For growing players, a familiar situation happens to lots of us: (hopefully) on your way to full height of six-foot-something, you’re the tallest (or one of the tallest) player available on your basketball team. So your coach plays you as a 4 or 5 position player even though you want to play guard, either because guard is your natural position or because you know you will need to play on the perimeter at the next level you compete at, whether that next level be high school or college or the pros.
- Even though you’re one of very few useful “bigs” on the team, you’re still better than the guards that get playing time.
- You feel that anyone that is seeing you play in this unwanted position will mentally classify you as a post player, thus ruining your chances of playing for any team of theirs as a guard.
- Your development for the next level is being stifled and you feel playing the 4 or 5 is destroying your career prospects.
This — being cast as a power forward or center on a team when I longed to play guard — happened to me multiple times. The last of which being my junior year of college (details of which will be shared in full in my book “Buy A Game” on December 25). We didn’t have any useful big players so I started at power forward and backed up our center sometimes even. I hated it. The next place I competed at — a pro basketball combine a year after college graduation — I was on the floor as a guard and none of what I did in college mattered. All that counted was what I did on the court right then and there. And I was ready.
There are proactive steps you can take if you’re stuck playing in the post. The first of which is to speak to your coach privately about the position you’re playing and see what your coach has to say about your wishes. If your coach sees it your way and you will be playing guard going forward (not likely), congrats. If the conclusion of the conversation is that the position you’ve been playing is the position you’ll be playing (more likely), all is not lost.
First off I’ll tell you what I wish someone had told me: if you’re a guard playing the post out of necessity, think about that. The team needs you. In any team sport, need for a player almost always correlates to playing time. As a 4 or 5 you’ll (probably) play a lot more than you would as a guard. And on a basketball team,
playing time is gold. Don’t throw it back in the ocean.
Secondly, if you’re gonna play in the paint, at least make yourself good at it. Start with the Post Moves Hoop Handbook. You can use your guard-like abilities — quickness, shooting, face-up skills (all covered in the Handbook) — against the “natural bigs” you’ll be facing.
Finally, your time away from the team grants you plenty of opportunity to develop those guard skills for the next level. When I showed up at my first pro camp out of college no one asked me what position I’d played on college. They just asked me what position I was playing now.
And I went out there and performed.
You can’t blame a coach about what you do or don’t do on your own independent practice time. Work on your ball handling, your shooting, your passing, and whatever other skills you have or want to have in your game. So when you get that chance to show what kind of player you really are, you have some damn skills to back up your claims.
A coach is the person in charge on a basketball team. A coach can play you out of position, run you ragged in practices, and bench you unfairly. But no coach can determine what skills you have.
That’s your responsibility. Work On Your Game.