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5-Second play

This is an excerpt from WBCA Offensive Plays & Strategies by Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.

5-Second Play

Mary Taylor Cowles



  • To get the ball in a playmaker’s hands with five to seven seconds left on the clock.
  • To get a quick two- or three-pointer.

When to Use

  • When the opponent is holding back on defense in fear of fouling.
  • At the end of a game.

Key Personnel

Your passer must be intelligent and make good choices throwing the ball in. Your 1 is your best ball handler. Your two best shooters are at the far end of the court.


5 runs the baseline upon receiving the ball from the referee. 1 pops toward the ball and then uses 2’s screen to get open on the wide wing. 5 hits 1 immediately, if open. If 1 is not open, 2 pops after the screen and catches the ball. 1 then plants and cuts down the middle of the floor to receive 2’s pass. Depending on which defender helps on 1, 1 passes to 3 or 4 for the open three (figure 1).


If only a two-pointer is needed, a shooter can set up on the block and screen for the other shooter running to the opposite wing. The low-block shooter pins her defender in anticipation of the pass or to be in rebounding position (figure 2).

Points of Emphasis

This play is usually run at the end of a tight game when emotions are high. The 5 needs to take care not to rush the inbounds pass. The 1 and 2 should not rush the play. It takes only a few seconds to get the ball upcourt. The more time 5 can wait to ensure everyone is lined up, the better the play works. Coaches can help by having a substitution at the table on a dead-ball situation. If the game is tied or the offense is down by 3 points or less, the opposing coach is probably screaming at players not to foul. The 1 takes advantage of this by being very aggressive once the ball is in her hands. The two guards set up their defenders by running two to three steps opposite of where they really want to go.

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WBCA Offensive Plays & Strategies

WBCA Offensive Plays & Strategies

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