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Pick-and-Pop: Versatility for Modern Power Forwards

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    Sports Tips

Pick-and-Pop: Versatility for Modern Power Forwards

In the ever-evolving landscape of basketball, the versatility of the power forward has become paramount. One staple of the contemporary game is the pick-and-pop play. This maneuver not only showcases the power forward’s shooting range but also opens up countless offensive opportunities. Let’s dive into the mechanics and strategic advantages of the pick-and-pop.

What is the Pick-and-Pop?

The pick-and-pop is a two-man game often executed between a guard and a power forward. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown:

  1. Screen Setting

    • The power forward sets a solid screen on the defender guarding the ball handler (usually a guard). This action is crucial as it creates separation.
  2. Popping Out

    • Instead of rolling to the basket after setting the screen (as in a pick-and-roll), the power forward "pops" out to an open space on the perimeter, ready to receive a pass.
  3. Spot Up Shooting

    • Once the power forward receives the pass, they are in an optimal position to take a high-percentage jump shot, typically from beyond the three-point line or the mid-range.

Tactical Advantages

Floor SpacingPulling the power forward out to the perimeter stretches the defense, opening paths for drives and cuts.
Mismatch ExploitationBig men who can shoot are rare; this tactic exploits traditional power forwards who are less comfortable defending on the perimeter.
Defensive ConfusionSwitching defenses can be exploited as the pick-and-pop creates a brief moment of defensive disarray.
Versatility and Ball MovementEncourages fluidity and ball movement, leading to better overall team offense.
High-Percentage ShotsSets up uncontested shots for proficient shooting big men.

Key Techniques for Players

  • Setting Effective Screens
    • Use a wide base and stay grounded. The screen should be firm to create enough separation for the ball handler.
  • Quick Release and Shot Preparedness
    • Be ready to shoot immediately after receiving the ball. This requires muscle memory and confidence in shooting mechanics.
  • Court Awareness
    • Understand spacing and be aware of defensive rotations to exploit open lanes and shots.

Drills to Enhance Pick-and-Pop Skills

  1. Screen and Shoot Drill

    • Set up cones to represent defenders. Practice setting a screen and then quickly moving to predetermined spots for shooting.
  2. Two-Ball Shooting

    • Partner with a teammate. Practice catching and shooting off screens with two balls to build quick-release efficiency.
  3. Footwork Refinement

    • Use agility ladders and cones to work on foot positioning, ensuring a balanced and quick transition from screen to shot.

Coaching Tips for Implementing Pick-and-Pop

  • Communicate and Explain

    • Make sure your players understand the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind the pick-and-pop. A good understanding breeds better execution.
  • Use Film Study

    • Show examples of successful pick-and-pop plays from NBA games or your past games to illustrate key points.
  • Simulate Situations

    • During practice, simulate different defensive coverages (e.g., hedging, switching) to better prepare your team for game scenarios.
  • Reiterate Patience and Timing

    • Emphasize the importance of timing. The success of the pick-and-pop lies in the synchronization between the screener and the ball handler.


The pick-and-pop offers a multifaceted approach that modern teams can leverage to create offensive dynamism and versatility. Power forwards who master this play become invaluable assets, effectively blending traditional big-man skills with modern stretch-four capabilities. Coaches should invest in developing this play, fostering a team culture that appreciates and utilizes the intricate dance of spacing, timing, and shot-making.

Stay Tuned

Follow up for our next feature: "Defensive Schemes to Counteract Pick-and-Pop Plays" - taking your coaching strategies to the next level!

Join the conversation: How has the pick-and-pop changed the role of power forwards on your team? Share your experiences in the comments below!