Basketball Positions

There are basically 5 different basketball positions. These helpful youth basketball tips will teach players and coaches the offensive and defensive responsibilities of each one.

Click on each position to find out more...

  1. Point Guard (also called #1) - Usually the best ball handler.
  2. Shooting Guard (also called #2, Off-Guard, or Wing) - Usually the best outside shooter.
  3. Small Forward (also called #3 or Wing) - Usually the most athletic player on the team who can play inside the key and outside.
  4. Power Forward (also called #4 or Post) - Usually one of the taller players on the team who is a strong rebounder and can move around well around the key.
  5. Center (also called #5 or Post) - Usually the tallest player on the team who plays exclusively inside the key and should be a good insider scorer and rebounder.



Each of the positions in basketball has specific responsibilities.

Though each of the basketball positions has a general area on the court where they set up, these locations may change throughout the game for all kinds of reasons.

A player's strengths and weaknesses, physical size, and offensive plays that are called are just some of the factors that influence where a specific player might actually play.

Many players find that they fit into only one position, but the more versatile and skilled players may have the opportunity to play a of couple different basketball positions.

Sometimes the #1 and #2 players are interchangeable, as well as the #2 and #3, #3 and #4, and the #4 and #5 players.


Basketball Positions - Basic Responsibilities

#1 - POINT GUARD

Plays outside the lane, usually at the top of the key

ON OFFENSE:

  • Floor leader and coach on the floor
  • Often one of the shortest players on the team
  • Team leader
  • Provide positive leadership
  • Run the offense
  • Bring the ball down the court
  • Excellent ball handler
  • Handle defensive pressure without turning the ball over
  • Good passer able to set the offense in motion
  • See the whole floor to recognize what the defense is doing and what players are open
  • Good outside shooter
  • To call plays, must be an assertive and confident communicator


ON DEFENSE:

  • Usually guards the opposing point guard
  • Good defender on the ball
  • Aggressive and scrappy
  • Willing to hustle after loose balls
  • Usually the safety and should be the first person back on defense to stop the fast break
Duke Basketball Developmental Drills for Point Guards
Becoming a Champion Basketball Player: The Point Guard
Basic Point Guard Skills & Drills

Basketball Positions - Basic Responsibilities

#2 - SHOOTING GUARD

Plays out on the wing usually from the free throw lane line extended all the way down to the corner on the baseline

ON OFFENSE:

  • Usually the best outside shooter
  • Hit consistently from the wings and the 3-point line to open up scoring opportunities for the posts down low
  • Good ball handler to help the point guard bring the ball down the court if there is a lot of pressure
  • Good passer 
  • Get the ball into the posts
  • Drive to the basket to score
  • Move without the ball to keep the offense flowing


ON DEFENSE:

  • Typically taller and slower than the point guard
  • Usually guards the slowest guard on the other team
  • Cover out and deny to keep opponent from receiving the pass from the point guard
  • Make it hard for opponent to pass freely into the post from the wing or reverse the ball to the top of the key
  • Keep opponent from driving to the basket


Steve Alford - Ultimate Guard Development Drills

30 Drills for Building a Complete Guard

Basketball Positions - Basic Responsibilities

#3 - SMALL FORWARD

Plays on the opposite side of the court as the #2 player and covers the same area from the free throw lane line extended down to the corner.

ON OFFENSE:

  • Usually the most athletic player on the team; quick and able to jump!
  • Shoot from the outside
  • Good ball handler
  • Create scoring opportunities off the drive
  • Good rebounder; ready to crash the boards after every shot
  • Good passer with the ability to pass the ball down low to the posts
  • Able to move effectively without the ball by cutting to get open
  • Know how to use screens
  • Be in excellent physical shape to help lead the fast break by running hard down the court every time
  • Very skilled, strong, and versatile player who has to be able to shoot from the outside as well as in the key with the larger more physical players


ON DEFENSE:

  • Typically guards the best athlete on the opposing team who is usually the #3 player
  • Has the same responsibilities as the #2 player, with an extra focus on crashing the boards hard
  • She also needs to know how to play post defense since the #3 players cut through the lane and try to post up at times.
Attacking Footwork Drills for Perimeter Players
Developing Perimeter Players
Chair Drills: Shooting Workout for Perimeter Players

Basketball Positions - Basic Responsibilities

#4 - POWER FORWARD

Roams the lane, sometimes playing near the top of the key and sometimes posting up down low, and also popping out to the baseline

ON OFFENSE:

  • Usually one of the tallest players on the team and often the smaller and more athletic of the post players
  • Make quick, strong cuts across the lane
  • Sink short jumpers from free throw distance
  • Execute a variety of post moves
  • Comfortable using either hand to handle the ball
  • Be able to shoot facing the basket as well as working off of post moves with back to the basket
  • Must have strong hands and be able to catch passes while being banged around and closely guarded
  • Needs to be physically and mentally strong because there is a lot of physical contact in the key
  • Recognize when the defense is collapsing and find an open teammate either by kicking the ball back out to the wing or dumping it down to the open #5 player
  • Post player is critical in helping the offense be able to reverse the ball around the floor
  • Good screener who will be called on to set picks for players to cut toward the basket
  • Strong rebounder with a desire to crash the boards after every shot


ON DEFENSE:

  • Block out and rebound EVERY time a shot goes up
  • Physically strong and able to play good post defense
  • Good help-side defender able to keep cutters from receiving the ball in the lane and helping stop any drives toward the basket

Skill Development for Inside and Perimeter Players

Complete Player Development Workouts for Perimeter and Post Players

Coach K Drills for Post Players

Basketball Positions - Basic Responsibilities

#5 - CENTER



Of all the basketball positions, typically the tallest and biggest player on the floor. Plays in the lane, both high and low, and rarely leaves the lane

ON OFFENSE:

  • Has many of the same responsibilities as the #4 player
  • Be able to shoot short jumpers from free throw distance
  • Be able to do all of the post moves
  • Be confident using both hands to handle the ball
  • Be able to score facing the basket and working off post moves with back to the basket
  • Have strong hands; be able to catch passes and hang onto the ball while being banged around and closely guarded
  • Physical and mental toughness is a must because of the constant contact in the key
  • Be able to recognize when the defense is collapsing and find an open teammate either by kicking the ball out to the wing or finding the open #4 player
  • Critical in helping the offense reverse the ball around the floor
  • Good screener because who will set lots of picks for players to cut through the lane
  • Strong rebounder who hits the boards hard after every shot
  • Usually the trailer, or the last one down the floor, on the fast break


ON DEFENSE:

  • Block out and rebound every time a shot is taken
  • Strong enough to play good post defense against big, strong players
  • Good help-side defender who can help teammates out on defense

She needs to take advantage of her large body to be an intimidating presence in the middle by blocking passing and driving lanes and contesting every shot.




Post Play Progression Drills

Big Man Development Drills

The Post Player

There is one more role on every team that gets overlooked a lot when people think about all of the basketball positions - the Bench Player.

Though obviously very different from the other positions in basketball, bench players have very important responsibilities to the team.

For some excellent DVDs and videos with basketball drills and tips for each of the basketball positions, click on the following links:

Guard Play - Point Guards, Shooting Guards & Wings

Basketball Positions - Post Play (Forwards & Posts)


>> Basketball Positions





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