As a coach, one of the things that really burns me up is turnovers. Avery Johnson says he looks at the FTs stats first to see how his team is playing. For me, the first thing I look for on the stat sheet is our own turnovers. Even on running teams, I've always been a guy that emphasized controlled speed rather than uninhibited madness.

I watched the Orlando Summer Pro league action yesterday between the Pacers and the Magic and in the first half, the Pacers had turned the ball over 10 or so times. If I was the coach of the Pacers, at halftime, they'd hear an earful from me about playing under control. Here are a couple of the bad ones,

Playing Tough with the Ball:

I watched a coaching video the other day, Jim Blaine's Playing Tough with the Basketball. The whole video talked about practice drills, concepts, on how to reduce your turnovers. The video can be basically summarized in these 4 concepts,

1. Catch the ball into triple threat (be boss)
2. Use pass fakes
3. Ball in the air, feet in the air to catch
4. Never make decisions while in the air

In the video, we can see 2 concepts which were not followed. The first clip showed what happens when you jump in the air without making a decision on what you want to do. Just because Steve Nash can do it, doesn't mean that it's good fundamentals. You never jump into the air unless you know what you will do.

In the second clip, the ball-handler could've made 1 good pass fake to get a little separation between him and his defender. Instead he panicked and threw the ball away. Fake high, then pass low, or vice versa.

The other 2 concepts. Ball in the air, feet in the air to catch. Some coaches don't really emphasize this, but it really helps for the next point which is catch the ball and go into triple threat. It's much easier to get into triple threat if you catch the ball in a 2 foot jump stop. Try it yourself... Square up to the basket in triple threat is so important. Jim Blaine borrows a Dick Bennett concept of "Be Boss" which means triple threat.


Teams that are loose with the ball, just watch their fundamentals. I see a lot of jumping in the air to pass, standing straight up with the ball on the hip, or my pet peeve is kids that don't even make eye contact with a person to pass to, they'll just throw the ball in a random direction and hope that their teammate can read their mind.

Remember, it doesn't matter how good your other skills are, shooting, driving, defense, etc.. If you're team is giving the ball away, then you won't even get a chance at the basket.

As we are well into summer now, some more skill development video help. Check out Mike Lee's DVD on Developing the Complete Player. Mike Lee is an AAU coach and director of basketball operations for Wisconsin Playmakers. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's Basketball Forum to talk hoops with other coaches.