Learning corner: the pick-and-roll

Published On February 16, 2013 | By Tyler Scionti

Q: How does a pick and roll work in basketball?

A: The “pick-and-roll” is one of the easiest offensive plays to execute in the game of basketball, yet one of the hardest plays to defend against.

The pick-and-roll is executed by two offensive players around one defensive player. For the purpose of the explanation let’s call the two offensive players player A and player B, while the defensive player can be player C.

Player A has the ball, and as player C attempts to get him one-on-one, player B acts as a “screen” by standing between A and C. Because player B is standing in player C’s way, player A can dribble up towards the basket, drawing player C to follow. Player B runs up to get open and receives a pass from player A and shoots.

As you can see by the instructional video above, the pick-and-roll is easy to execute and the more you dig deeper into the play you find numerous variations depending on the situation, but they all branch out from the simple play described above.

Whether you are a casual player in a rec league or a competitive athlete, the pick-and-roll is a fundamental and useful play for any offensive situation.

This post is a part of our Playbook feature where we will explain anything and everything about the world of sports to you. Feel free to ask us any question you may have about sports, how to play a sport, what a play is or anything else you can think of, and we’ll answer it for you in an easy-to-understand way. Everything is anonymous, so you don’t need to feel embarrassed by your question.

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About The Author

Hi I'm Tyler Scionti, I'm a member of the class of 2015 at the College of the Holy Cross where I study English and Economics. At school I cover a variety of sports while also writing a beat column on the Boston Red Sox.