What Do You Think are "Game Changers"?

By Ken Sartini

What does everyone here think that their game changers are?

There were two that I felt we could control...

1- Take a charge every time you get the opportunity.

2- Every loose ball is ours (I know the Chicago Bulls refer to them as 50-50 balls).

I would say that offensive rebounds is another game changer but we were typically shorter than most teams so that would be a tough one for us.

Deflections and steals are another.... but the first two we had control of those.

I would be interested in what you think? Please share what you think your "game changers" are below in the comments...

What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...


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Brian Sass says:
7/18/2014 at 5:45:39 PM

For me it is turnovers: ours and theirs.

You can't commit turnovers and have an offensive possession come up with 0 shot attempts.

Especially deadly momentum changers are live-ball, front-court turnovers. I do not care how hard you work on transition defense, give the ball up there and it's almost always an automatic lay-up, or a foul, or both.

At the same time, you force turnovers, make your opponent come away with no shot attempt, you have the advantage.

You get a steal/turnover in their frontcourt, you are guaranteed a lay-up, a foul, or both.

Those plays are disheartening to be on the receiving end of, uplifting to get. They can quiet your crowd, or send it into a frenzy. To me, they are the ultimate momentum changer.


Pete Dixon says:
7/18/2014 at 4:20:39 PM

1 -- Taking a charge
2 -- Blocking a shot and controlling the tip (Bill Russell style)
3 -- Dagger treys
4. -- Anything exciting the kids...Ex -- a well executed back door


Ken Sartini says:
12/20/2013 at 12:40:22 PM

Great job Doug...... you turned a negative into a positive ..... played to your strengths.

I am sure that Jeff & Joe appreciate your kind words.


Doug Stone says:
12/20/2013 at 10:54:18 AM

I am coaching 7th and 8th grade boys this year. We are a very vertically challenged team this year. Our game changer this season was defense. We focused on stopping the other team from scoring then taking that stop and fast breaking the other way. We rebounded well and scored a lot of baskets on fast breaks, sometimes lay-ups sometimes a short jumper. The boys worked hard as we just finished our season 12-0. I want to thank Breakthrough Basketball, I used a lot of tips and ideas from your site.


David Ashman says:
12/20/2013 at 12:52:20 AM

My 2 things that are game are game changes are:

1. The 50/50 ball is a must. Winning disputed balls and rebounds at either end is a must. Its probably also a really good indicator of attitude. If they players are not winnnig the hard ball, then they are probably not putting in 100% on the court.

2. Making baskets on the 1st attempt. Either from Lay-ups or Standing Shots, if the ball status moves from scoring attempt to 50/50 contested, then the opposition is back in the game.


Ken Sartini says:
12/19/2013 at 3:01:30 PM

Thanks for all the suggestions coaches... its always good when someone adds a thing or two to the conversation and articles.

The younger they are, the easier you need to make it. I have seen some Varsity teams that cant execute the offense.

YOUNG = Fundamentals and Fun


Jessica Z says:
12/19/2013 at 12:05:32 PM

I have been coaching boys/girls for the last 4 years ranging from 7th grade and down to 4th.

All the teams are "young" I have found teaching them to transition from Offense to Defense makes a HUGE difference. From their working on the fundamentals of Defense (I try to teach that we play good strong solid defense with your feet first, everything else will fall into place such as steals and more technical stuff, when the time is right)
Also being able to run the offense. I don't look for perfection at this age group but I do try to stress the importance of GOOD SCREENS, lastly boxing out.
Another one is teaching them to be more aggressive and going after every dead ball.
I try to use the idea of K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Silly) with these age groups b/c I find that they will get overwhelmed with too much information.


Coach Scott von Stade says:
12/19/2013 at 11:11:16 AM

I enjoy and use the information from Breakthrough. Keep up the great work. The two actions that we can control for my team is 1) Turnovers- crisp passing using fakes to see who's moving on Defense and patience on the press to not just panic pass.
2) Shot selection- face the bucket and the ol' forgotten triple threat, kids launch from the strangest angles and reduce their shot success.


Ken Sartini says:
12/19/2013 at 10:33:59 AM

The key to success is having a fundamentally sound team.... its something you have to work on every day.

Remember, my team was a boys varsity, thats why we practiced the 3 ball. I would not recommend that for young kids. Occasionaly you will find a kid that can shoot it, but you have to be careful that he/she is not ruining their form.

When my kids got on the floor, the first thing they had to do was to do some FORM shooting... a gentle reminder about shooting the ball correctly.

There is a lot more to the game than the 3 ball. Kudos for you VM, teaching m2m is great.. the teams that your kids will feed into will be better because of that.


VMI04 says:
12/19/2013 at 9:13:11 AM

I coach 6th grade girls and have a very quick team this year. Our game changer is the fast break, which we work on in practice with lots of passing drills and 2 on 1 or other "man down" drills. (see the Four Second Fast Break video from BTBB - thanks for a great product!) We also work on layups and shooting at every practice for at least 15-20 minutes. As a result, we are the highest scoring team in our grade level so far this season.

I have also found that what we have excelled at is Man to Man defense - thanks Jim Huber! Since most of our opponents play zone, we really throw a curve ball at them when we come out playing man. The passes that are normally open in a zone are easy pickings for our defense.

Having a great season so far!


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