The art of an effective closeout
Today we are going to look at how to properly closeout on a jump shooter. This is a crucial skill in college basketball, as the average team last season shot around 19 3’s per game. There are several keys to a good, fundamental closeout:
– Cover ground quickly
– Stay on balance
– Challenge shot with opposite hand
Let’s go to the video to see a bad, average and good closeout.
I think we can all see why this is such a poor closeout but let’s break down all the defender does wrong here. Let’s skip the part where he gets caught behind a screen and talk solely on his effort after that. Wayne Ellington was an excellent three point shooter so I can understand why he would have wanted to challenge the shot. However, he flies in off balance, leaving him susceptible for an easy shot fake, one dribble past him and an open jumper. The worst thing he did was left his feet: this gave the defender a chance to shot fake and go by him, left the defender prone to a foul and lastly, left him in horrible defensive rebounding position.
A better option there would have been to closeout to his right side and get a hand up to challenge. This would have caused a contested jumper or a drive to the baseline, where he as help. A defensive lapse to say the least. Lucky for him, Ellington missed the pull up jumper.
There is only one thing I see wrong with this closeout and that is that the defender left his feet. If the shooter would have pump faked, he easily could have got three free throws. Onto the good, which is that the defender made it from the painted area to the corner very quickly and challenged with the proper hand (in this case, the left).
The reason for challenging with the opposite hand of the shooter is simple: It is the hand that will be closer to challenging the shot. It’s a very elementary concept but many defenders instinctively challenge with their own dominant hand, instead of the opposite hand from the shooter. It’s an important concept to drive home to better challenge jump shots.
The takeaway from this clip is the benefit from staying on balance. By not leaving his feet but still getting a hand up, the defender is able to contest a shot while taking away the other options from the offensive player (driving, drawing a foul). This is a very good closeout that ends in forcing a pass away from the basket.
Closing out effectively is a concept that can be easily mastered through repetition and discipline. By adhering to the principles of a good closeout, your team can become exponentially tougher on defense.