Photo By: Shane Pope
If you want to maximize your ability as a point guard, you have to be a complete player on the basketball court. Being the best point guard on your team is a great goal, but it isn’t always easy. It doesn’t come from being flashy or scoring a bunch of points necessarily. You have to take care of the basketball, create for others, play great defense, put your team first, and compete on every play.
Remember, your goal shouldn’t be to make the highlight reel. People in the stands don’t make decisions on playing time. You are trying to impress your coach and nobody else. They are the ones who choose your playing time based on who deserves to play and who will help the team win. Here are four key tips for how to be the best point guard on your basketball team:
- Take care of the basketball – Few things will upset a coach faster than carelessly turning the basketball over. Mistakes will happen if you are being aggressive on the basketball court, especially when you are handling the ball a lot. That’s ok as long as you aren’t careless and don’t repeat the same mistakes over and over. It’s unrealistic to expect to never turn the basketball over, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t value it. Protect the ball and don’t force it to teammates unless you know you can complete the pass.
- Create for others – One of the most unique parts of being a point guard is having the ball in your hands so much and being able to set up teammates on offense. Being able to knock down open shots and get easy looks for yourself is great, but getting good shots for your teammates comes first. Your role as a creator may be partly based on your offensive system. If you are asked to have the ball in your hands a lot in the half court, you’ll probably won’t to have great attacking skills in the pick-and-roll. You’ll want to be skilled finding your teammate rolling to the basket or finding who is open for a jump shot.
- Put your team first – The point guard who gets the most playing time is the one who is most capable of setting his team up for a victory. Sometimes, it’s not about how much you can score, even if you are very good at it. You need to do the little things that helps the team. Passing, defense, and even setting screens are all important skills. The team’s success should always come before your own personal glory.
- Defense, defense, defense – I say it three times because it is that important. Playing poor defense is one of the quickest ways to find yourself on the bench. Defense can be hard for point guards because they are tasked with guarding someone who is usually the fastest player who is also talented off the dribble. It can be very tricky to stay in front of them, but it is a necessity.
- Compete – You have to put your best effort forth on every play. If you are fighting for a starting spot with another teammate, you need to treat every play as an opportunity to show you are the best that the team has. Even if you have a starting spot locked up, you should compete on every play. Make it your goal to be the best at every drill and exercise done in practice. Over time, this won’t only make you the best player you can be, but you will also become a leader on the court in the eyes of your teammate. As a point guard, you should challenge yourself to be the team’s floor general and leader.
While these rules apply to any offensive and defensive system, you’ll want to make sure you are fulfilling any other requirements specific to your system. For instance many coaches don’t expect much ballhandling from a point guard other than bringing the ball up court. If this is the case, your spot-up shooting ability may be more important than usual. This usually happens if a team is post or wing dominant and gets the ball in other’s hands as the primary option. This works the same on defense. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend all your time on man-to-man skills if your team runs primarily a 1-3-1 zone defense, for example. You need to spend most of your time practicing the things you are asked to do during a game. These may or may not be the things that make you the best overall basketball player, but they will make you the best player in that role for your team.
Being the best point guard you are capable of being ultimately means putting the team first. Playing time will automatically come to the player who is most likely to help the team win. Coaches are driven by winning and putting the team first will actually help yourself.