Turnover+ – the defensive stat you should be tracking

I was fortunate in the early part of my coaching career to land a very good high school coaching job. Among the assets I inherited (talent, tradition, sensible parents and a very supportive administration) was a stat sheet provided by my predecessor who was an excellent coach. His season summary sheet and individual game stat sheets included two stats I had never considered before, Turnover +’s and (Turnover +or-).

Very simply, any time the opponent turned the ball over, someone on his team received credit for a Turnover+. These turnover+’s obviously came in all shapes and sizes. If offensive player A dribbled the ball off his leg out of bounds or travelled or got called for a ten second backcourt violation because of defensive pressure caused by defensive player A, then said defensive player was awarded a Turnover +. Under the normal confines of a traditional box score, defensive players are only awarded steals. But, any and every opponent TO can be credited to someone individually or in part to several players. Again, it’s your system, so you get to make (and change) the rules as you desire.

Take any box score for instance. Last season’s NCAA championship game between Villanova and North Carolina awarded Villanova with 5 steals but NC had 11 TO’s. So 6 NC TO’s went “unnoticed” for official records. NC also recorded 5 steals but Nova turned the ball over 10 times, so those 5 Nova TO’s weren’t officially credited to any Tar Heel player.

Getting back to my situation, I liked the concept so much AND the players in that program were so accustomed and motivated by the stat, I continued the use. My AD was our stat man and was an astute basketball person so I implicitly trusted his decisions. If one is uncomfortable with that thinking, one can simply use video work to assign credit. Obviously, in certain situations there is a lot of “gray”. What if the opponent slings a pass OOB by 10 feet with no defender within 20 feet of him? That’s the beauty of the stat because it isn’t official. One can assign a .5 to two players or assign a role player the whole credit as a perk, if one so chooses. What if the opponent’s TO is a lane violation? The same principle applies; one can be as scientific as one pleases or as subjective as one wants when awarding turnover+’s.

Of course, the main by-product of awarding turnover+’s is that one now can list for each player (and the team) turnover+’s in relation to turnovers to arrive at a (Turnover +or-). If player A “forces” 3 TO’s and commits 2 TO’s, his +or- for that game is (+1). This stat can now be cumulative for the season and is especially relevant for non-scoring role players who can use stats of any kind to have their worth measured and appreciated statistically.


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