolls that are set while an offensive player is occupying the ball side corner and a big is lifted. Thus giving you one extra defender to assist the big.

In terms of teaching the technique, “Icing” is somewhat similar to a concept I discussed in my last post, “Weak”.  Note: you can use any term/color you would like to call out this defense. As the offense is sprinting into the pick and your big is yelling “Ice, Ice, Ice!”, the guard will adjust his stance to be on the top hip (closest to half-court), forcing the ball toward the baseline. While adjusting the stance, it is essential the guard maintains slight contact in order take away downhill momentum. The bigs’ job is to drop to the wing area and contain the ball until the guard recovers. If the guard gets hung up too long and the ball handler starts attacking the big, make sure your other three defenders are in the right positions ready to help and rotate.



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