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Limiting TOs - Winning the Possession Battle

At the end of the day, limiting turnovers on the offensive side of the floor will have a huge impact on our defense. Turnovers lead to the easiest run out opportunities for the opposing team. Ball security and limiting turnovers is key to having a defense capable of holding the other team far below their scoring average.

Within the Building Toughness Clinic I also discuss a ball toughness series to work on both our pressuring defense and ball security offense. Our team needs to be able to handle the pressure and physicality we want to dole out. The ball toughness series starts with one of the simplest drills but one of the most important; being able to pivot securely and efficiently.

In this drill the offensive players work on properly pivoting to see the floor (specifically the coach under the basket) while also working on their pivot footwork. The key being protecting the pivot foot from pressure. When a player pivots backwards, exposing their pivot leg, we call this a dead leg and want to smother and straddle, “kill the pivot.”

In doing so, the offensive player finds himself off balance and unable to regain any clean space. On the flip side, if that offensive player had pivoted into the defense (keeping his pivot leg behind), now he/she would be able to pivot back to a squared up stance into space. But if the pivot foot is being smothered in front of the ball, they can only pivot into the defender.

In the above drill we force the offense and defense to work for 8 seconds. This represents a situation that would be harder than game-like; if you play in a league that enforces a 5-second closely guarded violation.

We then progress to other drills including another favorite, 12 Seconds of Hell. The set up is the same, players around the perimeter and coach in the middle. However the offense will pivot for 4 seconds, dribble for 4 seconds and then pivot again for 4 seconds. During this time the defense is working on tracing the ball, killing pivots, stunting at dribbles and smothering a dead ball. The offense is working on protecting pivots, keeping vision on the coach, sweeping the ball, and handling dribble pressure.

These are just the building blocks of Ball Toughness. If you want to dive into the entire ball toughness series, check out the Building a Culture of Toughness Clinic at

The game will always be interconnect, offense effects defense and vice versa. Turnovers on the offensive end will stress our scramble and recovery defense in very challenging ways. Our ability to limit turnovers on the offensive end, by creating disciplined players who can handle pressure, will go a long way in making sure our defense has a chance to defend.

See you next time.

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