Player Positions in Basketball

In every sport there are some specific Player Positions that athletes can be placed into and Basketball is no different. In a broad sense within basketball there are three positions where players can play according to their skill set, ability and physical attributes. The three broad player position categories are Forward, Centre and Guard. The broad terms of forwards and guards can be described further as Power Forward and Small Forward (sometimes called the Finesse Forward). The guards’ player positions can similarly be further defined as Shooting Guard (alternatively called the Two Guard) and Point Guard. Each position holds a special and significant place in the tactics of basketball. Coaches appoint players in younger years of development depending on physical attributes and potential to develop into playing positions as prescribed by the role. However in elite levels of the sport players can and often do move between positions depending on the needs of the team.


It is important to note before we start to define the individual roles that no position is more important than any other. This is true as far as the overall play of the game in the elite levels of the sport where players have developed a wide range of technical skills transferable from one position to another. A common occurrence with the sport of basketball is that certain leagues or tournaments will be dominated by a single position. This due to a number of factors such as a discrepancy between teams personnel and scouting around exposing this weakness.


It is worth noting that at a junior level, playing positions will often be determined by what is lacking within the team. For instance, if the tallest player in the team normally plays the Point Guard position, but there is no other player capable of playing the Centre position then the coach may use the player in the Centre capacity.


The Centre is a player position that is often a specialist interior scorer. This position is often a pivot for the offense of a team. The player who is assigned this position is required to secure as many rebounds as possible and score heavily.  This position is often the main interior target in offense and primarily shot blocker in defence.


In the Centre position players are usually the tallest players in the team. Players in this position range in height of upon seven feet and often have a monstrous physique. To play this position the player must be able use their size and strength to outplay their opponents. The player who fills this position must be outstanding scorer from near the basket, the player must possess the ability and agility to play near the baseline and they must be a good rebounder and blocker.


Some world famous players who are currently active in the position of Centre are Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum. Both are currently players in the National Basketball Association (NBA).


Shooting Guard position is often a primary scoring position within a basketball team. This position is often heavily focused on generating offense and in some instances is the backbone of the team’s offense and scoring. It is an expectation that a player within this position is able to generate offensive opportunities from the perimeter (three point line).


This position is often filled by the best shooter in the team. Along with exquisite shooting abilities, the players must have solid passing and ball handling skills. To fill this position the player must be able to lead an offense effectively in the half court through their offensive awareness. It is essential that the player is proficientat shooting from the mid to long range.


Various legendary players currently play and dominant at this position. Some of those players are Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, Manu Ginóbili and Dwayne Wade.


Point Guard is often referred to as an extension of the coach on the court. The role of this position is to make sure that both the offense and defence are working well. The Point Guard is the position which organises and puts into action a lot of the tactical strategy on the floor. It is a very important position and the main role of Point Guards is to implement their respective coach’s thoughts and strategies correctly in the field. Irrespective of if this player is the team captain or not this is a nonnegotiable leadership position within the team


As the Point Guard position is a highly demanding and versatile position on the court in basketball, it requires functional players with a very good vision to play in this position. The person playing in this person must be an outstanding playmaker and equally effective in defence. The person must have great dribbling skills and fantastic basketball aptitude for reading the sport of basketball tactically on the court.


Steve Nash, Jason Kidd and Chauncey are some very renowned players of the Point Guard position currently.


A player in the Power Forward position is clearly defined by the name itself, and a powerful and physically strong person is required to fill this position. The role of the player employed in this position is to be a workhorse. This position can often play a very similar position to that of a Centre within a team offense and defence. Often teams who do not have a strong Centre will inevitably have a strong Power Forward to fill the void. A Power Forward will often focus around scoring in the interior or keyway. They should have a mixture of both back to basket and facing the basket offensive moves. Outside of scoring another positional focus will be on rebounding on both and offensive and defensive ends of the court.


The player must possess a reasonable height and strength if they are to occupy the position of Power Forward. This player must position must have a good in mid-range-jump-shot as the position will move around the perimeter and interior of the offensive half court.


Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan and Blake Griffin are some names that are making headlines in present time while playing in this position.


Last but certainly not the least position in basketball is of Small Forward which often plays on the opposite of the floor to the Shooting Guard. For this reason these two positions will also seem similar in their description. The Small Forward position must be able to play on the perimeter and the interior. This position is one of the most challenging as it requires the shooting range of a Shooting Guard and the interior scoring options of a Power Forward. The overall role and skill set requires shooting, passing, rebounding, dribbling, assisting, stealing, blocking and anything else as needed. It is regarded as the most versatile and necessary position in the game of basketball.


The ideal player for this position is somewhat shorter, leaner and quicker than a Power Forward. B y contrast the Small Forward will be taller but yet possibly slower than a Shooting Guard. Good perimeter defensive skill is the basic priority for this position. Their primary objective is scoring points for the team but they are also required to rebound.


Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Shawn Marion, Luol Deng and Carmelo Anthony are some players currently playing the highest levels in the Small Forward position.


In conclusion it is not unusual to see players move between positions due to injury or changes to the tactical requirements of the team. You will also see players as they move through their careers sometimes move between positions as their skill set and physical capabilities change.

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Coach Riches has been working within the sport, business and education industries for many years. During this time he has built an extensive number of formal and informal qualifications. A firm believer in training and development designed to help people reach their full potential, relevant o their needs and functional to their industry environment.

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