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Playing the Point Guard Position

Many factors are involved in playing this position effectively. Some of these factors include how the Coach wants their point guards to operate, the style of play, the abilities and talents of the teammates surrounding the point guard, and the skills, temperament, experience and leadership qualities of the point guard herself. Some of these qualities are discussed below.


 The point guard is an extension of the coach on the floor, or the floor general. So the point guard must have a close working relationship with the Coaches and be very "coachable". She should have frequent discussions with the Coach to know exactly what the Coach expects of her, and what team strategies to use at a given time. The point guard must know her role on the team, whether she is expected to be a pass first type assist man, or more of a score. This of course will depend not only on her own skills as a scorer, but also upon the talent of her teammates around her. If the team has some excellent scorers, she will want to be a good assist person and get the ball to those players. If no-one else on the team is a strong scoring threat, then the point guard may need to step up into that role.

 You must also be able to communicate with your teammates both on and off the court. Learn to read the cuts your wing players make, whether they V-cut or back-cut. You might work out some hand signals so you know whether she is going back-door or not. At times, you may see the your team bunched up, with poor spacing, and you need to know how to back the ball out, direct them and get them to move and correct their spacing.

Court Balance, Passing, Half-Court Offense

 Your first thought should not be scoring, but being an excellent passer and getting the ball to your teammates for easy shots. Many think that dribbling and ball-handling are the most important attributes for a good point guard, but I believe it is being an excellent passer and being able to find the open man, and when to pass and not pass. Taking care of the ball, and not throwing it into a crowd. Avoid those costly turnovers. Learn to open the passing lanes by "looking" the defender away. Avoid passing in the direction you are looking, or "telegraphing" your passes. Look one way and pass opposite, using your peripheral vision. You should keep your head up and eyes forward toward the hoop at all times, and you should be able (using your peripheral vision) to see all four teammates at once. You want to try to get the ball to your "hot shooters" or to your teammate who may have a mismatch with her defender. Also know which teammates are currently on the floor and who your best scorers are, and get them the ball.

 Keep your passing accurate and as simple as possible. Don't attempt some "fancy" pass when a simple chest or bounce pass will do the job. Keep your passes crisp with some zip, but not so hard that your teammates cannot catch the ball.

 Distribute the ball from side to side using both sides of the court. There will be a natural tendency for a right-handed player to favor the right side of the court, but you must use the entire floor to overshift the defense and involve all your teammates.

 Pass the ball into the high post (especially if you have a skilled high post player). A lot of good things can happen when the ball gets into the high post. Passing into the low post is usually easier from the wing position, but you can occasionally catch the defense sleeping. To be a consistent winning team, you must be able to get the ball inside for those low post shots and lay-ups. You want to get to the free-throw line and get the opponent in foul trouble. Don't just rely on firing up three-pointers all night.

 Avoid pointless dribbling on the perimeter... keep the ball moving. Catch the ball in triple threat position and look to attack with a pass or a drive. Don't just give up your dribble.

 Look for your own shot too or otherwise the defense will not have to play you seriously. Look for the outside shot, but also be able to beat your defender with a drive into the paint. When you penetrate, you cause problems for the defense if you can hit the little pull-up jumper just inside the arc in the paint, or if you can dish the ball to an open low post player (whose marker has come up to defend you). Now here's where communication comes in again. Usually the point guard has primary responsibility for being back on defense and preventing the opponent's fast break, and will not attack the offensive boards for the rebound. When you dribble penetrate, you must have an understanding with either the #2 or #3 player that she will stay back out on top to prevent the fast break.

 A little tip against zone defenses... realise that zone defenses are most effective for the first 15 seconds. If you make a few quick passes, reverse the ball, and get the zone to move, it will often move out of position. Then when you see the openings, attack the gaps with either a good pass, or dribble penetration.

Control the Tempo

 A good point guard knows how to control the pace or tempo of the game, and how her coach wants the tempo. You must know whether your team is better as a fast-breaking team, or better as a slow-down team. And this can change depending on which teammates are on the floor. If you have your big, slower guys in there, and if they are in a little foul trouble, you might want to walk the ball up the floor and slow it down for a few possessions. If you've got your speedy guards in there, pick up the pace. If your team looks tired after a couple fast trips up and down the court, slow it down a little for a couple possessions. You can rest on offense, but never on defense. Momentum is a big factor too. If your team is really "on a roll", keep the tempo fast. If the opponent makes a few unanswered baskets and has the momentum, slow it down and walk it up the floor and make sure you get a good shot opportunity.

 When bringing the ball up the floor, keep your eyes focused ahead and maybe you can occasionally catch the opponent's transition defense loafing and hit a teammate with a long pass and lay-up, but never force it.

 When pushing the fast break, if you realise the opponent has gotten back successfully in the paint, stop the fast-break and dribble it back out on top and start your half-court offense.

Know the Game Situation

 Since you are the "coach on the floor", know the game, score and clock situation at all times. Talk to your Coach and find out what they want you to do in certain situations. 

Dealing with Full-Court Pressure

 When faced with a full-court press, you must be aggressive with your cut and "want" the inbounds pass. You are the team's best ball-handler and passer and their best chance for successfully getting the ball up the floor. Remember, it is not easy for the defense to steal the ball from you as long as you stay calm, stay out of the corners (where they can trap you), pass rather than trying to dribble through the double-team, and keep the ball in the middle of the floor or reverse it to the weak side. In a full-court press, the defenders are mostly positioned on the ball-side of the floor, so a quick reversal to the opposite side will usually beat it. Also, after passing off to another teammate (when the press traps you), cut and try to get the next pass right back again. Most Presses are usually beaten after the second pass.

Leadership, Attitude

 Coaches like a point guards who are confident and a little "feisty" -- players who are able to grab her teammates and say, "C'mon, let's go!". You are the leader on the floor and the team will follow your example. Most often your offense starts with you, and you are the first line of defense when the opponent comes up the floor. If you meet their point guard in an aggressive manner on defense, your teammates will pick up on that and play hard too.

 As a team leader, you must be willing to work harder than anyone else in practice so as to "lead by example". You must try to get along well with all your teammates and be a "peace-maker". Don't allow players to belittle each other (often done in a joking, but still hurtful, way). Be a leader in promoting team spirit and unity. Make the younger teammates and those teammates who get less playing time feel important too, that they are contributing also.