© 2023 by Hartman Basketball

Be a Player, Not a Position

June 28, 2016

 

I hear this complaint all the time from players and parents alike: "My coach just sticks me underneath the basket because I'm tall!"

 

I got my first basketball at the age of three and by the age of five my parents already had me involved in the local youth basketball league. And, despite my parents both being under 5'7", I somehow managed to always be one of the taller kids on just about every team I played on. And you know what most basketball coaches do with "tall" players right? Yep...they stick them right underneath the basket. 

 

My 12-year old son is the tallest kid on his basketball team right now. He's one of the taller kids in his school. Fortunately for him, his mother is tall and her family is tall as well so there's hope that he'll crack the 6-foot mark. However, I am always fearful that he'll get stuck underneath the basket because he's tall. I am quick to remind people that even though a 6'3" kid might be tall in his school, that's relatively short in the basketball world. A player at that height is a guard and if the player has been relegated to the post world as a youth, he has no chance at playing at the next level.

 

It is because of this perception that I always tell the players I coach and train to be players and not numbers. Don't be pigeonholed into being a center or 5 man just because you're the tallest player on the team. Basketball players should be versatile and should be able to perform all of the basic fundamental skills in order to compete. 

 

If you spent any time at all watching the NBA Finals you saw position-less basketball at its best. LeBron James plays whatever position he wants to play because he has all the skills to do so. Draymond Green is labeled as a post player but he was often the Warrior leading the break. Versatility is in high demand right now. If you have five players on the court that can all dribble, pass and shoot then they are practically unguardable. 

 

Players should work on all aspects of the game. If you're short in stature, don't shy away from working on post moves or moves in and around the paint. Work on finishing and pivoting in those areas. Inevitably, the smaller guys and girls always drive the lane and get stuck amongst the trees and have no idea what to do when they're in the paint. There is a panic and it usually results in a turnover. If those same players worked on post moves and pivoting then they would be more comfortable in that area. 

 

The same goes for the taller players on the team. Work on guard skills like ball handling and passing. Become a knockdown shooter. Learn how to handle the ball on the break. It's likely that you will need those skills as you progress in playing level. Don't get caught standing around the perimeter as a non-threat while your defender packs it in the lane to clog up your team's offense. 

 

Basketball is a fluid game. The speed and quickness of the game seems to be reaching new levels each season. The greater skill set you have, the better the chance you're on the court when it's time to make a difference. Position-less basketball is the wave of the future. Don't get caught watching from the best seat in the house. Make yourself into a basketball player, not a basketball position. 

 

If I can help you do that in any way, please don't hesitate to contact me for details on training sessions. Until then, keep pushing and grinding! 

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