How To Be A Better Point Guard In Basketball | 20 Unique Ways

Last Updated on March 11, 2023 by

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The leader, flag bearer, quarterback, engine and heart of a basketball team is the point guard. If anyone ever tells you that there are more important standing positions than a point guard in an NBA court, then I must say he knows hardly anything regarding the game, let alone play on the court.

This is a no-brainer that a good point guard NBA should have great ball-handling skills, exceptional scoring ability, expertness to find teammates and pass the ball.

So, how to be a better point guard? Pro point guards in basketball are known for their skill and athleticism. A point guard is responsible for performing many things compared to the other four positions on the court and so he needs to be a versatile player.

Without any hesitation, a point guard faces very strong defense because he is going to have the opportunity to touch the ball more than anyone else on the team. So, playing good solid defense, making a quick judgment and a thorough understanding of the team’s strategy is not less important.

There will be immense pressure on your shoulder; the opposition will throw everything possible at you. So, what's your take on how you are gonna react and keep your composure. No doubt being a point guard is of huge responsibility and hard work, but this is also one of the most demanding basketball player positions.

So many players ask, “How to become a great point guard? And what I have to do to achieve that greatness?” So, here are some tips for you to become what you really want to be:

1. Bring the ball into the action center

A point guard's primary job is to move the ball up the court, keep holding the team’s possession, and ultimately set it up for an offensive display. You need to do both- pass the ball to teammates and when the opportunity comes, score on your own. At the start of an offensive play, the point guard usually gets his hands first on the ball.

He also plays a role in defense, stays around the perimeter, near the three-point line, and does all these sorts of things to trick the opponent. When it comes to taking care of the ball, one way to pick up your game is to get better at ball handling skills and right call making ability.

In case if opponent team players are guarding very tightly on the halfway mark line, then surely you won’t have that freedom to bring the ball up on court by yourself. You may need to pass the ball quickly to one of your teammates at this juncture of the game.

2. Practice ball handling

A point guard’s hands are always on the ball so having great ball handling skills is a basic requirement. You should practice dribbling skills to reach the half court before 8 second limit by avoiding traps set up by the opponent team. Whenever there is a fast break, you should apply a high dribble.

In case your opponent is taller, a low dribble will be a much better option to prevent him from reaching in and stealing the ball. You should also develop the ability to dribble with both hands without even looking at the ball. Also, be aware of the fact that where your oppositions are on the court. Be mindful of the fact that you can’t give away the possession.

If there is no possibility of a clear cut pass or shooting, picking up the ball may lead to turnovers or bad plays. If you have better ball handling skills, you need to focus less on your dribbling skills. So, decision making gets much easier on those crucial moments where point guards must react fairly quickly.

3. Keep The Team’s Possession

A point guard usually keeps doing dribbling to move the ball up the court. As he is getting nearer to the basket, he will be under huge pressure from the defense. At the three point line, one defender shall be guarding you. And against heavy defensive pressure, you must be careful not to give way to the possession of the ball. Therefore it is important not to present the opponents with any opportunities to steal the ball.

You can’t move and run without dribbling the ball. If you do so, there will be a penalty awarded to your opposition team. This brings to an important point that if you stop dribbling, the defense just needs to guard against your passing and shooting, minimizing your threat greatly. So this will be such a wrong idea to stop dribbling before you actually need to.

4. Pass The Ball At A Comfortable Position To An Open Teammate

Ask any point guard about an aspect of basketball that must be an inevitable strength for them, and they will say passing. Make sure you serve passes perfectly to teammates who have the best chance of scoring without any turnovers. I can’t say if a point guard has even more important duties to do than this.

If a point guard sees his teammate standing near the basket with almost no one to defend him, he should pass the ball to him without hesitation because he has the most probability of scoring the point with none tackling him.

A. Pass the ball right to a player’s chest so they can easily get the shot.

B. If your teammate is a tall guy, try to deliver a perfect bounce pass, so he doesn’t need to bend too low for it.

You do not require to be flashy and cool with your passing skills. Keep it simple with accurate, solid passes. By avoiding mistakes, a good point guard should have many assists by the time he finishes each game. That is also a definite sign that you pass the ball to the right guy to contribute to your team’s winning strategy.

Pro Tips: Throw the lead pass and allow your teammates to attack. Do not hesitate.

5. Use Jump Shot/ Lay Up To Become A Scoring Threat

Yeah, your job sets up your teammates to score points as a point guard, but that doesn’t mean you should be standing behind lazily. You should know that setting your team up for the best scoring opportunity sometimes means taking it by yourself. If the chance arrives, you also need to grab it with both hands. In case all your teammates are tied up with defenders, but you have the chance to get a clean shot, then you must swish it.

How this is gonna affect the team if you are a point guard who can’t score?

If the defense finds out you don’t possess any potential scoring threat, the defenders shall leave you unguarded and concentrate on their men totally. That means your teammates won’t be getting any opportunities to score anytime soon, as the defenders will always stay closer to them. That shall make it even more challenging for your team to score.

A point guard has an excellent three point and jump is a legitimate scoring threat as he can gain points from virtually anywhere in the court. That should also open up the game for other people. So, defenders have to account for both a point guard and remaining other guys to help their team.

This also plays a keys role in creating good scoring opportunities. For e.g some of the best point guards of all time such as Steph Curry, Russel Westbrook, Majic Johnson, Gary Payton, are all lethal scorers in NBA.

6. Collapse The Defense

Try to master shots like runners and floaters to become a threat in the lane and ultimately collapse the defense there. Great point guards usually have the capability to collapse the defense.

7. Be Prepared To Defend After Shot

It does not matter if your team’s shots have made it’s way to the hoop or not; as a point guard whenever the ball changes the hands you should be ready to play defense. If someone other than a point guard has played the shot, he is probably standing somewhere at the top of the key or along three pointer. 

So he is the best positioned player to give a block because he is usually standing at the most significant distance from the hoop. In case of a fast break, if anyone blows past you to your team’s corner, try to block the shot by following him because you have got the best chance to prevent him from scoring easy points.

8. Stay At The Perimeter

A point guard must take a position at or somewhere near the three point line in front of the hoop to get a good view of both team’s players. Why is this stance so important? Because you need to spot where your scoring opportunities are and how you can expose your opponents.

However a point guard should be versatile and feel free to play anywhere in the court if the situation demands. He should never feel limited to this zone.

9. Great Communication

On the court, a point guard often requires communicating with his teammates to set up an attack, scoring opportunities, executing plays, and others. He needs to use both his voice and body to engineer them. But what will happen if you are a point guard who can’t communicate well with teammates? Ultimately, you become an Achilles heel in the way of your team’s progress.

The point guard can use specific signals, code words, and so on to keep his team’s winning formula a secret on the court. For example, standing at the top of the key if a point guard raises a fist for the small forward indicates he is telling the forward to cut back the three point line and get ready for a pass. Also you need to put in a lot of practice as a team because everybody needs to know when what sorts of signals to expect and how an individual conducts.

10. Become A Leader

You might have seen this before too. A point guard makes eye contact with his teammate and gestures towards the defender in front of him. What can be the purpose of his directions? Yeah, you got that absolutely right; he is setting up a screen.

Basketball point guards constantly use hand signals, verbal commands, code words, screams, and even give non-verbal cues to their teammates to govern the play. He starts with the ball, stays at the perimeter, and acts as leader of the pack. Sometimes he uses a fake name of a play that they have practiced before the game as part of their team’s strategy.

If he is not passing the ball to any teammates, he wants someone to find an open space to create a potential scoring chance. By watching a basketball game closely, you can get ideas of what sort of directions a good point guard displays.

11. Set A Benchmark

You are holding one of the most unique and rewardable positions of basketball. The most challenging job to do on a basketball court is to serve as a point guard. You should try to lead by and set the tine through hard work, dedication, and practices. Teammates see their point guard taking the game seriously; he never misses out on a practice session, working hard continuously to improve his game. 

So your teammates and especially inexperienced ones should feel encouraged to do the same. This is how a point guard earns mutual respect from his teammates and helps develop bonding and improves communication level, which is crucial in basketball.

12. Serve your teammates with efficient passes

A point guard is the captain of your team on the floor. If you see our teammate is in an unprotected area and has the opportunity to score, you must give him the pass as soon as possible because a tiny fraction of delay may cost your team a vital point. This is why point guards need to feed their teammates with quick effective passes.

In the NBA, you may have seen point guards use various signature moves such as no look pass, elbow pass, behind the back pass, and complicated pump fakes to the team's advantage. Unless you have done enough practices or experienced these moves, it will be better not to employ them during a game. If there is a scope for a simple pass before your eyes, why do you need to go for a flashy one?

Pro Tips: To avoid turnovers or interception with the ball, be aware of passing the ball through the crowd.

13. Shooting

If you’re scoring regularly as a point guard, the opponent will definitely fear you. Even they may send a couple of defenders around you to guard. They are unconsciously freeing up your teammates so there is a bigger opportunity to earn points by feeding your teammates with the correct pass. Whenever there is an opening for you, you must punish them by scoring on your own.

A. Let’s assume you pass the ball to a momentarily unguarded teammate but he is quickly covered now and therefore can’t shoot. If he is the same defender who was guarding you, follows the ball, you should expect your teammate to pass the ball back to you as quickly as possible to get into a shooting mood.

It will be great if he can pass the ball faster than the defender can make his way back to you. Great court awareness and good communication skills are needed to fox the defender.

B. If a defender is guarding you when you’re trying to get a shot, you can throw himself off the court by using pump fakes, one handed fake even the fadeaways won’t be that of a bad idea either.

14. Have Control over the rhythm of your possession

A point guard can indeed control the pace of the game because he is usually the guy on the court who gets his hands on the ball more than anyone else. He can either slow the game down by taking time to get the ball up the court or drive the game into a higher tempo by immediate sprinting and passing. 

You need to understand when to apply one of these two choices. Both can be a part of your team’s winning strategy given the situation of the game. Here are few examples for you when to speed the game up and slow down the play.

A. After a few successful fast breaks if your teammates are tired, you need to slow the game down to give them some extra time to rejuvenate themselves before going with all guns blazing again.

B. If you see your opponents are tired then you should look to speed up the game and earn some easy points. Always remember-The offense always decides the tempo of the game.

C. If you start a fast break and the defense has come ridiculously fast to guard their hoop, then wait for your teammates at the perimeter. In the meantime, they are expected to catch up and take their positions on the court.

15. Guard your opposite number

It does not matter whether you’re playing offense or defense; as a point guard, you should always try to stay at the perimeter of the key or near the three-point of line.

You should be there to prevent him from simply driving towards the hoop or shooting whenever he gets up to the court. This shall put him under a lot of pressure, so chances of making mistakes are pretty much inevitable.

However, depending on what the offense is doing, you may need to move from your default position. If you see the point guard moving towards the hoop after giving the ball to a teammate, do not leave him.

Stay with him because he is probably trying to get the ball back for a lay up. Alternatively, you can even stand right between him and the hoop.

16. Stance is crucial

Your strong defensive stance can contribute to your team’s winning cause by making a big stop. Thus the physical ability is such a crucial factor in basketball that so often people say defense is about 90% of heart and 10% skill.

A solid defensive player is very much well aware of the way he is using his body to guard the opponent. Here are some tips through which you can be an effective defensive player.

A. You can easily react to your opponent’s movement by staying low means keeping your shoulder low and hips back.

B. You will see in the NBA that many defensive players keep their one hand up during the passage of play. Some keep their one hand low. These are due to two reasons. If the opponent is within the shooting range, their shots can be blocked and can also attempt to steal the ball.

C. Do not get too close or too far away from your opponent. Too much distance shall enable him to get a shot before you block him. Standing too close means they can easily blow you. Keep an arm’s length distance from your opponent.

D. Brisk footwork shall make you react quickly to an opponent’s change in direction.

17. Keep an eye on the passing lanes

You can’t block every pass, that’s almost impossible to do. You need to be well conscious of offensive players' positions, where they are, and what they intend to do. Because you want to make the interception. A point guard who is terrific in defense brings great value to the team.

So when you’re defending-this is usually a bit difficult to know what’s happening behind your back on the court. Because you have been given a duty to guard an opponent in front of you, therefore you can’t take your eyes off of him. So, what you can do is take a quick look behind and see the offense’s positioning.

18. Stop fast breaks

As mentioned above, a point guard’s position in the court makes him eligible to be the only player who can defend an opponent’s fast break. Try to follow the ball carrier all the way to the basket as most often, short breaks end up with a lay up. Do not let the offense player get ahead of you or he will get a free scoring opportunity.

If two players are coming towards you simultaneously, you need to keep a balance of your attention between both the players. Try to stay ahead of them or between them and hoop. In the mean time, your teammates should be able to come to the rescue of the team. Don’t give up even if you are alone. Remember LeBron James’s chase down blocks?

19. Figure out your coach’s plan

A point guard is someone who always shares a special bond with his coach. He must understand his coach’s plan inside out, most importantly his role because he is the guy who will run the coach’s strategic plays on the field. He needs to better understand what his coach is thinking about the game and then should execute those instructions quite effectively.

A point guard is a multi tasker because he is the person responsible for calling a time out. When to call for these strategic plays requires awareness of both coach and your game plan.

20. Follow the footprints

If you are an amateur point guard who is still looking to find his feet in the most demanding position of the basketball game, look closely at some of the greatest point guards of the NBA. Because by watching these legends play you can definitely improve your game as a point guard and motivate yourself. 

There is absolutely no harm to learn from the NBA’s greatest point guards. Few names come up when you talk about the best point guards in NBA history, such as Jason Kidd, Russell Westbrook, Gary Payton, Isiah Thomas, John Stockton etc.

10 Must Have Requirements Of A Great Point Guard:

1. You should be both mentally tough and confident. Stay focus, study opponents and challenge your teammates. Also need to have the mindset of accepting criticism from others. Furthermore, you should analyze your game every day. If you don’t have that mental toughness, you will be easily distracted or panic in a tight situation.

2. High Basketball IQ is a must for a point guard. Because on the floor, you’re the coach who will control the game's tempo and give voice in the huddle. You’re gonna dictate everything therefore should know the time, score and possession of the match.

3. Solid defense is a great asset to a point guard’s game.

D. You must be physically tough because you need to play out the full quota of the game, can’t leave your teammates there on the court. Two pass, two on three, three dribble one on one, two man game, lay in drill etc. are known to be some of the elite point guard’s workouts. To be better equipped with the fast pace of the game, you can practice these drills.

E. You should be an excellent ball handler and strategic passer.

F. Master a go to move.

G. You must develop a team first attitude because your team’s win-loss ratio is more important to you than your own shots. It does not matter who scores.

H. You must know your teammate’s strengths and weaknesses. Must be acquainted with your teammate’s game.

I. You should be able to collapse the defense and defend your own position at the same time.

J. You need to give up the habit of showing off such as over dribbling or do not try to be too cute with fancy passes.

Final Verdict

We think now you have got the answer of how to be a better point guard in basketball. A point guard undoubtedly is the toughest position to handle. But if you can commit to these simple instructions we have given to you, surely you may become the best point guard you can be.

Even You may be able to give some tips if anyone asks you how to be a better point guard. Now it’s just a matter of getting into the court with your coach and teammates and putting everything into the work.

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