This phrase and concept is so important that it is used as at title rather than as an explanation under “One-on-one” or “Taking the shot.” The concept is very simple to understand, but few good players understand the importance of it.
If you decide to go one-on-one, do it immediately after you get the ball, or don’t do it at all. There is a very good reason for this. The longer you hold the ball and look around or jockey for position, the more time the defense has to get in good help-position to stop you and clog the lane. If there is an opening to go one-on-one, your best chance is immediately, not after you hold the ball for several seconds.
The same concept applies to taking a shot from outside. If you are free and in your range, take the shot. If you aren’t, don’t take it. But don’t stand there deciding and then shoot. Anytime you have stood there deciding, decide not to shoot. Why? Because tentative shooters are poor shooters. If something about the situation causes your instincts to delay, something about your instincts is likely to disrupt the smooth flow of your shooting motion.
Players shoot at their best when they get the ball, and they know as it comes that they are going to shoot. When this happens, your rhythm is right, and “all systems are go.” But if something about the play makes you reluctant, your rhythm is likely to be off. If you need further proof of this, watch some games. Players who hold the ball and think and decide usually miss.
A good rule to follow is this: when in doubt, pass. Or, if you have held the ball, pass.
Seldom does a team lose for having passed up open shots. You lose by missing shots, by shooting too fast, by taking bad shots, by shooting tentatively. Passing up a shot rarely hurts and often it helps. If ever you pass up a shot and you think, I should have shot that one, your rhythm will be in gear for the next time. When you get the ball, you are very likely to have the confidence and the smooth flow that will enable you to put up your best possible shot.
Most certainly, never hold the ball deciding and then shoot because a fan yells “Shoot!” Make your own decisions. Go one-on-one when it feels right, and take the shot when it feels right. But do it immediately or not at all.
If you are thinking now, But it takes me a while to recognize the situation. I can’t know as soon as I get it what I should do, you are not a good player yet, and you really don’t deserve to be taking shots or going one-on-one. For a team to win, contrary to fan opinion, it is not necessary that each guy be taking shots and going one-on-one.
If you are playing in a league with no shot clock, all you need is a little patience and movement, and eventually one of the team’s best players will get a good shot at the basket. The more you play, the sooner you will recognize situations and be able to decide when you have a good opportunity and when you don’t.
If you are at the stage where you still have to hold the ball and look in order to decide whether or not you have an opportunity, you don’t deserve to be shooting and trying to score yet. You can use yourself better by concentrating on moving to keep your defender busy, screening for your teammates, handling the ball well, playing good defense and rebounding.
The players who take the scoring initiative should be those who know at the instant they get the ball that they have an opportunity. If they do have one, they should take it immediately or not at all.
From Dick’s book Stuff