"My Turn" vs "Our Turn" Basketball Players

by Ryan Thomas
From the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook
"Helping coaches coach better..."

Coach Ryan Thomas trains basketball players, working at Breakthrough Basketball. He is a former college player (Concordia and Central Michigan) with over 13 years of coaching experience, and has trained many youth, high school, college and professional players.

Coach Ryan Thomas
Ryan Thomas

As children grow and experience the world, they learn that it's not all about them. This is very true with basketball players as well.

The best players at low level basketball think the game is all about ME.

The best players at high level basketball know the game is all about US.

One of the greatest players that the game has ever seen is 2-time MVP Steve Nash. Despite his many accolades, Nash never averaged more than 13 shots per game. However, he worked to make an impact on every single play. He focused on getting the ball to the right player at the right time, putting pressure on the defense with penetration and hitting big shots. He played for his teammates and his teammates loved and respected him.

Steve Nash
Steve Nash

During one season, a study was done on Steve Nash and how many times he "touched" or high fived his teammates. The average number per game was 239! Obviously, Nash wasn't scoring or making an assist 239 times per game, but he knew every possession was our possession and he wanted to make a positive impact on his teammates and coaches every play. A high five, fist bump or a pat on the back was Nash's simple way to impact his team's possession.

Steve Nash was an "our turn" player.

We may not all play in the NBA, but we all know "my turn" players...

They are the ones standing around the three-point line watching the guy with the ball yelling "cook him" and "Iso". The next time they get the ball, they expect everyone to get out of the way as they put on a dribbling exhibition making 43 crossovers before forcing up a bad shot. These players are easy to spot in a pick-up game and in an organized game for many reasons (see the list below for traits of my turn players).

Traits of a "My Turn" Player:

  • 1. They dribble the air out of the ball
  • 2. They force shots
  • 3. They stand when they don't have the ball
  • 4. They jog in transition
  • 5. They are visibly frustrated when they don't get the ball
  • 6. They are unable to take ownership of mistakes
  • 7. They are quick to call out other players
  • 8. They have poor communication skills
  • 9. They are bad for team chemistry

MY TURN PLAYERS are hard to play with.

You never know what you are going to get when they walk into the gym. They are either hot or cold. Many times, their emotions drive their performance. If things are going well they are having a great time. If things are going poorly they suck the energy out of a team. This makes them difficult to communicate with.

This issue is multiplied when things are not going well. Many times they make negative comments about teammates or even have negative self-talk. We have all played or seen these types of players. To those that know the game, they are the ugly duckling on the court and stick out like a sore thumb.

OUR TURN PLAYERS stand out in the crowd as well. They are one of the first people picked to play pick-up games. Coaches have a hard time taking our turn players out of the game, players love to play with them, and THEY WIN. See the list below for traits of our turn players.

Traits of an "Our Turn" Player:

  • 1. They have extremely high basketball IQ
  • 2. They sprint lanes, screen, cut and space the floor
  • 3. They get A LOT of easy buckets
  • 4. They take good shots
  • 5. They will pass up good shots for great shots
  • 6. They seem to be in the "right spot" at the right time
  • 7. They get excited for their teammates
  • 8. They value winning over individual stats
  • 9. They impact every possession

my turn vs our turn players

Our Turn players get in their workouts and come into the season prepared. They make the game easy.

It feels like they are playing the game one step ahead of everyone else. This is partly because they are reading the entire floor, not just their defender. They look for opportunities for their own shot, but they also space, cut, screen and penetrate to create opportunities for their teammates.

They understand that it is not my shot or my teammates' shot. It is our shot. They play the game to get the best shot possible for the team.

To meet your full potential, learn to become an Our Turn player.

Think of every possession as "our" possession. Take ownership of what happens on every possession. Average players are only concerned with what happens when they have the ball in their hands. Great players know and take pride in making an impact on every play, even if they don't touch the ball, or aren't even in the game.

You should always be worried about who scores! Be worried that your team scores and the other team doesn't.





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