Terminology – Actions/Plays
These pages are intended to be a library of basketball terminology. Many of these terms I have created on my own, and the majority I have taken from other coaches and clinics. I understand that this list may differ from what other coaches use, but it is meant to be a starting point for discussing terminology. If you have any additions to this list, please contact me.
More diagrams coming soon!
Click the title for plays including the action/play!
A back cut is any cut behind the defense towards the rim.
Bulldog is when a a ball screen and cross screen are being set simultaneously.
Bump is when a cutter rejects a screen sending the screener on the cut instead (5 is bumped to the post by 2).
Carolina, from the Roy Williams secondary, is a back screen set from a
guard on the trailing post player.
Celtic is a UCLA screen directly into a side ball screen.
Chicago (Pin Down DHO)
Chicago, for the Chicago Bulls, is a down screen followed by a dribble
Chin is a back screen in the slot directly into a flare screen for the
other slot player.
Chop is a slash or open cut into the lane directly behind a pick and
Clear is when a player moves out of any area to create space for the
A cross screen is any screen set across the floor or lane.
Cyclone, used by Steve Prohm at Iowa State, is a cross screen directly
into a zipper screen. Prohm liked to use this action with Georges Niang.
A dribble handoff is when a player dribbles towards a teammate and gives him the ball with a handoff.
Diamond is a formation with two players at the elbow, one at the top of
the key, and one under the rim.
A dive is a cut from the high post to the low post.
A double drag is when two trailing players set a ball screen.
A double screen is when two players are shoulder to shoulder and setting
A down screen is any screen set towards the baseline. This can be from
the slot to the wing or from the wing to the block.
A drag screen is set with a trailing player moving right into a ball
1 dribbles towards the right wing pushing 2 away from the ball.
The guard moves in towards the high post then drifts back out to the
perimeter to get the ball.
A duck-in is when a post player looks to gain position in the low post
by taking the defenders legs out with a low post up. This often works
best when the post defender is in a help position and not ready for
To lift, or elevate, is to move up from a position on the floor to
maintain spacing. 5 lifts up from the block to the slot. 2 lifts up from
In an elevator screen, the cutter moves through the screeners who close
the screen once he has run through.
A fade is when a player turns down a screen and instead fades away from
A fill cut is when players move into a vacant spot in the offense to
maintain movement and spacing.
Flare (Fan) Screen
2 flares to the wing off of the flare screen from 3.
Flash is when a player moves to an open spot in the defense, often
against zone defenses.
A flat ball screen is set on the perimeter with the screener’s back to
Flex is a combination cross screen/down screen. The cross screen is
typically set at the block for a player to cut from the corner to the
ball side low post.
Flip is when a cutter flips around to become the screener.
Flip Ball Screen
A flip ball screen is when the screener switches the direction of his
Flood is when two or more players quickly move to one side of the floor
creating an overload.
Floppy (Single Double)
Floppy is when a shooter (2) has the option to cut off of a single
screen or staggered screen.
In gaggle, the 1st screener in the staggered screen cuts to the opposite
In gaggle post, the 1st screener in the stagger cuts to the opposite
block for a post up.
A hammer screen is when a player sets a back screen for another player
to cut to the corner for a shot.
Hawk, from the Atlanta Hawks, is a UCLA cut in transition for the
trailing 4 man.
Hi/Lo is an action involving the high and low posts. Typically, the low
post player makes a reverse seal for the hi/lo pass.
Hook is when a player curls a down screen and the screener turns around
to set a ball screen.
Hook double is when a player curls a down screen and the screener turns
around to set a ball screen with an additional player.
Hoosier is a ball screen directly into a down screen (instead of the
Iso, or isolation, is when the ballhandler has a side of the floor to
create a scoring opportunity.
Jayhawk, named for Bill Self’s play call when Mario Chalmers hit the
3-point shot against Memphis in 2008, is a quick handoff or pitch pass
Jazz (Utah PTP)
Jazz is a combination action taken from the Utah Jazz. It is a UCLA
screen into a pick-the-picker action with the UCLA cutter.
A lob is any pass thrown towards the rim for the player to catch in the
air for a layup or dunk.
Lobo is a back screen set in the slot directly into a slot ball screen.
The logo pick and roll is set at the NBA logo in the short corner/mid
Loop (Triple Stagger)
Loop is a triple staggered screen along the baseline with the guard
cutting from one wing to the other.
Miami is a combination action where the ball is entered to the high
post, a shuffle screen is set by the point guard, and the shuffle
screener then gets a dribble handoff from the high post player.
Moon is a cut from the middle of the floor to the wing off of a
Orlando (DHO Pin Down)
Orlando, taken from the Orlando Magic, is a dribble handoff followed by
a pin down.
Phoenix is a combination shuffle-flare-DHO action all dictated by the
Pick & Pop
1 dribbles towards the middle as 5 pops out for a shot.
Pick & Roll
1 dribbles towards the middle as 5 rolls to the rim.
The pinch post is the weak side elbow when there is no other players on
that side of the floor.
Pistol is when the point guard throw to a player on the wing and cuts
around him to get a handoff to drive to the rim at full speed.
A Piston, or Iverson, cut is when a player cuts from one wing to the
other off of the two players at the high post.
A pitch is when a dribble pivots and passes back to a player lifting up
from the corner for a shot.
Point refers to the initial action of the “point series” used in the
Princeton offense. A down screen is set by the trailing 4 for the low
post player who flashes to the opposite elbow.
Once the ball is in the post, it is important to have a post cutting
strategy to maintain movement in your offense.
Power is a post-post cross screen in the lane.
In power ram, a post-post cross screen is set with the cutter sprinting
directly into a ball screen.
A ram action is when a player sprints directly into a ball screen after
cutting off of a screen from another player.
In ram double, the down screener turns to set a ball screen with the
A re-screen action is simply any screen that is repeated by the same two
A reverse seal is when a post player holds his defender on his outside
hip as the ball is thrown from the wing to the slot or top of the key.
On the pass, the post defender is out of position to defend a hi/lo or
Rip is a screen set across the lane for a player who just set a down
Rip is a screen set across the lane for a player who just set a down
screen. In rip double, two players set the rip screen.
Rocket is used to attack hard hedging ball screen defense. The opposite
slot player holds and gets a quick pass from the ballhandler once he
clears the screen. With x5 hedging, he cannot get back to 5 quick enough
as 4 passes to 5 for a layup.
In roll/replace, the ball screener rolls hard to the rim with the
opposite big replacing him on the perimeter.
Roll/Short Roll (Hoiberg Roll)
A roll/short roll, or Hoiberg roll (from Fred Hoiberg), is a counter to
the typical roll/replace action. The ball screener rolls hard into the
lane and the opposite big moves from one block to the other in a short roll.
A rub screen is a cut right in front of the ball with the ballhandler
attacking right behind the action.
Rub double is two shallow cuts in front of the ball with the ballhandler
penetrating directly behind the action.
Runners are often used to attack zone defenses or to create overloads. A
runner is any player running the baseline to the opposite wing or corner.
Scissor involves two players running around the high post looking for a
A shallow cut is made in front of the ball to a new position next to the
Short Roll (Draymond)
A short roll, used a lot by Draymond Green, is a roll into the high post
instead of all the way to the rim.
Often used in the swing offense, very popular in Wisconsin, a
shuffle/badger action involves a back screen from the block to the wing
with the cutter moving into the lane to post up.
A slash, or open cut, is from the opposite wing into the lane (in front
of the help defender).
Slice is a cut from the opposite corner through the lane (sometimes off
of a screen) to the top of the key.
Slide is a high pick and roll slip action, typically used in a
guard/guard ball screen.
A slip, or silver, action is a great way to attack defenses that try to
jump screens. The screener detects that his defender is above him and
cannot help if he cuts to the rim.
A slot screen is any ball screen set in the lane line extended area.
Snap is similar to Twirl but the ball is throw into the post instead of
the screener popping out. The cutter curls around the screen opening up
the entry into the post.
Spain is a back screen for the ball screener who is rolling to the
A stack is two players standing next to each other, with one player
closer to the baseline and one player closer to half court. Common
locations include the low block or the top of the key.
A staggered screen is set with one player being in front of the other
while screening. Staggered screens can also be used in ball screen
A stagger wheel is a continuous action of staggered screens. The play can
continue as long as you want it to.
A step-up or “knicks” screen is a wing ball screen set with the
screener’s back to the baseline allowing the ballhandler to drive
towards the baseline.
Screen the screener or pick the picker actions can be used in a variety
of ways. The initial screener will cut off of a second screen and can
usually get a good shot with his defender helping on the first cut.
A high ball screen set with the action towards the two man side.
A high ball screen set with the action towards the single man side.
On a throw back action, the ballhandler uses a ball screen and throws
back to the guard replacing the big man. Once the guard has the ball on
the wing, he looks to pass inside to the screener that just rolled to
A down screen is set for a big man who cuts from one block to the
Tops is a down screen at the top of the key into a reversal and back
screen for the cutter.
A twirl is a curl cut around a screen and an immediate entry to the
screener after the cutter clears. The screener pops out to get the ball.
In twist, a ball screen is set and another follows after the initial
screener has rolled.
Two Man Action
A two man action isolates two players on one side of the floor,
typically for a ball screen action.
UCLA (Up/Back) Screen
The UCLA cut is off of a high post back screen at the elbow. The cutter
cuts from the slot or top of the key down to the block.
Valpo, named for the miracle shot from Bryce Drew, is when a post player
gets the ball and looks to hit the wing player on the run for a shot.
5 sprints out as if to screen for 1 but instead veers to the left to set
a down screen for 3 in the corner.
Taken from Jay Wright at Villanova, weave/nova is continuous dribble
handoffs by the guards on the perimeter.
Often known as “blocker-mover”, wheel is a continuous action with a
cross screen/flare screen combination.
Wide Pin Down/Wave
In a wide pin down, the cutter is usually in the corner with the down
screen coming from the slot and setting the screen in the corner/short
2 and 3 exchanging wings.
5 and 4 are “X-ing” the post.
Zaga action, taken from Mark Few at Gonzaga, uses a combination
zipper/circle pick & roll.
The zipper action is a down screen set on the lane line with the cutter
moving from the block to the slot.