Many times, it is easy to talk about what wins games. We put such a premium on this, that we sometimes fail to talk about #WhatLosesGames. In many cases, these can be direct opposites. As I break down what loses games in this article, we will take a look at on & off the court reasons of why games are lost.

The first thing that comes to mind as a strong indicator of how games are lost is poor PREPARATION. During the scouting/preparation phase of planning for a game, there are many things to take into account from preparing your team physically and mentally, to the actual game plan being delivered to the team by the coaching staff. I am a firm believer that a team will rise and fall to the level of their preparation. Another thing that comes to mind that determines how games are lost is EXPECTATION. If one has a “we are just going to go out, play our best, and let the chips fall where they may” mentality, they are not expecting to win. This will lose a game for you very quickly. The teams that are winning championships don’t allow these types of mentalities into their program. To win, you must expect to win. What can lose games, is not having an expectation to win at all.

Lastly, what also loses games is poor EXECUTION. A team can prepare, go through the motions of preparation, scout, meetings, etc, and still not tap into the level of preparation that will allow for them to cross the threshold of tactically dissecting a game well enough to on-purpose leave the court with a victory. Winning can happen on purpose. This doesn’t mean that a team won’t lose a game if they on-purpose go after a victory. What I mean is that a coaching staff can develop an anecdote of preparation strong enough to win games, to the point that it becomes very hard to defeat them. When this type of synergy is established, most of the time coaching a team is done primarily in practice. When this doesn’t happen, coaching, screaming and yelling is done during the game as an effort to make up for the work that has not been done to perfect game-time execution systems in practice.

After a loss, the stat sheet can directly tell the story of why the loss occurred.


One of the stats that can stand out after a loss is turnovers. It is tough to win a ball game when your turnover numbers are really high. If a team’s turnover numbers are high, this stat can sometimes correlate to the opposing team’s points off turnovers and their fast-break points.


Rebounds are always an indicator of a ball game that a team loses. The old saying goes “the team who wins the rebounding battle will win the ball game”. Outside of the few instances where this may not serve as true, most of the time this statement proves to be true. A team that is outrebounded, is in most cases, normally the team that loses the game.


It is hard to win a game when a team gets loose from the 3 point line, or has an amazing day inside the paint. After a game, either of these stats can be checked to see if either category has a lopsided advantage for the winning team. In this case, this category can be evaluated for improvement for games moving forward.

I am a firm believer that a team will rise and fall to the level of their preparation.

There is never a time after a loss where adjustments cannot be made. If you lose a game, whether, against a great or not so great opponent, the fact that the game did not result in a victory means that there is something to learn from that defeat.


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