What's The Big Deal With The Screen?

by Tom Fakehany

 Legal?  No?  It's in the rules, but how would you call it, and how tightly?

Once upon a time, there were certain actions that automatically would lead to a
screen call.  For example, if two players lined up right next to each other in
the front row and the served ball traveled directly over them, the referee could call a screen.

The interpretation has changed.  A screen is now always a judgment call by the
referee.  If the referee believes that the receiver was screened, then they can call a screen.  In the example given above, it could be a screen if the ball had a
low trajectory right over the front row players.  It would not be a screen if the serve was a high floater.

The referee would be correct he/she stated that the receiver has a responsibility to
move to see the server if ONE player is screening the server.  Then, if the
defensive player moves with you, the referee can give a card for improper behavior.

The pyramid  was once the procedure that all teams used and they all raised their hands as well.  That was before screening was outlawed.  If the referee judges that your receivers are having a difficult time seeing the flight of the ball, then they should call a screen and nothing in the rules would stop it.

Many players yell "screen" all the time, even when it is obvious that they were
not screened.  Since a screen depends on the flight of the ball, no team can
claim screen before it happens.  Those teams that yell "screen" before the
serve are most likely to upset the referee.  This is improper behavior.  If you
are screened, then have your captain go to the referee and ask politely if he can
watch for a screen by the opposing team.

Very, few officials will call a screen "out of the blue."  Almost all will try to get the attention of the serving team and say something like, "I believe that they would have a hard time seeing the serve if it happens to go over you two.  I'd hate to call a screen.  Why don't you bend at the waist or split a little?"  It is NOT required to warn a team.

It is not typically good technique for the referee to call a screen just because
the other team complains.  It is fine to pay more attention to this issue, but
if this is a break from previous technique, then the official should fill the
teams in on the situation.