Dealing with a Ball Hog on Your Basketball Team

A ball hog — a player who hangs onto the ball for extended periods of time and always looks to shoot rather than pass — creates real problems for the entire team. For instance, a ball hog ignores open teammates who have worked to get into position to score, which undermines team morale and kills your sense of unity. As a basketball coach, you have to find a way to deal with this.

If you have a ball hog on your team, you may get frustrated and not know what to do. Here are a couple ways a player can earn the unwanted ball-hog label and actions you can take to help him ditch it:

  • He's unaware: Perhaps the youngster isn't aware that he's hanging onto the ball too much. He watches older players who score a lot and wants to emulate them. Maybe he's new to basketball or hasn't been involved in any type of team setting before, and he needs to get accustomed to how sharing the ball makes for a stronger and more effective unit. Go with drills that emphasize passing to help your players break their habit of dribbling and shooting every time down the floor. You can even hold no-dribble scrimmages, where players can only pass and shoot the ball.
  • He receives mixed instructions: Perhaps the child receives conflicting instructions from his dad or mom at home. A parent may be telling the child that he's the team's best shooter and that he needs to take more shots. How can you tell? If the child seems to be doing everything differently than how you're instructing the team, do some investigating. Ask the child why he isn't listening to your instructions. Perhaps he didn't understand what you were saying.
    If he confesses that he's receiving conflicting instructions, that plops the youngster in confusing territory and forces you to step in. Talk to the child about his responsibility to be a team player and to listen to your instructions, and reinforce to the player's parents that they need to support what you're trying to teach the kids.

If you have a ball hog on your team, take a closer look at your practices, because they may actually be causing some of the problems. During your drills, double check to make sure that you aren't allowing a player to dribble the ball for extended periods of time or to take the majority of the shots. If you notice inequity in your practices, resort to specific types of drills or scrimmages that eliminate opportunities for ball hogs to flourish.

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