Friday, June 27, 2014

Basketball Roles Over Positions

Picture courtesy of
I was having a good conversation today with another coach. We were talking about how coaches often pigeonhole players into  positions. The picture on the right shows some examples of traditional positions that coaches would have for players. Each position comes with expectations of what that position will be doing. For example a "center" or "5" will post up by the basket, play inside, and not handle the ball. On the other hand the "point guard" or 1 will be handling the ball, making a lot of decisions, etc. The problem with this is that positions don't take into account what players can do, what skills they have, and the match ups on the floor. Every player at that position is expected to be the same - and they are not. For example a center, or 5, might be a good ball handler even though they are tall. And in some games he may be guarded by a slow, plodding player and your pg guarded by a great defender. In this situation it would make sense to have your bigger player take it up. This however, usually doesn't happen and we get the tall player standing under the rim and the shortest player bringing it up.

After having that conversation reminded me of an article by Beckham: Analytics Reveal 13 New Basketball Positions. It's a great read on redefining positions in basketball. Re-reading it today got me thinking defining players based on what they can do - their roles. After a quick brain storm, I came up with a list of roles that players could have:

3 point Shooter
Inside Shooter
Post Up Player
Ball Handler
Perimeter Defender
Post Defender
Rim Protector

So what you do is pick the things the player can do and label him as such. Some examples of this would be below:

1. Player who can block/change some shots from help, can rebound, but isn't offensively skilled he would be a: Post defending, rebounding, rim protector.

2. A player is a great ballhandler, a great defender, and can get to the rim, but can't shoot it or guard in the post would be a: slasher, inside shooter, ball handler, perimeter defender. 

3. A player who is a big body, isn't a great shot blocker, rebounds, defends a post, scores well inside with post ups, and can catch and shoot a three would be: inside shooter, post up player, 3 point shooter, post defender, rebounder.

4. A once in a generation player for your school, who can do it all on offense and defense, would be labeled as a: Scorer, 3 point shooter, inside shooter, slasher, ball handler, perimeter defender, post defender, rebounder.

5.You have a smaller player who is great on the ball but doesn't do anything on offense can be described as a: perimeter defender.

So as you can see it's about labeling players by WHAT THEY CAN DO and not a position that implies things. This will help coaches with lineups, subbing, etc. You always need someone on the floor who has ball handler on their name - might not always be someone you would think of as a point guard. Obviously this thing isn't new, but I do think that if you think about it this way it will give you a clearer picture of what you have to work with

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