Why The Ball Hog Is Bad For The Team

Legendary basketball coach, John Wooden, once taught a valuable lesson about the importance of teamwork during a 5-on-5 basketball scrimmage.

There was a “ball hog” on the team.

A “ball hog” is a player who handles the ball excessively in a given sport, to the point of impairing the team.

Unfortunately, we see this frequently in the sport of lacrosse.

It’s that selfish player who continually tries to take the scoring on themselves.

They force shots, they don’t pass, and they go to goal when they have 4 defenders around them instead of passing the ball to other players who are wide open in their periphery.

Why do they do this?

Because they’re “ball hogs.”

But, let’s get back to Wooden.

Before the scrimmage Coach Wooden took four players aside and told them to do something different.

He asked them to pass the ball to the “ball hog,” then immediately run to the middle of the court and sit down.

This would show the “ball hog” that he had to play the other team all by himself.

It was Coach’s way of showing that everybody helps everybody or nothing gets done.

Every player is important and every one has a role.

That is a true team.

After the lesson, the “ball hog” started passing more often. The player understood the message.

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care about who gets the credit.

Harry Truman, 33rd U.S. President

Superstars are selfless.

Superstars think “team first.”

Remember that.

Another example that was associated with Coach Wooden was with one of his former player, Lewis Alcindor (who you may know as Kareem Abdul-Jabar).

Lewis believed that the team came first, not his own statistics.

How many players do you know who really think team first – before themselves?

Coach once told Alcindor that he could design a system that would make him the greatest scorer in the history of college basketball.

Alcindor’s response?

“I wouldn’t want that, Coach.” (Because of his belief in team first).

A great player who is not a team player is NOT a great player at all.

Lewis Alcindor was a great player because his first priority was the success of the team.

When playing team sports, it’s important to remember that it’s a team effort.

There is no one individual who makes the team, but a collection of talent, skills, and contributions that lead to success.

The “ball hog” is bad for the team because they don’t put the team first.

There, I said it.

The team makes the team.


If you want to learn about real teamwork and leadership principles, study the work of the late, great Coach John Wooden.

You will learn a ton.

Start with The Essential Wooden.

These are principles for living a better life – and that’s what sports is all about.

The team is greater than the individual talents of any one player.

-Christopher Moore, CEO of Positive Coaching Alliance

Coach Scott

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *