Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Strategy: What do I do about the ballhog on my team?


This question comes from myself and was the inspiration for this blog. I occasionally play in a noontime game that is filled with teens who only want to shoot. After another crappy outing, I decided to google "What should I do about ballhogs?" I didn't turn up anything and this site was born. I'll give the question my best shot, but I'm hoping our readers can help out some more.

Ballhogs are buzz kills. It's just no fun to play with them. My first instinct when I'm stuck with one is to hog the ball myself. But this is probably not the right approach. A team with two ball hogs will soon have five and you'll all be sitting out the next game.

The first thing I would suggest is to make sure the ballhog doesn't bring the ball up the court. Don't throw outlet or out-of-bounds passes to him and try to get some of the other players to do the same. If you're not playing guard, become a third guard, so that that you can work to keep the ball out of his hands. Ballhogs are often loudmouths. He'll complain. Tell him you are planning to throw him the ball. And then do. Just make sure that you only give it to him when he's in a decent position to score, not ten feet behind the three point line. If you've kept the ballhog from bringing up the ball and from running the point, it seems like you should have a good chance of distributing the ball to the whole team, including him--but only when it's appropriate. Other thoughts? And what to do when everyone on the team is a ballhog?

7 comments:

Jeff said...

This is an important issue for the aging baller. Most of my frustration with ballhogs comes from the fact that they don't seem to realize that they're hogging. One approach is to get your teammates on your side and have a sort of in-game "group intervention" where you all point out that the hog is hogging.

A bigger problem for me is when the ballhog happens to be the best offensive player. In this case, there is a certain argument to be made for the hog to keep hogging. However, when the lesser players get frozen out of the offense, they will tend to slack on D as well, and then the hogger has had an inadvertant negative effect on the team. When does this negative impact outweigh the gains the team gets from the hog's offensive selfishness? How can the aging baller negotiate this balance?

Juice said...

One of my personal techniques for mitigating the impact the ballhog has on the rest of the team is by -- to use the technical term favored by sports psychologists and behavioral pyschiatrists around the world -- sucking.

When I played hoops back the day with Jeff and Old School, I found an effective counter to the ballhog was to miss a lot of shots. When someone would charitably pass me the ball for an open shot (and they were all open shots since it was more fruitful for the defender to double the ballhog and leave me as alone as Tom Hanks in the movie where he had the beard and fucked a vollyball), I'd miss by about 3 feet.

As a result, my teammates often turned their rage and/or disdain at me, distracting them from the ballhog.

This, however, is a dangerous technique and not recommended for everyone. Use at your own caution.

CJB said...

Worse than ballhogs are people who appoint themselves as the coach of the team without being asked. Jeff Lin can attest that there's a couple of individuals out in Berkeley notorious for this. It's hard to tell what's worse, being on a team with a ball hog, or being on a team with "the coach", who is invariably another aging baller who deals with his diminishing skills by bossing people around.

As far as dealing with b hogs tho, i think a time tested measure is simply to stop expending any effort at all on offense. Walk up the floor, or even better don't even bother and just hang back on D if it's a full court game. If the ball hog is somewhat aware, about halfway through the game he'll realize that his teammates are no longer crossing the half court line and that he's running iso by himself.

In most cases, however, he won't notice, in which case at least you don't lose any of your valuable aging baller stamina on a game where you won't see the ball anyways. It's kind of a bball version of the silent treatment....

Jeff said...

Cary is right. See my post about the bully that made me feel bad. He's the most notorious "coach" in Berkeley.

Old School said...

In response to Carey's comment on "coaches", I'm not sure I agree. Coaches in pickup games are almost always self-appointed. If they are good at what they do, I don't really mind. Basically, I like a "coach" who handles strategy and offensive and defensive assignments and tries to rally his team by keeping them focused on the score and giving lots of compliments. What I hate is a critical coach, who doesn't contribute himself, and tries to teach fundamentals. We're all too old for that. I think it's more the latter coach that Carey is referring to, but I could be wrong.

Jeff said...

Yeah, there are definitely a couple of different kinds of coaches. "Positive" coaches can be great and can make pickup teams become more than sums of parts. "Negative coaches" - the ones Cary is referring to - suck donkey and make pickup teams become less than sums of parts, as other team members will become hesitant, bitter, and finally just mad. The most frustrating thing about negative coaches is that they do not realize that they are hurting the team, and believe that if everyone would just play their way, the team would win.

Anonymous said...

Ballhogs suck, especially if they are bringing the ball up the court. The best strategy for me is to avoid playing on that guy's squad. I play MWF noontime ball, and there are a couple guys I just won't play with. 'Gotta make a phone call', 'My hammy is a little tender', 'Gotta warm up a little more...' - I've got a million excuses but its worth it to sit out and play, say, 5 games with a good team instead of 6 with a ballhog.

Of course, over time it becomes obvious to everyone what you're doing, which in itself is somewhat effective when the ballhog realizes he's so annoying that guys would rather sit out.....