Basketball Roles and Positions

There are many roles on a basketball team.  Each player has a different set of skills that can be utilized in various ways to ensure the success of the team.  Our jobs as coaches is to assess each player, decide what role that player can be for the team, and then teach that player the skills that will make them the best they can be at that position.

Remember, at this level, it’s all about what’s best for the team and our ultimate goal is to win.  Little Johnny may want to be the next Magic Johnson or Steve Nash but he just can’t dribble and he always turns the ball over.  If he wants to fulfill his dream of being a dribbler, passer, assist man, and lead the team as an ultimate point guard, he may have to spend hours on his own time developing those skills but he will not play a second for this team (in that position) if he doesn’t have those skills developed yet.

According to Coach Jim, there are “4 Main Things” to the game of basketball:

1. Defense   2.  Blocking out and Rebounding.  3.  Ball Handling   4.  Offense

I require everyone on the team to be committed to playing outstanding defense and blocking out and rebounding after every shot.  To me, this is 50% of the game of basketball (2 out of the 4 main things).  If you can play great hustling defense and block out and rebound on every shot, coaches will love you and want you on their team.  The third thing in basketball is ball handling.  I require everyone on the team to be excellent passers and catchers.  When you pass, try not to telegraph your passes and always pass with intelligence.  If a player is posting up, throw a bounce pass to the open hand.  If it is a back door cut or you are fast-breaking, always lead the player and don’t throw it behind him.  When catching the ball, always “Go To” it and catch it with 2 hands.  As you catch the ball, you must focus on your footwork.  If you catch the ball in the air and come down with a good strong Jump Stop (where both feet hit the floor at the same time), you can step with either foot.  If you catch the ball and your feet don’t come down together, the first one down is your pivot foot.  Immediately establish the pivot foot (show the referee) and utilize ball slashing techniques to make sure we limit turnovers.  Be strong with the ball, anticipate aggressive defenders.  Always keep your head up and be looking for the next pass.

Many players cannot dribble.  If you can’t dribble, you can play for this team (a lot) if you are smart enough to not dribble and your primary means of moving the ball up and around the court is by passing.  If you choose to dribble and you are not a good dribbler, this is not wise and you will be spending a lot of time on the bench (hopefully, NOT wondering why you are not playing).  Once you get this simple concept:  DO WHAT YOU DO WELL AND DON’T DO WHAT YOU DON’T DO WELL, your playing time (PT) will increase.  It’s all about helping the team and not hurting the team while you are out there.

Who do you think are the best dribblers on this team?  Who are the shooters?  Who are our best penetrators and scorers inside?  Who can finish and who can “dish”?  Who are our best defenders?  Who are our best rebounders?  Who sets the best picks?  These are all the things we need to analyze as we formulate a team.  When we put everything together and play smart, we have a chance to win every game we play.

Most teams get 60 possessions in a game.  Our shots will not be balanced evenly (12 shots per game x 5 starters).  If we do that, we may lose every game.  If we have our best shooters doing most of the shooting, our chances of winning go up dramatically.  If you are not a good shooter, the time to practice shooting is NOT in the game.  Hone your shooting skills on your own time and if you become one of the best shooters on your team, your coach will design more plays to get you more shots.

The player positions are usually assigned numbers.  If I tell a kid to play a “2,” that tells him where he is going to set up on offense as well as defense (if we are playing a zone).  It is a quick way for coaches to communicate with their players.  Sometimes I will tell a player, you are playing “1” on offense and the “3” on defense.  So it is very important to know these positions.

#1.  Point Guards:  Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, John Stockton, Isiah Thomas, Steve Nash,

#2.  Shooting Guards:  Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, Ray Allen, Pete Maravich

#3.  Small Forwards:  Larry Bird, LeBron James, Julius Erving, John Havlicek, Scottie Pippen, James Worthy, Dominique Wilkins, Paul Pierce

#4.  Power Forwards:  Tim Duncan, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, Kevin McHale, Dennis Rodman

#5.  Centers:  Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Moses Malone, George Mikan


Some cool videos to check out:

NBA…Same Story

How Bad Do You Want It? Part 3