Under most circumstances, there are basically 5 player positions that are most common to play within the confines of the game of basketball. These include: Point Guard, Shooting Guard, Small Forward, Power Forward, and Center. We will give you the basic defining traits for each of these positions in a moment.
As we looked at previously, there can be a variation of the number of guards vs. forwards or centers in a given offensive set, depending upon the type of offense which your team may use. In some Motion type offenses or 4-Out styles, your team could possibly be playing 4 Guards- 1 Center/Forward; or 2 Guards-2 Forwards-1 Center; or 5 Guards.
If you are working out of a 3 Out-2 In set, you might possibly see 3 Guards-2 Forwards; or 2 Guards-1 Center-a Small Forward and a Power Forward.
Rather than your position being classified solely as a Guard, Forward, or Center, it is possible that your position being classified by a number. This is usually done by giving each of the players upon the court a number. These will always range from 1-5. For the sake of clarification we will place a "P" in front of each number, for example a 1 will be listed as "P1".
P1: Normally the Point Guard P2: Almost always the Shooting Guard P3: Commonly known as a teams Small Forward or Strong Guard P4: Power Forward P5: Center or Forward
so...if your coach happens to tell you that it is likely that you will be a the "1" position, you can almost bet that he is looking at you to be his/her Point Guard; and so on. Now we will look at each of the five positions in more detail.
Point Guard The Point Guard is basically the gear in the wheels of the offense. Without a good PG, the offense doesn't get anywhere!
Primary Responsibilities: Getting the ball up the court. Setting up the Offense Keeping the Offense under control Leading Others Characteristics: Natural Leader Confident Usually the teams best ball handler Above average passer Good shooter Intelligent Above average Court Awareness(knowing where players are at any given time and how Offense works)Game knowledge(having an understanding of how the game works...and what makes it work!)
Shooting Guard The Shooting Guard is oftentimes the "X Factor" in big games. He/She in most cases will be a teams go to guy in situations where they might need that clutch shot to win one at the buzzer. The SG can be anywhere at any given time, and in some instances, whole teams set up and run their offenses based upon their SG.
Primary Responsibilities: Getting open and making themselves available for high percentage shots Working to help PG in running Offense Looking for available inside players and cutters Characteristics Above average shooter(usually the teams most consistent mid to long range shooter) Above average passer Good ball-handling skills Good Court awareness Good general game knowledge Fairly competent off the drive
Small Forward The Small Forward, or 3 Guard, is almost always the "jack of all trades" for any team. They normally are equally strong both on the perimeter, and in the post. Small Forwards are usually dependable, talented, and relentless.
Primary Responsibilities: Playing Inside-Out Looking for open players Aiding PG and SG in Offensive responsibilities.Rebounding Characteristics Strong Good mid-range and inside shooter(occasionally long range) Good rebounder Good passer Good ball-handler Good court awareness
Power Forward The Power forward is your typical rock down low. He/She is usually a player that does the down and dirty work, and seldom receives the recognition that he/she deserves.
Primary Responsibilities: Working the lane Rebounding Posting up, Playing inside-out Characteristics Physically Strong Athletic Above average rebounder Above average inside to short range shooter Being a physical presence inside the lane(especially around the goal) Aware of perimeter players
Center The Center is, for lack of a better word, your best inside player. He/She will rarely see perimeter play unless they are setting a screen or forget where they are at.
Primary Responsibilities: Playing the inside Making themselves available in post area Rebounding Being a force inside lane(to free up players on perimeter when defense has to help) Characteristics Normally a teams biggest/tallest player(but not always) Team's best inside player and post defender Above average rebounder Usually a teams most dominant inside presence Above average short range shooter under pressure
The responsibilities and characteristics given here are by no means all-inclusive. There are other traits and variables that determine a players position as it relates to the game of basketball. But it should give a good general idea of what is required at a given position.
For great tips on becoming a Complete Offensive or Defensive Player click here.
If you haven't already, take a look at how the use and purpose of positions relate to coaches and players by visiting our Player Positions for Basketball page.