Turnovers can cause sleepless nights for coaches

Turnovers give coaches nightmares and gray hairs.

After watching many basketball games this season, I’ve seen more turnovers than a bakery puts out in a week.

The definition of a basketball turnover is when an offensive  player does something that doesn’t allow their team to attempt a field goal or foul shot and their opponents gain possession of the ball.

There are two kinds of turnovers. The first is when the defense forces the offense to lose the ball and the defense gets the ball.

Defenses cause turnovers by: forcing a bad pass, stealing the ball, causing a muff or fumble; forcing a five-second throw-in violation; forcing a five-second closely guarded violation; forcing a 10 second backcourt violation and forcing a backcourt violation.

The second type of turnovers are unforced turnovers usually caused by poor basketball decision making by players on offense. These turnovers include: a careless bad pass, fumble or muff; a  technical foul; a player-control foul; a team control foul; a three-second lane violation; a five-second closely guarded violation and violating the throw-in rule by stepping on the line. Other unforced turnovers that occur are: a foul shooter violating a free-throw attempt; lane violations by one or two offensive players on the free-throw lane line; a traveling call; a double dribbling call; and stepping on the out-of-bounds line.

Often, there are more unforced turnovers than those forced by the defense and they can be limited by making better basketball decisions, thinking before they act. When players use their skills and fundamentals, rather than just relying on their talent, they are less prone to turnovers. Players who face the basket immediately after receiving the ball and read the situation and think first before they act commit fewer turnovers than players who don’t follow this strategy.

A faster-paced game will also create more chances for turnovers.

Another frequent source for turnovers by many players is when a player with the ball leaves their feet and doesn’t shoot the ball. This causes turnovers because their teammates expect their teammate to shoot, not pass the ball.

They often make bad passes, commit a player control foul or have to throw up a bad shot because they must get rid of the ball before returning to the floor or be called for traveling.

A good way to eliminate this type of turnover is to constantly remind players to not leave their feet with the ball unless they are going to shoot.

Some teams keep a mistake chart which has the listed above turnovers that individual players make. We charted these mistakes off game tapes and our players had to do three up-and-back line drills dribbling the ball for the unforced turnovers and did one for turnovers caused by the defense.

Turnovers are part of the game, but they can be limited by making better decisions. That also may help coaches sleep a bit better and slow the onset of gray hair.