NBA Terminology – Ice/Blue/Weak

Last year I wrote a post talking about how the NBA guards sideline pick & rolls. Some of the information will be somewhat redundant, but I encourage you to read that older post because it is very detailed and incorporates a few videos; you can find the post HERE.

Ice/Blue: Most, if not all, NBA teams will Ice or Blue any side pick & rolls on the wing at some point in the game. What does this mean? Ice or Bluing a screen means the defender on the ball will force the ball handler baseline as the defending big zones to the baseline. NBA players are so quick and explosive, if you allow them to get to the middle of the floor, their options are endless. However, if you force to the corner the options of attack decrease drastically.

Some coaches philosophies are different than others when it comes to this technique. Some NBA coaches will Ice/Blue anything on the side while others will only Ice/Blue when it is a Shake Pick & Roll (Shake P&R is a ballscreen in which the ballside corner is occupied). In my opinion the term Shake could confuse some younger players; one thing I picked up this Summer in Orlando at the Summer League is the term Corner Fill. While I was watching the Boston Celtics play, I would hear a coach or player yell out “Corner Fill”, only to have it echoed amongst the rest of the team.

“Corner Fill” is an indicator to the rest of the team that there is an offensive player occupying the ballside corner and if there is a side pick & roll that they to Ice/Blue it. This gives the defense an extra defender in the corner to prevent the baseline attack. If “Corner Fill” is not yelled out, they usually showed, zoned, or blitzed the pick.

 Some teams also refer to this as “Downing”.

Weak: “Weak” is a term that I think every basketball coach should use on defense. “Weak” means that if there is a middle pick & roll and the defending big yells out, “Weak”, the on-ball defender knows to force the ball to his right (force dribbler to his/her left) why the big plays the scheme/coverage. Why do I think this technique is so great?

  1. Your defenders always know how to guard the middle pick & roll because it is always going the same direction and this will help improve the efficiency of your rotations.
  2. In today’s game, bigs are getting smarter and smarter and are great at quickly changing their angles, making the defending big sometimes irrelevant. By weaking, you take this away.
  3. Unless we are talking about the elite basketball players, which are few and far between, most right handed basketball players (especially at the high school and youth levels) are not as confident dribbling with their left hand. Now you are probably asking, what about left-handed players? Refer to Point #1.

I highly encourage you to read my old post “Defending Sideline Pick & Rolls” if you have not already.

I would love your feedback and if you think this will work for your team.


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