Ball Reversal: Defining it, the importance of it and improving upon it

Coming into a new program allows the coaching staff to take a look at last year’s film and see where their current team and opponents are from a talent and x’s and o’s standpoint. 

One of the main components that I look for when watching tape is does our team or do our opponents get adequate ball reversal. 

DEFINING BALL REVERSAL: First, let’s define ball reversal. Ball reversal to me is any time the ball moves, with pace, from one side of the floor to another. That is, if the ball starts on the right side of the floor and has to be dribbled to the left side of the floor in a non-attacking manner, then that, to us, is not a true ball reversal. However, if the ball is reversed via the pass, with pace, or off the bounce relatively quickly, those actions do count as ball reversals. 

THE IMPORTANCE OF BALL REVERSAL: As most basketball coaches know, ball reversal is key for running a successful offense. For our program, we want to play on at least three sides of the floor. That is while under the restriction of a 30 second shot clock in the women’s game, our team strives to move the ball via the pass or attack dribble from the left-right-left or from the right-left-right. 

Moving the ball allows the defense to make a mistake. Whether it is lack of communication, slow help rotations or poor closeouts on shooters or drivers, playing on three sides of the floor is critical for our program’s offensive success. 

IMPROVING UPON BALL REVERSAL: In order to ensure timely and adequate ball reversal coaches need to continually teach, drill and emphasize their teams on:

1. How to move on the weak side of the court without the ball.

2. How to use timely cutting action to relieve pressure.

3. How to get receivers open on time via L-cuts/V-cuts from all spots on the perimeter, especially those spots in their offensive system.

4. How to clear space on the catch via jab steps and rip throughs to allow ball reversal passes to get to their intended target safely.

5. How to use dribble penetration, with a purpose, to attract multiple defenders.

Continual training on these techniques will improve the ability to play on multiple sides of the floor in a fluid manner. As an added bonus, playing on 3 or more sides of the floor keeps all members of the team engaged on each possession because the ball is being shared. In addition, increased ball reversal will most likely result in increased offensive production due to the defense being caught out of position, being physically fatigued and/or being mentally disenfranchised. 

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo

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3 comments on “Ball Reversal: Defining it, the importance of it and improving upon it

  1. Cy says:

    I agree 100% with you. The more you swing the BB quickly ( we use “pass, pass” as a reminder to our players), the more difficult it becomes for the defense to help, especially with all 5 players moving at the same time.
    I think the Spurs are great at this & created problems for the Heat with their passing. Tony Parker said they have a drill where they can only dribble 2 x’s before passing & he implied they do it for :20 with all 5 players moving.

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