Skills

7 Ways to Make a Better Point Guard

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Point guard is perhaps the most demanding position in basketball. A good point guard is expected to have exceptional ball-handling skills, be a scoring threat, orchestrate the offense, make assists, and play good defense against the opposing point guard. Since your point guard will touch the ball far more often than other team members, it is essential that he makes good decisions about what to do with it. Without strong point guard play, your team is going nowhere.

In fact, the point guard is often described as your representative on the court. The point guard has to have a great understanding of your wishes and has to be able to translate those wishes into realities on the court. Controlling the pace of the game, having the presence of mind to wait until players are in proper position before initiating plays, recognizing who has the hot hand, and effectively communicating your strategic directions to the team in the heat of the game all fall to the point guard.

Since your point guard has so many critical responsibilities, he constantly faces strong defensive efforts to reduce his effectiveness. If the opposition can disrupt your point guard and shake his confidence, they can drastically reduce your team's offensive productivity and get easy baskets off of turnovers. Since you know for sure that your point guards will be facing constant pressure, it is your responsibility to prepare them for it.

Here are seven great basketball drills for developing point guards who can withstand and overcome this kind of defensive pressure to effectively lead the team in the direction that you want it to go.

Two-pass, Three-second Limit Three-on-two

This basketball drill is good for your entire team, but you can certainly use it specifically to hone the decision-making and reading-the-court skills of your point guards. The offense has to generate a good shot within two passes and three seconds. Have three offensive players (all point guards if you wish) at the half-court line and two defenders stacked in the key.

Initially, the middle offensive player will have the ball and will dribble toward the key. The defender on top will cover him. The wing players should run wide and cut to the hoop at 45 degrees once they near the top of the key extended. The bottom defender will cover the first pass. The defender who stops the middle point should rotate down to stop the pass to the opposite wing cutter. If the defense has played the odds to prevent a lay-in, then the middle point man should be open at the free throw area for a jumper. That would be the second pass. If no open shot has been generated by then, the offense has failed and the "fast break" is over.

You can use this drill to develop reading-the-court abilities, too. For instance, if your middle player cuts to the hoop after passing instead of remaining at the free-throw area, then the offside wing should cut to the free-throw area. Otherwise, the spacing is distorted and one defender could shut down two players, destroying the three-on-two advantage.

Another way to instill reading-the-court abilities is to start the ball on one of the wings. The wing is free to dribble to the hoop from the wing or to dribble to the middle position, and the other offensive players need to establish logical positions accordingly. For instance, if the wing player does dribble to the middle, then the middle player should "banana cut" behind him into the vacated wing lane. The idea is to quickly establish three good options that will always result in a good shot within two passes and three seconds.

Two-on-Three

This basketball drill will challenge your point guards to operate under intense defensive pressure. The idea is to keep from getting trapped, and, if trapped, to pass out of the trap effectively.

Have three defenders on the baseline under the basket and two offensive players at the wings outside of the three-point line. A coach above the top of the key throws a ball to one or the other of the offensive players, who must immediately dribble inside the three-point line, which then becomes the out-of-bounds line. The defense attempts to trap him (he can dribble indefinitely; they have to make him pick up his dribble) and to prevent an escape pass. The other offensive player cuts and moves in an attempt to provide an escape target.

Play continues until the defense gets a five-second call on a stationary passer, steals the ball, intercepts a pass, or causes an out-of-bounds violation. This drill teaches your guards to dribble effectively against pressure, to move to get open, and to maintain poise when trapped. They will have to pivot and protect the ball. You can make this competitive by keeping track of which pair can maintain possession the longest. If you want to up the ante on defensive pressure, just make it two-on-four.

Three Dribble One-on-One

This simple basketball drill provides your point guards practice in their one-on-one skills. They will need these skills when the shot clock is winding down, plus, you want your point guards to be good offensive threats. If they are, then they can penetrate, draw the defense, and distribute the ball more effectively. You certainly want a dribbling limit. The last thing you want is point guards who dribble around endlessly looking for a shot.

Position an offensive player at the free throw line and a defender under the basket with a ball. The defender throws a crisp pass to the offensive player and closes on him. He has up to three dribbles to get a shot off. If you like, you can have play remain live until the defender gets the rebound or the shot goes in, but the new dribble limit is "one."

You should vary the position of the offensive player to provide practice in attacking the hoop effectively from different angles.

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