Turnovers – How to Teach Your Team to Avoid them on Offense, and Forcing them on Defense

Basketball is one of the biggest games in the world that is played at different levels. It is a good hobby activity, and other people play it as a profession. The skills of playing basketball are diverse, and players can always improve on their skills no matter how good they are at the sport.

The movement, player positions, and tactics can be developed to make a team stronger for better performance. There are people in a team who may be slower compared to the others, and these are the people to be targeted when making improvements in your team. Youth basketball coaching can be easy when you focus on the following areas.

If you have been coaching youth basketball for a while, or even have any familiarity with the sport, you probably know that turnovers should be avoided at all cost while on offense. You also know that causing turnovers on defense is the result of a well-played defense.

Now, before talking about how and why turnovers can cost you games, it is essential to understand precisely what turnovers are and how you can ensure they do not work against you.

Understanding Turnovers

A turnover is a situation that occurs when the team with the ball loses possession to the opposing team. Now, this can happen as a result of a steal, a bad pass or an offensive foul. A turnover also occurs due to stepping out-of-bounds or an offensive violation like traveling or other violations in that category.

Why Turnovers are Bad for your Offense

As a basketball coach, you already know that it is almost impossible to avoid turnovers entirely. Your aim should be to keep turnovers at a minimum level because this will definitely win games for you.

Before talking about the methods you can adopt to keep turnovers low, we should look at some of the implications of allowing too many turnovers. As a good coach, you should train your players to value possession.

Every possession should lead to an attack, and every attack gives you an opportunity to get a good shot. A turnover results in both a lost possession and a wasted opportunity. Again, a turnover hands the initiative to the opposing team, and if you have too many, makes it very hard for you and your team to win the game.

Catching-Receiving Turnovers

This one is easy to nail down; if you do not catch the ball, the result will be a turnover. Tell the passing players to pass the ball the right way so that the receiver gets it. We can break this down into the five simple steps below:

Catch the Ball with Two Hands

Train your players to catch the ball with two hands because this is the right way to ensure they do not lose the ball. Now, some players might try the stylish maneuver of catching the ball with just one hand.

The problem here is that sometimes the receiver does not catch the ball and this leads to a turnover. If you are coaching youth basketball, your duty is to teach the players to do what works and avoid taking unnecessary risks.

Catch the Ball in the Right Position

The perfect move for the person receiving the pass is to catch the ball in the triple-threat position. This way, the player can see the court, the cutters and the defense. The player can also look into the post and decide on the smartest move to make with the ball.

Ball and Feet in the Air

The best way to catch the ball is to jump and pluck it out of the sky then pivot and increase the momentum immediately.

Get to the Ball

Sometimes, the receiver has to choose between getting the ball and giving up a vantage position. The choice here is simple. Just get to the ball because if the ball is lost the position you were trying so hard to keep may not mean anything at the end of the day.

Be Flexible

It pays to have a target in mind when you are about to pass the ball, but you are not on autopilot here. If your teammate is not ready to receive the ball, simply do not pass the ball.

Ball Handling and Supplying

There are key players in your team who are best at dribbling and serving the others with the ball. Ensure that the players are well supported in each and every strategy you have for the game. Having all the players in their positions and at a safe distance to support the dribbler will ensure that the flow of the game is on your side. Movement of players that don’t have the ball is key.

There will also be good passing and shooting. This way, the opponents will have a hard time taking the ball from the dribbler who has the support of other team members. This strategy will also be leaving the opponents open in every strike.

Travelling Violation Turnovers

Perimeter Players-Triple Threat Position

Teach your players the importance of proper positioning. In fact, your perimeter players should aim to catch the ball in the triple threat position. In addition, you should teach your players a good shot-fake and a quick dribble move so that they will not lose the ball.

Use the Jump Stop

Teach your players to use the jump stop as they catch the ball and at the end of a dribbling move. This way, they control the ball and make better decisions.

Post Players

Teach your players proper post play so that they will use the right footwork without losing the ball. If they are tall, teach them ways they can use their size to their advantage and dominate the boards. Excellent post play reduces the chances of missed shots, a forced shot or a blocked shot. Play low and wide, use both hands, and embrace contact down low.

Teach your players not to be afraid to take your time down low. Teach your guards moves to help them change direction and speed more effectively.Effective scorers are usually the players that have an incredible ability to change speeds quickly and fake out their opponents. A player that moves at the same speed at all times is easier to guard, especially post players.

Post players should be deceptive when the work to get open, even before they get the ball. It is imperative that coach teaches post players how to get open.

Use both hands at all times. The best thing a coach can do is encourage players to practice weak hand post moves. Doing so will result in post players being unstoppable on both sides of the basket.

And last but definitely not least, teach your players that good offensive rebounders refuse to be boxed out.

Offensive Fouls

Avoid the Charging Foul

The best way to avoid the charging foul is to have good vision and take in the position of the defense before you make your move. Do not push or bump into defenders on the opposing team. Use the jump stop, and you will avoid offensive fouls.

Post player offensive foul

The best way to avoid post player offensive fouls is to use great footwork and shot fakes. Do not hook the defender and do not bump the defenders on the opposing team. Use the right moves to maneuver and you will always keep the ball.

Forcing Turnovers on Defense

We’ve all heard the saying: the best defense is a good offense. Although this may hold true in some cases, a well-rounded team, on both defense and offense, tends to have the true advantage.

A strong defense takes the pressure off of your offense, and due to turnovers, it gives your team more time with the ball. There are many basketball drills you can practice to develop a good defense.

The positioning in defense has to have a strong wall to counter every attack of the opponent team. You can analyze the strategies of your opponents, and know their strike from within the first three minutes of the game. Take notes on their best offensive players, and strategically match your defensive players up, for a solid man to man defense.

After observing their plays, align your team to fit their strengths. Mark their strong players with the best defenders and ensure their offense is vulnerable with proper matchups. Here are some strategies for strategizing a good defense.


Check for their weak players on the other team and exploit the chances they will give you.  It is a good area to teach your players to look for weaknesses in the opposing team and their strategies as well. With this, you and your players will be able to create patterns and force turnovers over and over for the opposing team.

Know Your Best Shooter(s).

The players who determine the flow of the game are the high-scoring players. The team depends on them very much for any win. Know who your opponents best shooters are, and have assigned your team’s positions accordingly. Assign roles and positions to your players, so they are in the best possible position for their skill set, and in the best position to stop the other team from scoring.

Offensively, if you have one or more players that can shoot, encourage them to do so whenever they’re open.

Capitalize on Offensive Fouls

When playing in different teams, your team may experience playing against different tempers and player styles. You might that some teams play more aggressively than others, even to the point of what some call “playing dirty”.

Rather than depend on the referees to call fouls in your favor, train your team to set their feet on defense. This will likely draw a charge, an offensive foul, and result in a turnover for the opposing team. However, it’s important to also teach your players to protect themselves when doing so, as taking a charge can cause them injury if it isn’t done correctly.

Teamwork and Playcalling

The best way to win any game is improving on your teamwork and communication skills. There are basketball drills that will need all the team members to play a part in orchestrating. Informing the team on the strategy to be taken and assigning roles will ensure the play is well implemented.

Coordinated gameplay will also disorient the formation of the opponent giving you the upper hand. Ensure all the team players are well-practiced with the plays you call and stress the importance of “playing smart” by knowing the gameplay material.


Adaption is key. Teams must be able to play a balanced offense and defense on the court. The strategies a coach puts in play can make all the difference. Know your player’s strengths and weaknesses as well as the opposing teams, and use that knowledge to plan accordingly, and prepare your team for every game.


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