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January 12, 2024   |   Tagged Skills

The positive and negative of making mistakes when learning basketball

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Basketball Mistakes

There are two types of basketball mistakes: negative and positive

Negative mistakes are costly in basketball. The two most dangerous negative mistakes are sloppy, lack of focus mistakes and high-risk mistakes that cost more than they are worth.

Make sure you are not committing these errors.

This is one of the most important times of year for basketball students. March Madness reveals many valuable lessons. Be a student this season on the court and at the games. Watch, learn, listen.

Sloppy Mistakes—what are the reasons for this?

  1. Lack of skill—for example inability to handle the ball under pressure.
  2. Loss of focus—the mind is distracted by anger, arrogance or fear or impressing others.
  3. Trying too hard—sometimes the risks are so high the player can’t get out of the pressure to play with freedom and peace.

High-Risk Mistakes--These mistakes are taking risks where the risk does not outweigh the reward.

  1. High Risk passing—passing across the court. Slow passing or passing that is difficult to catch.
  2. Dribbling in traffic—when you put the ball on the court the more hands around the ball, the more possibility for a mistake.
  3. Big and noticeable defensive moves that are more flamboyant than successful and leave the offense open to score. For example, straining to intercept a pass only to leave your man fully open to score.
  4. Low percentage shots. Taking a low-percentage shot unnecessarily can be considered a turnover.


  • Never hang your head—your body will believe something bad is happening and begin to make more mistakes.
  • A negative mindset of fear or embarrassment blocks learning.
  • Sloppy mistakes are compounded with shame and blame.
  • Focus on the solution, not on the error.
  • Don’t bring drama or attention to the mistake with a loud yell or big demonstration.
  • Stay focused, admit the mistake, and move on.
  • Don’t judge others. If you are hard on others, you won’t have enough grace for yourself which will lead to greater mistakes.
  • Be tough-minded.
  • Make WISE adjustments.

Positive Basketball Mistakes
You must be able to make positive mistakes if you want to be great at basketball and life. If you cannot make positive mistakes, you cannot get better. Positive mistakes are crucial!

Positive mistakes make you stronger and better. They are absolutely necessary!

Two kinds of Positive Mistakes

Stretch mistakes: These are mistakes made where you almost make it but not quite. These are small-margin errors. These are low-stakes mistakes. In practice, you should be making stretch mistakes. Push the boundaries of what you can do and can’t quite do just yet. You should feel happy when you make these kinds of mistakes.

  • Am I pushing myself so stretch mistakes are happening?
  • Am I being challenged out of my comfort zone?
  • Can I be brave enough to look bad at a drill so that I can get better?
  • Can I use this mistake to make me wiser and stronger?

Transformational mistakes: These are mistakes or challenges that change your life. For example, consider this true story. One of our campers didn’t make All-Star. The good news is that he didn’t make the negative mistake of blaming others. Instead, he chose to see this as a positive opportunity to grow. He went home and studied his game—where was he coming up short? He made a workout plan based on the recommendations of his coaches. He came back to camp and not only made All-Star but also became one of the best players in the city. He would say not making All-Star was one of the biggest opportunities of his life. We believe his growth mindset kept a painful situation from becoming negative and instead, he was able to use this experience to learn from his shortcomings and mistakes to become a better player.

About NBC Basketball

NBC Basketball has been on the frontline of basketball skill development for over fifty years. Located in the USA, Canada, Thailand, Austria, UK and Italy, NBC Basketball camps, clinics, and programs can help you achieve your goals. For more information visit www.nbccamps.com

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