Updated: Oct 10, 2022
Using Switching as a Weapon In the most recent Lockdown Podcast with Pistons Assistant Coach Brandon Bailey, he mentioned the importance of switching used as a weapon on defense instead of a passive coverage. Within this concept we went into detail about determining ideal matchups in scouting to prepare for the switch, using switching as your base system and most importantly being physical as opposed to passive. One of the main concepts he introduced was "steering" the screener.
Steering the Screener
We can argue that the game is becoming less physical due to officiating guidelines and initiatives, however, I would also argue we simply don't teach physicality as much as we used to. Steering the screener is one area we can reinsert some physicality to our defense.
The idea of steering is pretty straight-forward: the defender is jamming and redirecting the screener to a new spot. This can aid our defense in multiple ways: 1. we can push the screens higher than they are intended - allowing us to get under the screen during a switch more easily or can push it out of the danger zone allowing us to get under and keep our matchups. Not to mention the overall disruption to a play a poor screen can cause or the frustration of the offensive player.
You can see in this play, X1 puts two hands on the screener and disrupts the depth of screen the PG was intending. Instead of getting to the 3pt line and being able to slip, X1 steering caused a screen above the 3pt line allow X4 to better switch onto the slip.
Same type of action, which gets into the anticipation cues we also talked to Coach Bailey about - ball hits elbow, get to body of opposite elbow. Again however, you can see the physical steering impacting the play. O1 can't even get to the elbow properly to set the screen, allowing for a physical and easy switch by the defense.
This time the offense is trying to run a post split action. Bodying Up and Steering the screener and cutter however allow the action to be contained. Imagine if no physicality was used in defending this action, if instead the switching was passive and 'point switching' (take mine, I'll stay here). I think we all have the visual of the Warriors scoring against these teams with slips and pop backs all too often.
Steering is a critical aspect of successful switching defenses, and we didn't even demonstrate the power of steering an on-ball screen. But as the offensive side of the floor has evolved to precise spacing and movement, our defenses ability to disrupt that spacing and alter the play can have huge impacts.
See you next time!