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How to Become a Great Point Guard in Basketball

8 Keys to Becoming a Great Point Guard in Basketball


1. Mentally Tough

  • Confidence
    • Ability to think positive and be constructive in every situation
    • Ability to self analyze/self diagnose
  • Makes free throws
    • As primary ball-handler, expect to be fouled in late-game situations
  • Play through pain (not referring to injuries)
  • Accept criticism from coaches and teammates
  • Be great in your conditioning all through the season… always ready to play the entire game
  • Stay focused and in tune with the flow of the game while on the bench
  • Hates losing
    • Relentless worker
    • First one in, the last one to leave
    • Challenge teammates
    • Challenge coaches (respectfully)
    • Watches film/studies opponent


2. High Basketball IQ

  • Great in the open floor
  • Navigate the ability to always know time, score, and possession
  • Coach on the floor
  • Ability to control the tempo
    • Recognize flow of the game
  • Don’t be perfect
  • Voice in the huddle. Doesn’t always matter what you say, just that you are saying something
  • Comprehension of scouting reports


3. Solid Defender

  • Great point guards find a way to affect the game in any way possible
  • Becoming a respected defender makes opposing coaches strategize for it
  • No player is a perfect defender. Perfect your craft… be a lockdown defender in the half-court, be pesky in the full court, have incredible awareness as a help-side defender, and focus on never getting beat off the dribble


4. Physically Tough


5. Excellent Ball-Handler

  • Doesn’t have to be flashy.
  • Be efficient… don’t use four dribbles when you are quick enough to beat your opponent with one. Think about it; you are wasting energy.
  • Be a great ball-handler in the open court and in tight spaces (there is a difference)
  • Creating distance is the most important thing
    • For you shot, the offense, and tempo


6. Strategic Passer

  • Every pass MEANS something
  • On-time, on target
  • Recognize the hot hand
  • Don’t be afraid to enjoy the hockey assist (make the extra pass that leads to the assist)
  • Great passers practice passing
  • Become a great “post-feeder.”


7. Have a Go-To Move

  • This is key for the shot clock, end of regulation, or if the team is stagnant on offense
  • The step-back jump shot should be your best friend… just ask Chris Paul


8. Respected 3-Point Shooter

  • Consistent shooter
  • Stretches defense
  • Takes the pressure off your scorers
  • Opens up your penetration
  • Keeps the defense honest



5 Things Every Basketball Point Guard Should Know


5 Things Every Basketball Point Guard Should Know


Playing the point guard position in basketball comes with a lot of responsibilities. The position comes with an added leadership role, getting the team organized on the offensive and defensive end, and being a skilled player. A lot of point guards are considered the coach on the floor or the general of the team. If you look at the elite point guards like Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo, you will see that they lead their team and look to make every player around them better.

Since being a basketball point guard requires so much of the player, it can become a challenging position. That is why we have created a list of things that every point guard should know about playing this position. So whether you have just started playing point guard or have been playing it for a while and are looking for ways to be a better player, this basketball article is for you.



Take Care of the Ball

As a point guard, you must be able to take care of the basketball. If you are throwing the ball around the gym and frequently turning it over, your team will struggle, and you will most likely end up on the bench. So you need to make sure that you are making good basketball passes and staying out of situations with a high turnover probability. Stay out of spots on the floor where you can get trapped and where there is a lot of congestion, and don’t force the action. A good point guard can see the floor and stay out of situations where there are a lot of hands and people. Just recognizing these types of places on the floor will help you limit your turnovers drastically.


Be a Leader on the Floor

Some players are more naturally outspoken than others, and it is easier for them to be leaders. With the point guard position, though, you will need to get out of your comfort zone and be a leader, whether you are a natural leader or not. It is your job to get the team organized on offense to run set plays and be the leader of your team defense. You are an extension of the coach on the floor, and you need to know the offense and the game plan better than anyone else out there on the floor. This will require more time on your part studying basketball plays, learning the defense, etc., but if you want to be a great point guard, then this is necessary. This starts in practice too. So whether you are doing basketball drills, running 5 on 0 offense, etc., make sure that you are a leader on the floor.



Make your Teammates Better

You will have the basketball in your hands more than anyone else on the floor, and you will be running the team offense. One of your jobs from this position is being able to help your teammates get great scoring opportunities. Great point guards can set their teammates up for good shots in places where they are comfortable with the ball. So whether it is driving the paint to kick out to a down ready shooter for an open shot or running a play to get the ball into the post player, you need to make sure that you are helping your teammates out.

If you see that one of the better scorers on your team is struggling to get going, you need to run a play that gets them a high-quality shot. You must be able to keep your finger on the pulse of your team and know your teammates.



Pressure the Basketball

As a point guard bringing the ball up the floor, you know how annoying it is to get pressured and not be able to get into the offense as easily as you would like. Well, the same thing goes for the ball handler on the other team. If you can provide good ball pressure, you can add a lot of value to your team. The other team’s point guard will be so nervous about the pressure that they won’t be able to get their team into the offense.

Pressuring the ball does not mean reaching, gambling, and getting out of defensive position (unless that is your team’s game plan). You must keep your man in front of you, or they will get into the paint and carve up your defense. Be able to pressure while also being able to contain the ball.



Play at Different Speeds

A basketball player with the ball that plays at the same speed the whole time is easy to guard, but a player that mixes up their speeds and is unpredictable becomes a lot harder to guard. It is not always about being lightning quick with the ball, but you need to go from slow to fast and fast to slow while handling the basketball. This will keep the defender guessing and off-balance when they try to pressure you on defense or trying to keep you out of the paint.

The harder you are to guard off the dribble, the more value you bring to your team. If you can get into the paint to kick the ball out for a shot or dump it off for a layup, etc., you add a lot to your team on the offensive end. You need to get into the paint within the offense, not by using 10 dribbles to break your man down.


6 Things That All Great Point Guards in Basketball Do


You will often hear basketball coaches refer to their point guard as the “coach on the floor” or the “quarterback” of the team. You will also hear coaches talk about their basketball point guard play being the reason their team was so successful. Point guards have more responsibility than any other player on the floor. A good point guard should account for many jobs that statistics just do not cover.

Away from the obligatory basketball skills that point guards must perfect, there are many other skills pertinent for this position. This basketball article for players will breakdown some of these different skills and will allow you to better be able to master the position of a point guard in basketball.



Great Point Guards Plays Under Control

A good point guard plays at a steady pace, never getting out-of-control. They know when to turn up the pace and run as well as slow things down. The pace is generally dictated by the time and score of the game and that particular coach’s basketball philosophy. As simple as this sounds, too many times, you will see a guy push the basketball and run when it is simply not needed, or they will get out of control and make bad decisions because they don’t have a proper feel for the pace of the game. As a point guard in basketball, you need to read the flow of the game and know when to be aggressive and when to slow it down.

Another big part of playing under control is being able to handle the basketball. If a point guard is confident with dribbling the basketball, it will be easier for them to navigate the other areas of the game. Make sure that you are spending time doing different basketball drills that will allow you to work on your ball handling and being a confident ball-handler.


Great Point Guards Understand Time and Score

It is equally important for a point guard to always know the time and score of the game. If there are two minutes left in the game and your team is down ten, the point guard must recognize this and push the pace looking to get quick scores. On the flip side, if you are up 4 with two minutes to go, the point guard must recognize this and set up a play to burn some clock and get a quality shot. Too many times, young point guards lose track of this.



Great Point Guards Know the Offense

On offense, a point guard should know every spot of every play within the team’s offense. A basketball play cannot be initiated or ran correctly if every player is not in the correct spot. Point guards have to recognize this and get their teammates in the correct spots. They should also know who the basketball play is being run for and what the action is trying to accomplish.



Great Point Guards Know Their Teammate’s Strengths

Does my center feel more comfortable from the left or right block? Does my shooting guard shoot the ball better coming off screens going right or going left? The point guard should also have a feel for the opposing player’s foul trouble or where there are defensive mismatches and be able to exploit them without the coach having to say that. The more a point guard can understand offensive strengths and the other team’s defensive weaknesses, the easier it will be to manufacture quality scoring opportunities.



Great Point Guards Are Team Leaders

Leadership is another quality that is a must for a good point guard. Between plays, are you huddling your teammates up to let them know what defense you’re in or what play your coach wants to run? Are you encouraging your teammates or reprimanding them? If your big guy has been running the floor but yet to receive the ball in the post, keep encouraging him and let him know you will be getting him the ball. Are you telling guys who they need to be matched up with, or are you confused yourself? Through scouting, do you know tendencies for all the opposing players or just the guys you are guarding? To truly be a “coach on the floor,” you must know the intricacies of your team and the opponent.



Great Point Guards Are Great Decision Makers

Decision making is another component that a point guard cannot overlook. Turnovers can be a detriment to a team’s success. The point guard has the ball in his hands more than anyone and is looked upon to make sound decisions. A good point guard in basketball must value the ball, and each possession for their team to succeed. It goes deeper than turnovers, but into shot selection and knowing personnel. Know the difference between a good shot and a bad shot. Not knowing the difference can essentially be the same as a turnover, as can not knowing your own personnel.



8 Keys to Becoming a Great Point Guard in Basketball Conclusion

So why do you not see “Leader” listed in the group of eight? Well, what does a leader even mean? All of the above-listed qualities equate to a great leader… but that does not define leadership. A player could have only three qualities listed above and still be considered a “leader” or having “leadership type qualities.”

I did not use leadership as a point guard essential for a reason. The term “Leadership” is the most overused, misunderstood, and misinterpreted word in sports. A basketball player could be stubborn, unapproachable, and un-coachable and still be a leader… if he starts negatively affecting his teammates, he is still a leader… just not the kind of leader you envision when you hear that word.

That negative player that was just described can create followers, and he/she may not even know it. A point guard can yell, scream, pound the floor on defense, and be perceived (to the fans) as a great leader. However, yelling and screaming does not mean that the player controls the locker room, huddle, or off the court scenarios.

Acting on your emotions is the complete opposite of what authentic leadership is all about. The ability to affect your teammates on and off the court positively to maintain the overall goal of winning (as a team) makes you a truly good leader.

You don’t have to be a leader to be a point guard… but it sure will set you apart… You don’t have to have all of the eight point guard essentials listed above… but it sure is coveted by basketball coaches… you don’t have to do half of that and be a good point guard. The choice is up to you to go from good to great. The margins are so small and yet so far apart. Focus on closing the margins, and you won’t have to worry about being good; rather, people will tell you that you are great.


Thank you to Brendan Suhr, Donnie Jones, Chris Mayberry, and Drew Speraw for their input and guidance in this basketball article.




19 Responses

  1. Love it Mike. Can’t wait to help you turn this into an OHoops clinic. I truly believe that my players could use this. This should really be taught in a class.

  2. Thank you so much for this. It has made me realize a lot and also what I need to improve on. I, myself, am a point guard for my school’s freshman team. Thank you for these standards of this position. I will try my best to live up to all of them.

  3. Thanks for this most of this describes me but some helped my step back game over 1000 one thing you should have put that really helps me think in your head on every shot you take say money or what ever you say when you make it

  4. Great article, my son is a PG on our 14U travel team. He is starting to embodie each of the points. Printed and posted it on his bedroom wall for him to repeatedly refer to. Good stuff!

  5. this is an excellent post I truly truly believe in everything that you wrote and put down and I’m going to go back tell my kids use these methods tell my play is to understand the value of becoming a point guard and if you can email me this Nice

  6. Coach Mike O’Donnell , This is outstanding. So glad I clicked-on your 8-Keys. Yes, even though I have read countless articles and books over the years, and attended many, many coaching clinics around the country with outstanding & some legendary coaches from the high school, college and NBA level’s, where years ago, I once had a BIG 10 Coach tell me … “to be a sponge” as you will never stop learning in playing or coaching …. I am able to “focus-in” on YOUR presentation of 8 Keys to Becoming a Great Point Guard and “get a perspective” that I, as a coach, had not “focused-on” before. Keep doing what you are doing Coach, as it not only will help the young student-athlete … but, it will also help the athlete (and Coach) on any level … along with us old coaches. God Bless

  7. Please email me a copy of this article. I would like to disperse throughout our program. Thanks.

  8. This article is very beneficial. I am going to be a freshman this year, and I really want to make varsity. My best position is point guard, and I think that is where I can help the varsity team at. I’m not only focused on making varsity, because I want to be a team leader. The varsity team, where I live, has no leader. They have no one to get them excited or to tell them what to do besides the coach. I truly believe that our school can win a lot of games. I think we can make it to state honestly. But not without positive leadership. If you could please email this to me, that would be great. I want to be a great point guard, and a great leader, and I think this can get me where I want to be. Thank you for taking the time to write this article.

  9. Have a freshmen son who could benefit from these points. Would you please e-mail a copy. Thank you for the excellent article.

  10. Thank you very much! I greatly appreciate this now i REALLY know what the meaning of a ”Point Guard is!

  11. That’s ridiculous! “Mental toughness” is not about “playing through injuries”. That’s the worst advice you could ever give anyone. Smh

  12. I did not read it to mean “playing through injury”. I felt he meant playing through the pain of effort and hard work and then connected to the exception of not playing through pain associated with injury.

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