Pin Down in Basketball

What is a Pin Down in Basketball? (Complete Guide)

As a fast-paced and dynamic sport, basketball requires players to execute several offensive and defensive strategies. One essential offensive maneuver is the “Pin Down,” which involves a player setting a screen for a teammate to create space and open up scoring opportunities.

In this article, we’ll explore what is a pin down in basketball, including the different types, execution, and defensive strategies to counter them.

What is a Pin Down in Basketball?

At its core, a pin down is about freeing up a player by using a teammate’s screen. It usually involves guards positioned on the low block, waiting for vertical or angled screens from big men running down from the elbow. This allows the guards to pop out to the 3-point line and receive the ball for a shot attempt.

A typical pin down involves two primary players: the player setting the screen (often a forward or center) and the player using the screen (usually a guard or small forward). The player setting the screen aims to create a barrier between the defender and the player coming off the screen, allowing them to have more space to take a shot.

Types of Pin Downs

Types of Pin Downs in Basketball

Flex Pin Down

The flex pin down is a classic basketball play where a player sets a screen for another player, who then cuts to the basket. This type of pin down is often used to create scoring opportunities for shooters or cutters.

Flare Pin Down

In a flare pin down, the screener sets the screen and then “flares out” towards the three-point line. This play is highly effective when the shooter is an excellent three-point threat.

Back Screen Pin Down

The back screen pin down involves a player setting a screen on the defender who is guarding the player they want to free up. This allows the offensive player to cut to the basket, creating a potential scoring opportunity.

Cross Screen Pin Down

In a cross screen pin down, the screener sets the screen horizontally across the court. This is commonly used to free up players in the low post or on the baseline.

Down Screen Pin Down

The down screen pin down is similar to the back screen pin down, but the screener sets the screen while facing the baseline. This is often used to create open shots for players coming off the screen.

How a Pin Down is Executed?

To execute a pin down, players must communicate effectively and time their movements precisely. The player who will receive the screen (the cutter) must read the defender’s positioning and make a quick decision on whether to use the screen or take a different route.

The screener should create a solid and legal screen, ensuring that they are stationary and not moving when making contact with the defender. Additionally, the cutter must use the screen effectively by using changes of pace and direction to create separation from the defender.

Defend Against Pin Down

How to Defend Against a Pin Down in Basketball?

Defending against pin downs requires a combination of individual and team defensive efforts. Here are some strategies to counter pin downs effectively:

Communication: Defenders should communicate and switch if necessary to prevent open shots.

Anticipation: Defenders must read the offensive players‘ movements and anticipate the pin down to be in the right position to defend.

Fight Through Screens: Players should fight through screens to stay close to the offensive player and contest shots effectively.

Help Defense: Teammates should provide help defense when the cutter gets past the initial defender to prevent easy scoring opportunities.

Close Out: When the cutter receives the ball after using the screen, defenders should close out quickly to contest the shot and avoid fouling.


In conclusion, pin downs are a fundamental aspect of basketball’s offensive strategies. Proper execution of pin downs requires coordination, timing, and communication among players. On the defensive end, teams must be vigilant and work together to disrupt pin downs and limit their effectiveness.

Mastering the art of pin downs will undoubtedly elevate a team’s overall performance on the basketball court.


Can pin downs be used at all levels of basketball?

Yes, pin downs can be utilized at all levels of basketball, from youth leagues to professional play. The key is to teach players the proper techniques and timing to execute pin downs effectively.

How can players improve their pin down execution?

Players can improve their pin down execution through regular practice, effective communication, and understanding defensive strategies to counter it.

Are pin downs legal in basketball?

Yes, pin downs are legal as long as the screener sets a legal screen without moving. And the cutter doesn’t push off the defender excessively.

How can coaches incorporate pin downs into their team’s offense?

Coaches can introduce pin downs during practice sessions, emphasizing proper execution and timing. They can also incorporate specific plays that involve pin downs to be used in-game situations.

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