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PLAYING THE

POINT GUARD

POSITION

“There is no greater offensive play than driving your defender causing another defensive man to react to stop you, and then passing to a teammate spotting up in an open area for an easy shot.  This concept of unselfish one-on-one basketball that creates openings for teammates is point guard team basketball at its best.”

The point guard is the:
 

Point of the offense

 

Point of the defense
(pressure the ball – the pass and shot)  

I.  The Big 5:     Stance  |  Concentration  |  Quickness  |  Balance  |  Play Hard


Stance:  Start with feet pointed straight ahead as wide as the shoulders.  Go down bending in knees and not the waist; chest out, back straight, and chin up.  Widen your base (two feet) two steps or more.  Get your buttocks down, almost as if you are sitting in a chair and the chair is taken away.  On offense, the ball goes on the chest, touching it under the chin with elbows out.  We play defense with arms out and up, and always flashing in the passing lane.  

 

Concentration:  To me, basketball is very serious business.  When you step across the line, you must have total concentration for the duration of practice.  Athletics takes Concentration – Focus – Execution.  Your coach should not have to tell you over and over; Think-Concentrate-Execute.  We feel the two most important things in basketball are quickness and balance.

 

Quickness:  Try to think quickly:  pass quickly, move quickly and shoot quickly.  Outlet pass quickly, dribble quickly and after a while we might become quick.  Everything you do, try to do quickly.  Do stance and footwork drills daily. CAUTION:  Be quick, but don’t be in a hurry.  The fine line we call poise is quickly and properly executing the Fundamentals of the Game, while staying on balance.  Basketball remains the same at all levels…however, the quickness of the game escalates each level you are involved with.  

 

Balance:  Balance is described as the head at the midpoint of the two feet on everything you do.  When you run, shoot, dribble, rebound or defend, your head must be in the middle of your feet.  If the coach says, “Don’t reach,” he really means, “Don’t let your head get out of the middle of the two feet.”  

BALANCED PLAYERS PLAY, AND UNBALANCED PLAYERS RIDE THE PINE.

Play Hard:  The definition of the word hard is – your shirt is completely wet, not partially; your gut is pulsating; your breathing is hard – gasping for breath!  

 

Seven Fundamentals to practice daily:

  1. Acknowledge a good pass.

  2. The ball goes on the chest – under the chin – with elbows out.

  3. Make a two-foot jump shot – a two-handed pass – fake a pass – make a pass.

  4. V-cut and ask for the ball.

  5. Step back and cross over the dribble (no crossovers and no reverse pivots).

  6. When the ball goes up – the hands go up, too.

  7. Follow your shot.

The Point Guard must:

  • Make the right pass,  >>>  Get the ball in the operational area.

  • At the right time,  >>>  Few turnovers as possible.

  • At the right spot,  >>>  Be the best-conditioned player on the team.

  • To the right player.  >>>  Make your foul shots because at the end of our games we’ll put the ball in your hands.

  • (K.Y.P. – Know Your Personnel)    
     

Points to Ponder:

  • Be quick – do not be in a hurry.

  • Your greatest skill is listening.

  • You must effectively communicate your thoughts and ideas to others.

  • Fatigue makes cowards of us all.

II.  General

 

Every position on the team has an important role to play in the success of your team.  The #1 guard must be the most completely skilled and, even more importantly, must have the intangibles of leadership and the coach’s perspective of the game.  Much of this is gained by years on the court, being coached and liking to be coached, and also enjoying and studying the strategies and technicalities of the game.  He is the coach on the floor and this applies to practice as well as games.  Sometimes it comes down to taking a stand at the risk of being unpopular for the good of the team.

 
You keep your teammates in touch with the coaches and you keep your coaches in touch with your teammates.  This is on the court and off the court.  A difficult challenge is for you to see the coach’s perspective as well as that of the player.  This will better enable you to be the team leader that you and the coaches want you to be.  


Strive to help your teammates maintain a positive line of conversation with each other.  It is never acceptable to tear a teammate down.  This is often done under the camouflage of humor.  It is in poor taste and is very destructive to a team’s attitude to “humorously” poke fun at a teammate’s game or any part of his person – such as his number of shots, shot selection, speed, body build, looks, hands, and basketball intelligence.  You should not criticize any of these things, and you should stop any teammate who chooses to be critical.  Only the coaches can be critical of a player’s performance.  The exception is during the flow of a game or scrimmage when you are a coach on the floor and have to keep individuals in line with the team concept and team goals.


Basketball is a team game and unity is of utmost importance, although every team member is an individual.  The same general standards are applied to all players, and in working with each player to reach those standards, some may need to be treated differently than others by the coaching staff.  You understand this principle also from the standpoint of being the “coach on the floor”.


During the flow of the game, the position you play puts you “in-front” of your teammates at all times.  You initiate almost everything.  On offense, you start the offense with the ball.  On defense, you set the defense by how you first meet the ball with intensity and pressure.  Your teammates key off all this.  If you are poised and smart as you start the offense, the team will be as you are.  If you are intense and tough defensively, your front line will play the same way.  The bottom line is that it all starts with you!!  You can create much of the attitude and atmosphere for the players around you.  
Keep a watchful eye on your teammates during the course of action.  Watch for fatigue and loss of concentration. Communicate your findings to the coach.

III.  Practice


Daily practice is what you love and where you really excel.  You set the example for intensity, concentration and execution from the time you set foot on the floor until you leave the court.  


Non-basketball talk is taboo.


Enthusiasm is a must every day.


As practice moves from drill to drill and situation to situation, you lead the way in getting organized and getting things going.


“Hurting” and being tired are an important part of every practice and every game.  You play above it – you react by stepping up the pace and increasing the enthusiasm. 

IV.  Intelligence and Leadership


You have studied the game plan until it is part of you, and where possible, have studied films of opponents so that you can visualize all game possibilities before they happen.


On game day and night, you know all the mechanics and procedures to be followed that day.  You understand that each part is important to the outcome of the game that night and to games ahead.  Because of this, you make every effort to have yourself and your teammates get each part done in a proper way.


The time in the locker room before the game is of utmost importance.  The attitude of seriousness and thoughtfulness must prevail in an atmosphere of peace and calm.  Loud talk, non-basketball talk, horseplay, etc., is absolutely unacceptable.  The pre-game warm-ups are a key get-ready time.  Enthusiasm, concentration, intensity and execution are the theme.


Know that your team wins from the inside and keep them honest from the outside.  The most productive play on offense is to draw the fowl in an attempt to score and this can be most successfully done from the inside.


At the start of a game, the tendency is to fire away from 3 point range.  Hitting the 3 or missing the 3 will beat you in the long-run. At the start of a game, the tendency should be to pound it inside with the pass or the dribble along with player movement.  We gain a definite psychological advantage in a lot of ways:  you have established to the opponent that you can hurt them in their most vulnerable areas, and you have all of your teammates involved in the “playing”.  This will pay dividends defensively as well as offensively as the game progresses. 


As you are playing a game at its present point at opportune times such as between plays or when the clock is stopped, your mind is playing ahead preparing for possible upcoming situations.  You want your teammates to be doing the same thing and you must be talking to them all the time about possibilities.  


Know the strength of the team you have on the floor at any given time and look to play to that strength.  If you are bigger and stronger inside, you must be careful not to outrun your strength while still keeping the pressure on and challenging your big men to get up and down the floor.  If your strength is quickness, then you up the tempo and go that way.  
As a point guard, you are not looking to score as first priority.  If the opportunity is there, then capitalize on it, but your first priority is to look for opportunities for your teammates. Be a calming influence.  You have poise!  Do not try to force passes, shots, drives, low-percentage steals, etc.  When you force the issue, the rest of the team has no guidance or direction.  Play within your physical ability (each of us is different).  Be patient and allow the game to come to you.

 

Know the offenses and defenses inside and out.  You must know the movements and responsibilities of every man on the floor.  


You are in charge!  Everyone in the gym must know that by how you conduct yourself on the court.  Confidence and leadership “ooze” out of your being!


You must maintain continuous communication with the head coach.  As time goes on, you will find yourself thinking more like him.  Every direction coming from the bench you can apply in detail using every option and also being confident enough to deviate when the situation warrants change. 


Do not be afraid to make a mistake!  Fear has not a place in your makeup.  You know the percentage of success for everything you do so fear has not a part of you.  When your teammate makes a mistake, “pick him up”, and help him put it behind him. 


You must be a good public relations man on the floor, creating lots of goodwill with the following:

 

  • Your Teammates

  • The Officials

  • Fans in the Stands


You must act by planned thought, not by impulsiveness.  In other words, you condition yourself to do what is called for in a given situation, not what all of the sudden you may feel like doing. 


It is OK to say, “I don’t understand” or “Someone else could do it better” if these situations arise.  Ego and pride must take a back seat to team success.


Know the time and score at all times!


Constantly complement your inside people for sprinting up and down the floor, hitting the boards, taking charge, intimidating defensively, playing smart, passing it back out, etc.  In other words, there is always a ground for being positive in your communication.  This lays the proper groundwork for them accepting constructive criticism positively from you when it is necessary. 

V.  Offense


Keep in mind that you have a dominant hand and that your mind subconsciously works to that side.  Even though you use each hand well, your tendency will still be to start the offense to the right if right-handed, to look to your right as soon as you catch a pass, etc.  So, you must make a conscious attempt to work both sides of the court equally.  The team suffers if the lead guard is “one-sided” as opponents capitalize quickly on these kinds of tendencies.  
Know and understand space on offense, both in transition and in the set.  While the basic responsibility for spacing is the players without the ball, you can also help.  Try to maintain a general midpoint between two receivers.  Too close to one (less than 12 feet) means you are too far from another (more than 15 feet).  On the set, you will usually have two immediate receivers and sometimes three.  You keep the offensive pressure on by maintaining a position that allows you to play effectively with all immediate receivers.  


Sense when you have a teammate that is in a really good rhythm (hot hands), has mismatch, has an opponent in foul trouble, etc.  Know the offense in-depth so that you know what options to run and to which side to increase the scoring opportunities for him.  At the same time, you do not disorient the offense to benefit one player.


Give the ball up freely and quickly.  This way your teammates are always anxious to get the ball back to you.  It is very dangerous to make judgments like ignoring an open teammate in an attempt to wait for an opening for a scoring pass underneath.  This is what we call the “big play syndrome”.  The first open man gets the ball!

 

Your head and eyes are always centered on the basket.  You should have all four receivers in your field of vision.  Learn to use your peripheral vision to find teammates.  Some eye movement is necessary but you should not move your head.  
Know that a set defense is toughest the first 15 to 20 seconds you face it.  Move the defense with two to four basic passes before you attack it.  This also gets your teammates into the act of handling the ball while breaking the defense down.  Now is the time to look for the penetration drive or pass.


Penetration does not mean that you beat your man and get a shot off.  Penetration also does not mean that you drive as fast as you can and then be forced to do something with the ball that is not desirable.


Know and learn what to expect when you penetrate.  Know ahead of time from where the defensive pressure will come and react to the pressure.


Do not have your mind made up before you penetrate.


To penetrate and charge means you are out of control, and that is the poorest of offensive plays.  As you are learning to play against tough defense, you will charge some – just learn by it!

 

When penetrating, always get at least into the lane before picking up your dribble.


Equal and skilled use of both hands goes without saying (almost).  Allow no opposing scout to even entertain the thought that you are not fully ambidextrous!


You execute the pass that meets the needs of the situation.  The spectacular pass/play is not made to please the crowd. In the natural course of action, this type of pass/play will sometimes be the only one that fits the need, but there is no place for manufacturing it.  Make the simple play.


Keep your teammates happy by distributing the ball and get it to them.  That does not necessarily mean they have to shoot it, but they have to be able to handle it. 


When playing against the full-court pressure, double teams, etc:

 

  • You have 9.9 seconds to advance the ball across midcourt, so no need to hurry.

  • Do not pick up your dribble to get out of the double team.

  • Use the backup dribble to get out of the double team.

  • In backing out of the double team, look to split it by going to the low dribble and driving between the defenders.

  • All forms of presses and double teams load-up on the ball side; thus, ball reversal is a must in beating the press.

  • Try to keep three angles of passing attack with the ball:   *Sideline    *Middle    *Release behind the line of the ball

  • If you should receive the inbounds pass after pivoting and looking, you should try to advance the ball as far up the floor as possible to ensure a release and passing angle behind you.

  • In getting open to receive the inbounds pass, stay out of the corners.  They are double team territory.  

  • After beating the press, your team should advance the ball as fast as possible towards the baseline attempting to pick up an easy scoring opportunity.  


Understand the value of the basketball and take care of it!  Your opponents cannot put any points on the board without it.

 

Learn to move your teammates by eye-contact, head movement, body language and visual signs.


In crucial situations, know who ought to have the ball for the key scoring efforts.  

 

If you get a half-step advantage when being pressured on the dribble in the backcourt, accelerate your angle in attempt to draw contact to draw the foul.

VI.  Defense


You set the tone defensively.  You are the first line of defense and your front line will play the same intensity and intelligence they see out of you.  Executing every play soundly and enthusiastically will upgrade everyone’s play.

 
Know what defense you are in and communicate that to your teammates at all times.  When we substitute, you need to do the same relative to defense and offense. 


The opponent's point guard is usually their key man just like you are.  Thus, the better job you do on him defensively, the more difficulty the opponent will have playing in rhythm.  Cut off the head and the body dies!


Defense is potentially the most consistent and successful part of our game.  You must attach special significance to how well you play defensively.  Playing hard-nosed, tenacious, intelligent, team-oriented defense will make you invaluable to your teammates.  They will follow your example.  Concentration is very important as you maintain proper position at all times.  Then you have to go the second mile and do things to help your teammates that are not called for in the organized scheme of things.  Taking the charge and diving for loose balls must be automatic for you.


The hustle, guts and determination you display in transition defense are critical to the team.  When an opponent is coming down on you on the break, you must be determined to stop him.  Going through the motions and giving up a score is not acceptable.  Your back is to the wall and you must work and fight a delaying action until help gets there.  No lay-ups.  


Talking continually on defense, especially in transition, is very important.


Demand that your teammates hustle back in transition.  Good transition defense is even more important than transition offense.


Keeping the ball-handler as far off the center of the court and as close to the sideline is extremely important to the overall function of the defense.  Understanding who is in overplay – deny and help-side is first determined by ball position.

VII.  Tempo and Transition


As the primary ball-handler, you determine the tempo to some degree by how quickly or slowly you advance the ball up the floor.  Understand push and pull.


Try to catch some defensive player asleep in the final phase of transition.


Make your own teammates get into the offensive position as quickly as possible.  When the ball is deep into the front court and no opportunities are there, you must keep your dribble alive and bring it out to set the offense up.  


If you pace yourself, you will find that you are leading a “lazy team”.  If you are nervous or anxious, you will find the same thing in your teammates.


When you feel your big men are temporarily out of breath or the momentum is shifting the other way, you may slow it down and walk it up.


Feeling the movement of momentum is very important.  If it shifts to the opponent, you slow it down.  If it shifts your way, you increase the tempo as a rule.  This is particularly true if you are playing on the road where the crowds are the big part of momentum.  The more quickly the home scores come, the more the crowd enthusiasm builds and the situation becomes more disturbing.  When this begins to happen, you put time between their scoring opportunities by controlling the ball.


Some reasons you might want to “up-tempo” are:

 

  • You are on a roll – everything is breaking your way.

  • The opponent is sending four or five men to the boards.

  • Your team on the floor has a speed and quickness advantage over the opponents on the floor.

  • The opponents are not “deep” and offensive pressure makes fatigue a factor in your favor.

  • The opponent’s half-court defense is unusually tough so you try to beat it in transition.

 

Some reasons you might want to “down-tempo” are:

  • “Big Mo” is going the other way.

  • You have a key player who is in foul trouble or tired and he must stay in the game.

  • You have not scored in three straight possessions so you go for the sure basket.

  • Your opponent has scored three straight baskets so you should put some time between their possessions.  

  • The team you have on the floor is at a speed and quickness disadvantage.

  • You have a real size advantage so you play the big men.  

VIII.  Conclusion


The most important contribution you can make is the height to which you can raise the determination, concentration, motivation, inspiration, and overall productive levels of the other players.  A very important part of this is how well the team plays as a unit when you are in control.
You think of others first.


WHATEVER IT TAKES….
YOU ARE WILLING TO GIVE!!!

 

© 2021 by Greg White Basketball 

Email: GregWhiteCamps@gmail.com

Ph. 304-400-4703 | Toll Free: 855-836-2830

P.O. Box 3883 | Charleston, WV 25338

 

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