Late Clock Efficiency Checklist

For those readers who play with a shot clock, perhaps the most important usage of points per possession at both ends of the floor is how effective your team is at the end of the shot clock. For purposes of this article, let’s define the “end” as the last 10 seconds. (For those who play without a shot clock, the same principles apply but at the end of quarters. This quarter analysis. in itself, is worth the effort to compute as many games are decided by one or two possessions and any competitive edge that one can get is worthwhile.)

Let’s analyze the end of shot clock possessions in the following checklist:

  • First, one has to know statistically how one’s team performs at the end of the shot clock. If this can’t be done live, then it certainly can be done afterwards with video work.
  • DER is just as important as OER even though there is a tendency to concentrate on end of shot clock offensive performance.
  • In general, it is expected that end of shot clock offensive performance will be less than overall performance because of the urgency of getting ANY shot. It is logical that there will more bad or hurried shots at the end of the clock. Conversely, DER should logically be better at the end for the very same reasons.
  • In the case of OER, if there is a great disparity between earlier shot clock OER and end OER, it should be a concern. Conversely, if there ISN’T a disparity with early and end, that should be a concern.
  • Once one knows how a team is performing at the end of the shot clock, one has to practice these situations on a daily basis which obviously means using a shot clock for any competitive 5 on 5 situations. (One could even go as far as clocking 4 on 4 and 3 on 3 segments as well).
  • The decision as to when a coach wants to stop “regular” offensive action in a possession can vary. Some switch to “end” mentality at 12 seconds, 10 seconds, or even less. This decision can also vary from possession to possession. If the action is good at 10 seconds left, maybe the coach or point guard keeps the action going. If the action is bad, maybe it’s time to abort and run “end” action.
  • Most teams do not have time at the end to do more than run screen/roll-pop or clear out. In either case, is the ball handler always the same or are there 2-3 players who can “go”? Using more than one player can save time from getting the ball back to the same player every time.
  • One very important thought-if one’s team performs BETTER at the offensive end of the shot clock with screen/roll or clearing out, maybe they should be running it all the time, if they already don’t. The football analogy, of course, is teams that have run “two-minute drills” well, often use that as their offense the entire game.
  • One thought at the defensive end of the shot clock- When opponents run screen/roll or clear out, some coaches automatically zone or double the clear out man. Just maintaining good basic man is just as effective, allowing the clock to add pressure.

The keys to more effective performance at the end of the shot clock are simple. Being cognizant statistically is the start, having a basic plan of attack is next but the most important is practicing with a shot clock EVERY time it comes up in practice. There is no luxury of casual possession ends in games, so there shouldn’t be in practice.


  1. A useful rule of thumb might be:
    If you like what you’re doing at the 10 second (or 8, or your choice) then keep doing it. If you’re going nowhere then get to the set piece with a counter.

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