1. Mentally Tough
Makes free throws
Play through pain (not referring to injuries)
Accept criticism from coaches and teammates
Be great in your conditioning all through the season… always ready to play entire game
Stay focused and in tune with the flow of the game while on the bench
First one in, last one to leave
Challenge coaches (respectfully)
Watches film/studies opponent
2. High Basketball IQ
Great in the open floor
Navigate the ability to always know time, score, and possession
Coach on the floor
Ability to control tempo
Don’t be perfect
Voice in the huddle. Doesn’t always matter what you say, just that you are saying something
Comprehension of scouting reports
3. Solid Defender
Great point guards find a way to affect the game in any way possible
Becoming a respected defender makes opposing coaches strategize for it
No player is a perfect defender. Perfect your craft… be a lock down defender in the half court, be a pesky in the full court, have incredible awareness as a help-side defender, and focus on never getting beat off the dribble
4. Physically Tough
5. Excellent Ball-Handler
Doesn't have to be flashy.
Be efficient… don’t use 4 dribbles when you are quick enough to beat your opponent with one. Think about it, you are wasting energy.
Be a great ball-handler in the open court and in tight spaces (there is a difference)
Creating distance is the most import thing
6. Strategic Passer
Every pass MEANS something
On time, on target
Recognize the hot hand
Don’t be afraid to enjoy the hockey assist (make the extra pass that leads to the assist)
Great passers actually practice passing
Become a great “post-feeder”
7. Have a Go-To Move
Key for shot clock, end of regulation, or if team is stagnant on offense
The step back jump shot should be your best friend… just ask Chris Paul
8. Respected 3-Point Shooter
So why do you not see “Leader” listed in the group of eight? Well, what does a leader even mean? All of the above listed qualities that equate to a great leader… but that does not define leadership. A player could have only three qualities listed above and still be considered a “leader” or having “leadership type qualities”.
I did not use leadership as a point guard essential for a reason. The term “Leadership” is the most overused, misunderstood, and misinterpreted word in sports. A player could be stubborn, unapproachable, and un-coachable and still be a leader… if he starts affecting his teammates in a negative way he is still a leader… just not the kind of leader you envision when you hear that word.
That negative player that was just described can create followers and he/she may not even know it. A point guard can yell, scream, pound the floor on defense and be perceived (to the fans) as a great leader. However, yelling and screaming does not mean that the player has control of the locker room, huddle, or off the court scenarios.
Acting on your emotions are the complete opposite of what true leadership is all about.The ability to affect your teammates on and off the court, in a positive way, to maintain the overall goal of winning (as a team) makes you a truly good leader.
You don’t have to be a leader to be a point guard… but it sure will set you apart… You don’t have to have all of the eight point guard essentials listed above… but it sure is coveted by basketball coaches… you don’t have to do half of that and be a good point guard. The choice is up to you to go from good to great. The margins are so small and yet so far apart. Focus on closing the margins and you won’t have to worry about being good, rather, people will tell you that you are great.
This article was written by Mike O'Donnell who is the director of basketball operations at the University of Central Florida. Coach O'Donnell joined the Knights coaching staff in 2011. Mike has not only coached, and been around great coaches, but he was also a standout at UCF during his college basketball career. He brings the experience of having played the game of basketball at a high level, as well as coaching it. Along with coaching and playing, Mike is also a very good personal skill development trainer as well.