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How to: Avoid Turnovers


Negating costly mistakes


There are few competitive experiences in basketball that feel more negative than a turnover. Players who have just committed a turnover often hang their heads or feel guilty as they avoid their coaches’ gaze and prepare to be substituted out of the game. This is hardly surprising, as losing the ball off an errant pass or dribble is a serious mistake that reduces your team’s possessions, often resulting in easy baskets and four-point swings on the other end. In order to maximize your playing time, you have to minimize these mistakes.


Stay calm: Panicking is the number one error that players make when faced with intense defensive pressure. Instead of rushing to make a move or to get rid of the ball, it is crucial to remain patient and composed while waiting for opportunities to open up. To facilitate this, it is helpful to recognize the difficulty involved in cleanly stripping a player who has gathered the ball and is able to pivot.


Discipline: A lack of discipline is another common reason for turning the ball over. There is no room for sloppiness on the court, with half-hearted passes and slow, careless ball-handling being prime targets for sharp defensive players. You have to train the same way you want to play, with crisp dribbling moves and passes, instead of employing laidback or risky maneuvers.


Communicate and think ahead: If your team is communicating effectively, you should know where your teammates will be on the floor at any given moment. Being on the same page tactically reduces the need for hesitation. On your part, you should be clear what your options are before you receive the ball, instead of planning your move only when the rock is in your hands.


Learning from mistakes: The easiest way to avoid mistakes is to learn from them. If you are scared and play to avoid mistakes completely, you will be too cautious and unable to contribute on offense. Instead of fearing turnovers, you should actively reflect upon them and study game film to understand why these mistakes were made. In doing so, you will have the opportunity to gain valuable experience and hone your instincts for future encounters.