Simple Practice Tips To Control Tempo, Decrease Turnovers, and Get Quality Shots

By - Ken Sartini

Years ago, I was watching a DePaul game. During a time out, Ray Meyer was telling his team that all they had to do was take care of the ball, run some clock, and get a good shot each time down the floor. IF you do that, they won't have the ball enough times to beat us. This was late in the game, less than 2 minutes.

Practice Tip - Starting Out Small

One day we were running our Open Post Offense and my players were shooting a little faster than I wanted them to. So I decided to introduce a concept that I was thinking about at the time.

To get them to be able to cut as close to a minute off the clock as possible.

So, I called it CUT 1.

I started out a little more realistic; I had them cut 15 seconds off the clock at first. Once they could handle that, I decided to make it more difficult than a regular game, so I added a 6th defender.

Controlling Tempo - Adding More Difficulty

After they mastered 15 seconds, I added another 15 seconds, making it 30 seconds. This was a lot more difficult but I wanted them to be able to keep the ball for 30 seconds simulating holding the ball for the last shot.

Surprisingly, they handled this pretty well until I added the 6 defender. This took awhile but they finally got comfortable enough to handle the pressure. I wanted them to be able to handle the pressure and to get into a set around the 8 second mark, getting a good shot off around the 4 second mark, allowing us a chance for a rebound and put back, but NOT giving them a chance to score.

Scrimmage Time!

Then we turned on the score board and let them scrimmage using Double Up. What I wanted them to do was to take the clock down to the next minute. So if there was 6:45 on the clock, the goal was to take it down to 5:00 before they could shoot, unless it was an uncontested lay up. If the clock read 6:35, take it down to 5:00, thus CUT 1 became part of our philosophy at certain points in games.

Obviously, you need players that can handle the ball, make good decisions, pass well and read the defenses. This is a great equalizer if you are out manned. You can use this to control the tempo and shorten the game. You can use this to protect players that are in foul trouble too.

If you don't have this type of player, I wouldn't suggest this.

Related Pages & Helpful Resources

How to Develop a High Scoring Motion Offense
Great Delay Game Offense - Get Easy Baskets and Run Off Clock
Basketball Game Strategy and How to Get an Edge Over the Competition

What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...


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Brian Sass says:
7/9/2014 at 10:43:38 PM

I can not agree more with what Jordan and Ken have said. You use the strategy that gives your team the best chance to win.

If your team is bigger, stronger, faster, and just better than mine, why should I play your game, or be made to play your game?

Right now the college game is beset by stagnant offenses, little movement, and then a high ball screen with 10 seconds left on the shot clock. There are a handful of teams that run good motion or good sets, but too many teams just rely on transition and the individual talent, instead of running a system.

If you want to have a shot clock, then fine. But add the NBA zone defense rules too.

At the high school level, I have seen "run & gun" teams that are throwing shots up, have no concept of shot selection, setting and using screens off the ball, and often times have a scoring average that is the same as teams that play at a slower tempo.

I think the more important thing is that whatever style you want to run, teach it well. Because poorly taught fast break basketball is far more unbearable to watch than well taught temp of controlled ball.

Rules should be implemented for the betterment of the game. If rules are only added to benefit the most talented team, especially at the youth level, then in my opinion, that is a bad rule.

Food for thought.

Brian Sass


Jordan says:
6/10/2013 at 5:26:07 PM

A shot clock does not mean better basketball. Part of the reason no shot clock is good is that players learn basketball, not just pass the ball 4 times and then go one-on-one and force up a bad shot because the shot clock is running down. No shot clock gives the coach a chance to teach kids the difference between good shots and bad shots. high scoring does not mean better basketball. I would much rather watch a low scoring game where the teams use teamwork and get good shots instead of the crap I see with a shot clock.


Ken Sartini says:
5/30/2013 at 9:17:33 AM

Peter -

Your ideas are great as long as you have some good players.... but, what about the teams that struggle? Run up and down the floor and the other team breaks the scoreboard? Getting beat by 50 is not a better game to play, at least in my mind.

IF I had the talent, I would press 84' and break every time.... I didn't have those types of kids. I always felt like, its the coaches job to put his players in a position to win. Run, press, control the tempo, last shot of every qtr, - whatever it takes.



Peter says:
5/30/2013 at 7:45:25 AM

And that is why the game needs a shot clock... FIBA rules are the best rules by far and all high schools need to use at least a 30 shot clock, preferrably a 24 second clock. I coach using FIBA rules and we have very high scoring and fast games - no chance to stall the clock. Better game to play, better game to watch.


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