Screens are very difficult to officiate correctly because there are 8 articles to think about when determining if a screen was legal and if the defense or the offense is responsible for the contact.
Rule 4.40 is full of information about how to rule on screening plays. Here is an over-view of each article.
- Defines a screen
- Defines how to establish a legal screening position.
- Outlines screens against a stationary opponent.
- Outlines screens against a stationary opponent outside the visual field.
- Outlines screens against a moving opponent.
- Screens involving players moving in the same path and direction.
- Outlines what is expected of a player screened within their visual field.
- Outlines how a player can move around a screen.
In the following play, we are concerned with article 5; screens against a moving opponent. Here is what the rule states, “When screening a moving opponent, the screener must allow the opponent time and distance to avoid contact by stopping or changing direction. The speed of the player to be screened will determine where the screener may take his/her stationary position. The position will vary and may be one or two normal steps or strides from the opponent.” – NFHS Rule Book, Rule 40.4.5
Watch the video:
In discussions about this play, some officials felt the screen was set inside the visual field of the defender and that he could have avoided contact. However, the consensus was that even though the player was moving along his path, his head was turned and unable to see the screen being set. Therefore, it would be an illegal screen as he was not given space to adjust his path. That being said, even if the screen had be set “inside” the visual field of the defender, because of the speed of the player, he was not given enough time to alter his direction. This contact is a result of a violation of article 5 – time and distance.
Apply article 7?- Incidental contact?
Article 7 states, “In cases of screens outside the visual field, the opponent may make inadvertent contact with the screen and if the opponent is running rapidly, the contact may be severe. Such a case is to be ruled as incidental contact.” Some officials may argue, including the ruling on the court in this play, that this contact was incidental. However, time and distance requirements of article 5 must be met BEFORE we can rule incidental contact.