How to Use Flare Screens in Basketball: A Complete Guide for 2024

Escrito por: Chris Hungerford



Tiempo de lectura 5 min

As parents of young basketball players, you want to see your kids succeed on the court. And let's face it, few things are more exciting than watching your child master a new skill that gives their team an edge. That's where learning how to use flare screens in basketball comes in. This highly effective play can leave defenders disoriented and create open shots for your kid's team. How to use flare screens in basketball is a total game changer. This blog will teach you the ins and outs of this exciting basketball strategy.

Table of Contents:

Understanding the Flare Screen in Basketball

Before we get into the how-to, it's important to understand what a flare screen is and why it's so effective. Basically, a flare screen is a basketball play where an offensive player sets a screen on the defender of a teammate who is moving away from the basket.

The teammate using the flare screen – let's call them the 'cutter' – sprints towards the perimeter, using the screener's body as a shield to get open for a pass or shot. What's cool about flare screens is that they happen far out on the court, often near the three-point line.

This catches the defenders off guard as they are usually focused on defending plays closer to the basket. You see, defenses often get caught sleeping when they see a play developing so far away from the hoop, but a perfectly executed flare screen exploits that lapse in defensive attention.

Why Flare Screens are a Game Changer

Flare screens are so effective because they:

  • Create open shots: Flare screens force the defender to navigate around a screener which often leads to open shots for the cutter, particularly from three-point range.
  • Disrupt defensive rotations: This play can throw a wrench in the defensive rotations because it forces them to adapt to an unexpected movement on the court.
  • Create scoring opportunities: This move can also open up scoring opportunities for the screener because if the defender commits too hard to defending the cutter, the screener can then slip to the basket for an easy layup.

How to Set a Flare Screen in Basketball

Now, let’s dive into how to execute a perfect flare screen:

1. The Setup

The flare screen typically begins with the cutter starting on the weak side of the court, often near the baseline. Meanwhile, the screener is usually positioned on the perimeter, a bit further away from the basket than the cutter.

2. The Cut

As the ball handler prepares to pass, the cutter sprints toward the ball handler, moving quickly and decisively. It’s crucial to cut tightly around the screener.

3. The Screen

Here’s where things get physical. This isn't a half-hearted bump – it’s a legit basketball play. It’s crucial the screener remains stationary and absorbs contact to create that crucial separation for the cutter.

4. Calling Out the Play

Communication is key in basketball. It's crucial for both the cutter and screener to use both visual and verbal cues during this move.

This could be as simple as yelling 'Flare.' to let the other player know what's coming, or using hand signals to direct each other. I have found through the years, especially coaching at younger levels, that these non-verbal cues are super effective and prevent miscommunications and mistakes on the court. It also helps when there’s a lot of crowd noise.

5. Screening Legality

Coaches should also emphasize to their players to stay legal when screening. I know many veteran referees and you can take my word on this, if the referee has any indication the screener isn’t remaining set or tries to use their hands to impede the defender, then you better believe they're getting slapped with a foul faster than you can blink. Moving screens aren’t allowed. Coaches:  use this as a good source.

How to Defend Flare Screens

Of course, what good is teaching you how to use flare screens in basketball if we didn't also discuss defending against them. Here's how defenders can counter this cunning move.

Fighting Over the Screen

The most common defensive strategy is for the defender guarding the cutter to 'fight over' the screen, meaning they hustle to stay connected with the cutter.


Another defensive tactic to defend against how to use flare screens in basketball is to have defenders quickly switch assignments so the player guarding the screener can pick up the cutter, preventing an easy shot. Effective communication is crucial when executing this.

Helping and Recovering

Defenders often have to work together to shut down well-executed flare screens. For example, a teammate might 'help' by momentarily blocking the cutter's path, giving the original defender time to recover.

FAQs About How to Use Flare Screens in Basketball

How to Set a Flare Screen in Basketball

Mastering this is easy if you follow these steps: start with the cutter on the weak side, have the cutter sprint towards the ball handler, have the screener set a strong and stationary screen to free the cutter, use good verbal and visual communication on the court, and emphasize to players the importance of screening legally to avoid penalties.

What is a Flare Screen in Basketball?

It's an offensive play where a player (the screener) sets a screen away from the ball, typically near the three-point line for a teammate moving toward the perimeter.

How to Fight Through Screens in Basketball

To fight through screens, you need to stay low, use your hands and forearms legally, maintain good footwork, try to anticipate your opponent's direction, communicate effectively with your teammates, and keep moving. These defensive strategies will help defend how to use flare screens in basketball.

How to Defend Flare Screens

Shutting this offensive move down requires anticipation and a range of defensive tactics, like 'fighting over' the screen, quickly 'switching' defensive assignments, and 'helping and recovering' as a team to cover the cutter.


Flare screen

Understanding how to use flare screens in basketball is essential to elevating a basketball team’s play to the next level. For players and coaches looking for an edge in youth basketball, flare screens can be a great tool to master as they exploit the natural flow of the game to create scoring opportunities. How to use flare screens in basketball is all about teamwork, good timing, communication, and of course, strong, legal screening. It’s important to emphasize that communication is everything in executing and defending this offensive move effectively.

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