Updated: Jul 1, 2021
A lot of players seem to have problems with turning the basketball over. In order to turn the ball over less, you need to be a student of the game, relax, and have an ability to read defenses and situations.
In this article I will be going over simple tricks and tips required, in order to drop your turnovers, and help you make smarter decisions in general.
1. Student Of The Game
One of the biggest causes for turning the ball over in basketball, is not being able to understand situations and defenses.
What I mean by this is understanding, what spots are going to be open on the court, and what spots are not going to be open.
For example, lets say you are playing against a fullcourt press or halfcourt press, by understanding the holes in the defenses and week spots, you are better able to know where to go with the basketball, and where not to go.
Studying the game will also help on drives to the hoop, as this will allow you to know when and where you can attack the defense. While also putting you in better positions to score and not turn the ball over.
This will also help calm your nerves and allow for better decision making when the moment arises in games.
How To Do This: A great way of doing this is looking up different defenses, and how to beat them. You can do this on Youtube, or even better, if you are a high school player and have access to film, studying the other team before hand which in turn can give you a leg up on your competition, and reduce your turnovers in the process.
2. Staying Calm
A lot of turnovers I see that come from players, are turnovers that come stem from fear, or nervousness.
What I mean by this is a lot of players, turn the ball over and just throw it away when a fearful situation arises.
By understanding this you can start to make decisions based on logical and situational awareness instead of fear.
Remember your going to have turnovers hear and there, every player does, it is important though not to have that clog your thinking. Basketball has 100s if not thousands of plays during the course of a game, every mistake you make you can make up for.
Some simple ways of reducing your stress and anxiety when it comes to turnovers, is simply slowing down. While I agree it is good to play basketball with a little pace and rhythm, there is a balance to be had.
For example, even though Russel Westbrook is a terrific player, sometimes he can get in trouble with his turnovers. A lot of this has to do with him being out of control in certain situations. Now I am not saying Russel Westbrook is a bad player to emulate your game off, but just keep in mind ,playing too aggressively can backfire at times especially when it comes to turnovers.
Another great way of staying calm in basketball to reduce your turnovers, is mindfulness, while it might sound a little woo woo, there have been some great studies and evidence that it can help and aid athlete performance.
Examples of mindfulness practice for basketball
Visualization- This can be a great tool for basketball players especially when it comes to turnovers.
This practice can give you extra assurance, and a good goal to chase after during the game.
A lot of players whether its because of nerves or fear, go into a game, playing not to lose instead of playing to win. This can lead to a lot of turnovers because of the fear that can arise going into the game. By visualizing you can go into a game with a more positive mindset, and attitude.
Here below is a great video explaining visualization for basketball players.
Contemplation and meditation
What I mean by contemplation and meditation, is having a simple exercise you can go into, to be more in the moment and present during a game.
For example, lets say you get nervous during the game, and you sense fear, and anxiety arise, to get out of your head, and not over think to much, try and focus on one thing or point, like your breathe, maybe even a specific point on your body.
A reason this can work so great for basketball players and reducing turnovers, is because it allows you too dissociate yourself from your negative thinking, and enter into a flow state. Which in turn will allow you to have less turnovers, and play better overall while also playing smarter.
Check out the video below to help you understand the flow state and how that can help your game and reduce your turnovers.
3. Know Who You Are Playing Against
A big reason I see a lot of turnovers in basketball, is because players do not understand the type of players they are playing.
For example if your a playing a really aggressive player, who likes to reach in, then you should understand dribbling a lot on them is probably not going to be the smartest idea or strategy to implement.
An easy way of gauging this is either watching them before you play them. Or adjusting in the middle of the game or while you are playing them.
While it might sound like a simple tip, a lot of players will try the same thing over and over, and not make the proper adjustments that will be required in the game.
This tends to be most important, when a double team occurs, or when a player picks up there dribble and needs to pivot around.
By having better footwork, this will allow you to pivot out and make the right play.
A thing you must understand in basketball when it comes to double teams, and being stuck in your dribble is not to freak out. Even if there is a lot of pressure, remember you did not turn the ball over yet, the only way that your going to turn it over is if you make a dumb decision.
Here is a great video below, explaining how to improve your pivoting when it comes to basketball that will help reduce your turnovers and make better decisions.
5. Becoming A Better Passer
One of the easiest ways to reduce your turnovers in basketball, is simply becoming a better more accurate passer.
You can make all the right decisions, and know where to go with the ball, but if you do not have the ability, to get the ball there, then it will result in turnovers and less scoring opportunities for your team.
Becoming a better passer does not only include, throwing the ball with the correct passing, but how and when to throw the ball.
For example, some passes might require more arc, where some passes might require a bounce pass, or even chess pass. By understanding these things you can get the ball in right place, and prevent turnovers.
For more information on how to improve your passing check out the link here
6. Making The Simple Play
While I love a flashy play as much as the next guy, sometimes the best pass is the most simple pass.
This all comes down to you as a player. But every player should know the risk and reward of a given situation.
For example knowing when to make the pass and when not to make the pass, and how likely it is that the pass will be a success.
To many turnovers are players trying to force it, and it really is simple most of the time. The open man, is more than likely, the player you should pass to in almost every situation.
7. Being Stronger With The ball
This is a vital tip, especially for players driving to the basket, or a player who you finds themselves in the paint.
Here are a couple simple tricks and tips to turn the ball over less in the paint and be stronger with the ball.
Arm bar- This is a great move and technique for players who are driving to the rim, a reason for this is because an arm bar keeps your defender away from you and protects the ball from players swiping in and trying to steal the ball.
It acts like a stiff arm would in football. So if you find yourself getting stripped when driving to the hoop then try the arm bar out.
Two Hands On The Ball- While I do not always recommend this for basketball players, if you notice your are getting stripped in the paint or closer to the basket, then this tip can work for you.
This does not always mean you have to have two hands on the ball, but it is just an example of a certain mindset you need to have when your that close to the basket.
Just squeezing it harder, and realizing that you need to keep the basketball in your hands is the kinda mindset you need to have to keep the ball in your hands when your in the paint.
8. Using Your Body
Using your body is an excellent way to handle pressure defense and reduce your turnovers.
One simple way of doing this is keeping your body in between you and your opponent.
Especially against aggressive defenders this can be a great technique since, this can draw fouls.
Another great part about this technique is you do not have to be the fastest player in the world to be effective at this. Magic Johnson was a great example of utilizing this technique.
Smaller guards would try a pressure up on him and even though he was not the fastest he was still able to keep the ball safe and not turn the ball over.
9. Learn How To Beat Traps
Traps are one of the ways that opposing teams are going to try and force a turnover.
So in order to reduce your turnovers your going to need to be able to handle them effectively, and efficiently.
Stay Calm- One of the most important tips when experiencing a trap is to stay calm. Just because you got trapped does not mean you have turned the ball over yet.
Utilize Backward Dribbling- A lot of traps can be mitigated by taking dribbles backwards. If there are two guys on you, then your open spot will be behind you. This will give you and your team more time to cut and get the ball out of your hands.
Just make sure to not get trapped in the corners of the court, since you will have less room to get out of there, and this will make passing angles much harder.
Keep your head up- Realizing when your getting trapped, that means someone on your team is wide open. So by keeping your head up this will allow you to have the vision in order to get the ball to your teammate.
Attack the slower defender- Try and look at a trap as attacking one defender instead of 2.
A lot of traps will happen in pick and rolls where the center and guard will come up and double team. By attacking the slower defender you can get around him easier and put your team in a great position to score.
For more information on how to blow by your defender click here
Here is another great video that shows effective ways to attack traps so you can reduce your turnovers in these types of situations.
10. Know your limits
While it not be the most fun thing to admit at times, it is something every player should know at some level. This kind of goes into my point about making the simple play.
If there is a clogged lane and multiple defenders, or you do not have a high probability of making that play, then do not make that play simple as that. Knowing yourself and your limits will reduce your turnovers and make yourself a better player as a whole.
11. Follow Through
There are two different types of turnovers in basketball. Turnovers where you were aggressive and trying to make a good play, and passive turnovers, where you were not attacking the rim, and made a mistake out of fear or doubt.
What i mean by following through is that as a basketball player we are all going to be in circumstances that are not going to be ideal. So as a player if you find yourself in a situation like that you might as well be aggressive with it and try to make a play.
For example if you are a player who is driving to the hoop and you go up, and realize there is two guys contesting you, instead of passing it to the other team, you might as well go strong, into that and see if you can draw a foul.
I am not saying do not make the right play, but if your in a bad circumstance you might as well go all out and be aggressive about it.
12. Keeping Your Dribble
This is a simple tip I think all players should live by.
Remember the moment you jump in the air, or pick up your dribble, you are now not a threat on offense.
This is important to know, because when the defense sees a player who is not a threat or a player who just picked up their dribble, they will attack and try to force a turnover.
So by keeping your dribble you can stay aggressive, and attack the defense, instead of them attacking you.
Pro tip: Even if you do commit a turnover as a player, always, always, always, get back, and try to make a play. We all make mistakes in basketball, and at the end of the day its not always what happened that matters as a player, but how you get it back for your team.
Conclusion: As you can see there are a lot of fixes and tips, you can make to your game to reduce your turnovers.
I'm curious to know if any players have any tricks or tips they used to reduce their turnovers in basketball?
As always thank you for reading and keep hooping my friends.