Manage turnovers to increase scoring chances
Many coaches talk about picking three or four things that their teams will commit to. Attempting to do everything is an unrealistic goal. While these choices are often based on talent or size, turnover management is something that nearly any program can hang its hat on.
We talked turnovers with former University of Wisconsin men’s head coach Bo Ryan, whose Badgers consistently ranked among the best at limiting turnovers. Asked about his approach to his trademarked ball control, he said, “Your chances of winning are greatly enhanced if you get more shots than your opponent. One way to do that is to reduce turnovers. If you take care of the ball, you can still be successful even if your players don’t shoot as well.”
To reduce turnovers, Ryan emphasized communication, angles, hand targets, eye contact and reading teammates’ movements.
“We also talk about the receiver — not just the passer — and start each and every practice with passing-and-catching drills,” he says. “We also spend time on stance and techniques, like chinning (holding the ball with elbows out) to make it a tougher to get the ball knocked away.”
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Ryan’s players understood the impact of turnovers and coaches reinforced that concept through film.
“After a tough loss, we don’t go right to the final minutes. We’ll look at the early turnovers and say, ‘If we had taken care of the ball here, we wouldn’t have lost the game.'”
Protecting the ball is a factor Ryan said is even more important with today’s faster and longer athletes. Because of the close-outs players can make, he said “the floor is getting smaller.”
“It comes down to what you emphasize, and what you let players get away with in practice,” he said about ball protection. “Turning up the heat in practice gets players ready for the intensity seen in games.”