What Is an Illegal Screen In Basketball?

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What Is an Illegal Screen?

An illegal screen, also known as a moving screen or a pick, is a type of foul when a player uses their body to block another player’s path without giving them the chance to avoid contact.

This can happen when a player sets a screen for a teammate and moves before the defender can get around them or if a player tries to block a shot by moving into the shooter’s path. Illegal screens can also occur when a player attempts to stop another player from getting past them by extending their arms or legs in their way.

What Is a Moving Screen?

In basketball, a moving screen is when an offensive player moves into the path of a defender in order to block their progress. This can be done with or without the ball, but it must be done intentionally in order to be considered a foul. They are typically called on bigger players who use their size and strength to impede the progress of smaller defenders.

How Illegal Screens Happen

Illegal screens happen when a player moves too quickly or abruptly to block another player’s path. This can be done either with their body or with their arms and legs extended outwards, which creates an obstacle that makes it hard for the offensive players to get around them without making contact.

It can also happen if a player sets up too close to another player, making it difficult for them to pass or shoot without coming into contact with them. They can also occur when two players stand side-by-side and form a barrier between defenders trying to guard them on offense.

How To Avoid The Foul

1. Make sure you do not make contact with the other player first. If you initiate contact, it will be considered a foul.

2. Do not extend your arms or legs to make contact with the other player. This is also considered a foul.

3. Give the other player room to move around you. If you are too close, it will be difficult for them to avoid contact, and a foul may be called.

4. Make sure your body is not between the other player and the basket. This is considered a blocking foul and will result in a turnover.


To summarize, an illegal screen is when one player intentionally sets up an obstruction that prevents the other team from moving down the court freely, giving one team an unfair advantage over another team in basketball.

Whether it’s done by standing side-by-side and forming a wall between two defenders on offense, blocking off access near the basket, or moving abruptly to prevent someone from passing or shooting, all of these scenarios can result in an illegal screen being called against your team during gameplay.

Knowing how and why illegal screens happen can help you avoid committing one yourself.