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Understanding Time, Score and Momentum

basketball, coaching

As coaches our job is to teach and prepare our players, assistant coaches and point guards to play the game.

These three components are vital to understanding larger concepts:

Basketball IQ or ABCs

How many times as a coach do you see your point guard or other players make a play without consideration of time, score or momentum? In fact, Basketball IQ might nearly be defined by the idea of knowing and understanding the value of these three game components.

I found this to be one of the most “profound nuggets” of teaching and coaching the game of basketball, and I found that by making this an emphasis daily in our practices we became better players, made smarter decisions, and won close games that we might not have won in the past. In essence, our Basketball IQ was being built by daily emphasis.

Here are some tips on each part of the concept to emphasize:

1. Time

Use the game clock and the shot clock every day in practice!

  1. 1. Create situations involving time daily. Example: Down two with one minute to play etc.
  2. 2. Run offense with shot clock every day. Get a coach or a manager and train them.
  3. 3. Use situations such as your team needs a two or three, or needs to get to the foul line to score with the clock stopped.
  4. 4. Play one possession games for three minutes with both man-to-man, zone and press/attack situations.
  5. 5. Do the math! Teach your players and point guard basketball math. When there is 2:10 remaining in the game there are roughly three possessions left if all 35 seconds (30 for girls), on the shot clock are used.
  6. 6. Practice two for one situations. Shoot early, score and get the last shot after your opponent shoots.

2. Score

  1. 1. Knowing the score at all times is vital in maintaining, stretching, or building the lead.
  2. 2. The score should always dictates how you play and define shot selection
  3. 3. Create these situations in practice playing mini-scenarios or games of 30 seconds, one minute, 2 minute, 3 minute, 5 minute and quarter games, with various up by-or down by-situations.

3. Momentum

  1. 1. How do you play when you are up?
  2. 2. How do you play when you are down?
  3. 3. How do you keep or stretch leads?
  4. 4. How do you catch up? Scoring with the clock stopped.
  5. 5. How is shot selection influenced by momentum or being ahed or behind?

If you want to build Basketball IQ, the key is to teach time, score and momentum daily. In addition, create accountability in these scenarios for winners and losers.


Christian Aurand is the founder of Blueprint Basketball and has coached high school basketball for 21 years, and coached at the AAU level for eight years. He currently teaches Social Studies and serves as Assistant Athletic Director at Simi Valley High School in Simi Valley, California.