A national sport magazine once suggested that a football is really only in movement for 7 1/2 minutes a game. TV football commentators, however, are always talking about time of possession and telling us how long a scoring drive took and how long the defense was on the field. Basketball commentators too, are always yammering about the shot clock, but the actual move that precedes a shot really doesn’t amount to more than a second or three and the shot is a flick of the wrist.
From the time the ball is snapped until a tackle or incompletion only 5-10 seconds may have elapsed. Everything else is administration, huddles and lining up. In basketball, a shot happens in the blink of an eye. Certainly less than a second and plays don’t run more than 10. Everything else is the move, the dribble, the pick, the pass, the fakes, the screens, so how long does a player have to play defense?
In football, the pocket begins to collapse after 5 seconds and the quarterback has to make a play, risk an interception or get sacked. In basketball, play great 5 Second Defense* and the same thing happens. After getting the ball a player generally shoots or passes within 5 seconds. If he doesn’t the referee will make a “closely guarded” call and give you the ball. It’s simple. Play great 5 Second Defense! After 5 seconds, don’t go for the block or steal. You have already done your job. You have forced the ball handler into a bad position, bad shot or a bad pass. Your teammates will rebound or steal the ball. Your job is to box out or become the outlet on the ensuing fast break.
To make 5 Second Defense work best you must closely guard the ball handler as soon as he crosses half court, after 5 seconds something has to happen. He wont shoot – he’s 30-40 feet from the basket. He’ll change direction, but probably not to where he wants to go – you must stay with him! He’ll want to keep the ball and get into a scoring position – Don’t let it happen. He’ll want to run a play – disrupt it. He’ll pass the ball but the pass is likely to be one which gives a defender the opportunity to steal the ball. Never allow a ball handler to take a triple threat position. Don’t let him face the basket and close immediately if he does or picks up the dribble.
Referees will begin a 5 second count if you closely guard. The rules say closely guarded is within 6 feet but in practice, most referees don’t begin the count until your defensively active and close enough to touch the ball handler. Remember, the count ends if the ball handler gets his head and shoulders past you. A visible counts add pressure on the ball handler which will make your job easier. It will force the ball handler to make a Mental Error (ME). He will take a bad shot, make a poor pass or turn the ball over all because you played great 5 Second Defense.
Your teammates must play 5 Second Defense also. They cannot leave their men uncovered. They must make very effort to prevent a pass and make a steal. They cannot let the other team run a play. If your team plays great defense for the first 5 seconds after half court, they will significantly improve on steals and turnovers. Consider it a sort of 5 Second Press on every play.
Of course, 5 Second Defense begins again if a pass is made or shot is taken but because you played great defense, you’re probably on offense now!
*Okay, you may have to stay with your man more than 5 seconds. Play tough defense as long as you have to!