What is a Pindown in Basketball?

Basketball teams run offensive plays to try and get high-percentage shots. One common play is called a “pindown”. A pindown is a play where a player runs off one or more screens to get open for a shot. The screens are called “pindowns” because a big man will screen or “pin” down the player’s defender to create space. Screens are also called “picks”.

The pindown screen gives the offensive player just enough room to separate from his defender.  This allows him to get open as he curls off the screens to a spot where he can catch a pass. After catching the ball, the player can go straight up into his shooting motion for an open jump shot.

The pindown creates a great look for a catch-and-shoot chance and efficient offense. Executed well, it is a highly effective play for teams. In this article, we will delve into the depths of what a Pindown in basketball is, its significance, and how it’s executed on the court.

The pin down screen is a type of down screen that is typically set near or within the lane at an angle towards the basket. The pin down screen is generally utilized to help an offensive player get open, especially to take a mid-range or three-point jump shot near the perimeter areas of the court.

Pindown in Basketball

The pin down screen is a type of down screen that is typically set near or within the lane at an angle towards the basket. Pin down screen is generally utilized to help an offensive player get open, especially to take a mid-range or three-point jump shot near the perimeter areas of the court.

The pin down screen can also be integrated into an offensive set, commonly referred to as floppy action or a floppy screen.

Essentially, in a floppy action, an offensive player positions themselves near or under the basket. This player can then cut off a single pin-down screen set near one side of the lane or a double screen, typically a stagger screen, set near the opposite side of the lane.

Understanding the Basketball Term Pin Down

The term pin down refers to the screening action that creates a pindown play. When a big man sets a screen for a teammate to run off of, he is essentially “pinning” that player’s defender down and obstructing his path. This allows the offensive player to create separation and get open as he curls off the pin down screen. 

The picker pins the guard or wing player’s man down, enabling the shooter to gain an advantage that gives him room to either take a jump shot or drive to the basket. That screening action is referred to as a pin down.

The Role of a Pin Down in Basketball

The pin down screen is an integral part of basketball offenses. Its key role is to create just enough space and separation to give shooters room to get their shots off. Pin downs are designed specifically to get shooters and scorers open looks, especially from three-point range or the midrange area. 

The picking action serves to momentarily obstruct a defender, freeing up an offensive player to catch and shoot or make an offensive move. Pin downs aim to generate open shots for teams when they desperately need a basket. Running them effectively is an essential skill in basketball.

Types of Pin Downs in Basketball

There are a few different types of pin down screens teams like to run in basketball:

  • Single Pin Down: One big man sets a screen for a shooter curling off a single pin down. This is the most basic version.
  • Double Pin Down: Two screens are set, with two big men screening for the shooter coming off curls. The multiple picks make it even harder for the defense.
  • Flare Pin Down: A wing player will “flare” out towards the three point line before the pin down screen occurs. This flare creates even more space for the pin down.
  • Step-Up Pin Down: The screener steps up to set the pin down rather than being stationary. This recreates the obstruction repeatedly.
  • Staggered Pin Downs: The shooter runs off multiple, staggered screens on the same possession from different angles.

Varying the type of pin down used keeps the defense guessing and makes this play even more effective for offenses.

What are all the Different types of Screens in Basketball?

Basketball features a wide variety of screening actions for offenses to utilize. Different screens serve different strategic purposes:

Pin Downs: Pin offensive players’ defenders to create catch-and-shoot chances.

Down Screens: Free up baseline cutters to initiate plays.

Ball Screens: Directly screen on-ball defenders to attack the rim off the dribble.

Flare Screens: Step out to open the paint for drivers by luring defenders.

Hammer Screens: Set multiple screens on one defender in succession.

Elevator Screens: Use two screeners to force switches to get mismatches.

Staggered Screens: Set multiple screens from different angles on a possession.

Back Screens: Surprise defenders by screening from behind or the blindside.

Flex Screens: Screens set crisscrossing the court on flex cuts and actions.

These screening varieties give offenses diverse ways to unsettle defenses. Layering different screens together on plays further allows coaches to strategically hunt the ideal scoring chances.

Utilizing a Pin Down in Basketball

Teams utilize pin down screens in specific situations during a game where they need to generate a good shot. Here is when pin downs come in handy:

Shot Clock Expiring: The pin down can produce a last second shot when the shot clock is running down. A quick pin down can free up a look.

Need Scoring Spark: If a team is struggling to score, a well-executed pin down can create an open jumpshot and a quick basket.

Free Up Star Shooters: Pin downs are used frequently to get sharpshooters like Klay Thompson or JJ Redick open 3-point attempts.

Counter Defensive Pressure: When defenses clamp down, the pin down can relieve that pressure and get a shooter loose.

Take Final Shot: Coaches will diagram pin downs to get a shooter open for the last possession of a close game or shot clock.

The pin down’s utility in generating open shots during key moments is what makes it such a pivotal component of offensive schemes. Coaches know they can count on this action to produce efficient scoring when they diagram these sets during crucial situations.

Guarding Against a Pin Down in Basketball

Guarding Against a Pin Down in Basketball

Defenses must be prepared to counter pin down screens to avoid giving up easy baskets. Common tactics include hedge hard over the top of screens, quickly switch defenders on screens, or “ice” the screen by having a secondary defender sag off and between the picker and cutter. The goal is obstruct passing angles and limit the cutter’s room to operate. 

Communicating between defenders is key when guarding pin downs. Teams can also disguise their own screens to trick defenses. Executing solid fundamentals limits offenses utilizing pin down action.

What is a Flat Screen in Basketball?

A flat screen is another type of basketball screen used to free up players. On a flat screen, rather than setting an angle that pins a defender, the screening player will stand flat and stationary, almost shoulder-to-shoulder, with the player he’s screening for. The purpose is to create some confusion between defenders through physicality and obstruct the trail defender’s path momentarily. 

Flat screens rely more on the screening player’s size and strength to set solid screens that allow ball handlers and cutters to utilize change of pace and direction to attack defenses. Big men like Steven Adams excel at setting nasty flat screens.

What is the wide pin down screen

A wide pin down is an off ball screen set for a player typically located in either corner. The screener sets the screen so that it is angled towards or in line with the passer, and the player receiving the pin down is wider (further outside) than the screener.

Wide pin downs have long been a staple in basketball, but their popularity has surged in recent years, particularly in the NBA. This tactic is frequently employed for elite shooters and scorers such as Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant.

Wide pin downs effectively create open shots for shooters, facilitate mid-range scoring opportunities, and transition smoothly into a two-man game with the screener.

Flare Screen Basketball

A flare screen is another common basketball screening action. On a flare screen, rather than setting a pick for a cutting teammate, the screener will step out and away from the basket to “flare” towards the three-point line. This flaring motion brings the screener’s defender with him and simulates a screen, creating extra space on the court. 

Flare screens are often used preceding pin downs or dribble hand offs to cause confusion and provide additional separation for shooters and cutters to operate. JJ Redick has made a living drifting off flare screens for open three point shot opportunities during his NBA career.

What is a Hammer Screen in Basketball?

A hammer screen refers to when an offensive player sets multiple screens on the same defender in quick succession on one possession. On a hammer screen, an offensive player will first set an initial screen on the ball. But rather than rolling away, he will quickly turn and re-screen that same defender again, acting like a hammer pounding down. 

Persistent screening with the hammer screen aims to disrupt the defender, opening space for the ball handler. This strategy allows for attacks on the paint or jump shots. Just as basketball players have shoes for the court, utilizing effective plays like the hammer screen enhances overall gameplay.

What is a Stunt in Basketball?

A stunt in basketball refers to a strategic defensive rotation to briefly double-team the offensive player with the ball. It usually involves a perimeter defender temporarily leaving his man to step into the lane and deter or trap the ball handler before recovering quickly. 

Stunts are meant to harass dribblers, pressure passes, force turnovers, and disrupt offensive rhythm and flow. Teams with athletic wings like the Miami Heat utilize stunts frequently, flying all over the court to deter drives and passes into the paint through constant movement. When timed well, stunts can overwhelm offenses.

Examples of Pin Downs in Basketball

Pin down screens are an integral part of many popular basketball plays. The pindown is a staple for teams looking to get their top scorers open looks. Here are some plays that utilize pindown action:

  • Rip Hamilton Coming Off Pin Downs: The Detroit Pistons got Rip Hamilton countless open midrange jumpers by having him run off multiple pin down screens along the baseline or wings.
  • Reggie Miller Curling Off Pin Downs: The Indiana Pacers had post players set pin downs to free up legendary shooter Reggie Miller for catch-and-shoot three pointers during his career.
  • JJ Redick Navigating Off-Ball Screens: Clippers and Sixers sets often feature JJ Redick sharpshooting after working off pin downs and dribble hand offs from big men.
  • Klay Thompson Operating Around Screens: The Warriors use “elevator screen” pin downs to spring Thompson for quick-trigger three point attempts.

These examples demonstrate the utility of the pin down screen for getting elite perimeter threats quality catch-and-shoot opportunities.

Down Screen Basketball

Down Screen Basketball

A down screen in basketball is a screening action where an offensive player will set a pick for a teammate cutting along the baseline area. The screener will set an angle that heads the cutter “down” the court, often toward the basket down low. Hence these picks being termed “down screens”.

Down screens are often set up to initiate plays offensively and get teams into their sets smoothly. Big men will set down screens along the baseline to give wings room to cut into the lane and trigger the offense. The down screen provides an obstruction to free up the cutting player initially.

Coaches also use down screens late in possessions to give their offense a different look or create mismatches. Having a guard cut off a post player’s down screen can cause defensive assignments to get mixed up through screens. The confusion can produce open driving lanes and scoring opportunities.

Down screens have become an instrumental way for teams to dictate terms early in possessions to unsettle defenses. Their role in sparking efficient offense through timely screens makes them a routine part of halfcourt sets.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you pin down a player?

To pin down a player, a big man sets a screen that makes contact with the offensive player’s defender, obstructing his path and preventing him from following his man as he cuts.

What is a down screen basketball?

A down screen in basketball is when a player sets a pick along the baseline to free up a teammate to cut down the court toward the basket.

How do you pin someone in basketball?

You pin someone in basketball by using your body as a screen to temporarily block or obstruct the path of that player’s defender.

What is a flare screen in basketball?

A flare screen in basketball occurs when a screener steps out and away from the basket area, flaring toward the three point line to bring his defender with him.


In conclusion, a pindown in basketball is an integral offensive play where a shooter sprints off one or more screens to create an open catch-and-shoot opportunity. The key screening action involves a big man “pinning” the shooter’s defender to momentarily obstruct his path and free up the shooter to get open. If executed properly, pindown plays generate efficient and quality scoring chances, especially from the three-point line area. 

Pinning defender’s down with solid screens to enable shooters and scorers to utilize curls, cuts, and shooting precision is why the pindown remains such a pivotal part of basketball offenses. Varying screening angles and types keeps defenses guessing and allows offenses to hunt the best high-percentage look through this timeless play.

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