Bo Ryan's Secret To Better Passing and Reducing Turnovers

I couldn't believe it when I saw it. My brother Jeff wrote about this key to better passing back in 2007! However, we don't know if it's been mentioned more than once or twice since.

And this key to better passing is extremely important because it reduces your team's turnovers. And fewer turnovers has a tremendous correlation to more wins!

In the book, Basketball on Paper (which is basketball's version of Moneyball and an excellent book), Dean Oliver identified what he called the "Four Factors of Basketball Success".

  1. Shooting (40%)
  2. Turnovers (25%)
  3. Rebounding (20%)
  4. Free Throws (15%)

Turnovers are #2 on the list!!!

First off, this little secret was from the legendary coach Bo Ryan. Coach Ryan was a master at reducing turnovers for his teams.

Overall, at the University of Wisconsin, Ryan's teams averaged 10.0 turnovers per game in 494 games.

Out of 14 seasons, Bo Ryan's team ranked in the top 6 nationally in turnover percentage 9 times!!!

Let's remember there are 350+ teams each season. That means he was in the top 98% of teams for 9 out of 14 seasons!


So what did Ryan teach for passing?

Here's what Jeff wrote in his original article...

You simply establish some team rules and drill the following concepts in ALL your practices:

    Rule 1 - If you want the ball, give a hand target. If you are going to change direction, drop the hand target and give a new target.

    Rule 2 - No hand target, no pass!!

It's as simple as that. This is a subtle way to establish non-verbal cues with your basketball team.

If you drill these rules long enough, you'll find that players make more accurate passes and reduce turnovers.


To take things a step further, I also suggest emphasizing a couple of other related passing concepts:

  • Your hand targets should be away from the body.

  • Always pass away from the defense.

  • Use pass fakes, and make them believable!

  • Always catch the ball with two hands.

  • Most times when you catch the ball in the front court, chin the ball and get in triple threat position.



Resources for Better Passing and Offense

Don Kelbick's Motion Offense - Videos and ebooks

Transition Offense and the Four-Second Fast Break

21 Basketball Passing Drills



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




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