Anything that is worth knowing about can be simplified to a basketball metaphor: the pick and roll. I might be oversimplifying, but sit back and follow along anyway. The pick and roll is a basketball play in which a ball handler has a “pick” or “screen” set for him by another player who, in most cases, will roll to the basket to accept a pass. It is the most common fixture of modern basketball. Teams spend hours upon hours learning the basic motions of this play. Teams remember this basic structure no matter how complicated the sets become. Our “friends” grammar and punctuation operate the same way within our lives. The plan (with aggressive hyperbole) is to walk you through the complex metaphor of a ten-second action that can be the key to grammatical achievement.
The key to starting a great pick and roll comes before you even call the play. Personnel and spacing are both necessary to take into account before you can even think about rolling the ball out there. Have five guys who can’t pass? (You’re bad at building a basketball team.) Obviously-- you should make arrangements for different personnel. Regarding spacing: coaches drool at the possibilities of having room to turn the court into the dreamscapes that only a maniacal, middle-aged man can scribble in a notebook. And they should! The thought of ruining a perfectly good play by forcing limited room upon world-class athletes moves those same middle-aged men to tears faster than an ASPCA commercial.
These factors are similar to how writing styles affect your reader. No matter how great your grammar and punctuation are: poor diction, voice, and non-concise writing will ruin your credibility. Many students and writers throw these rough choices around like a jump shot in the dark: blind. Like a bad basketball coach, you can talk yourself into the decisions at the time, because the mistakes are easy to make. In hindsight however, an aggressive tone on a self-help blog is not a good strategy. The same can be said about classics like “2 A.M. in the morning” and “each and every.” The mistakes in the words that we choose and the context in which we choose to use them are every bit as fatal as fielding a team with all the same skills, or clogging Michael Jordan’s driving lane with a couple seconds on the clock.
With proper spacing and personnel, there are several variations of the pick and roll that you can run. The three most notable are: screen and roll, “slipping” the screen, and the pick and “pop.” A simple screen and roll occurs when the screener sets a pick for the ball handler and rolls off of it toward the basket. The screen and roll halts the action only to start anew and create options for the ball handler. Pro-tip: A very exciting version results in an “alley-oop” where the ball handler throws the ball at the rim and the screener proceeds to send the ball into Hates for all its earthly sins the hoop. Slip screening is more sleight of hand though. The screener will come towards the ball...