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Coaches Network: Characteristics Of The Ideal Point Guard

  • Date:
    Mar 6, 2015

With this week’s focus on the point guard position, our question for the USA Basketball Coaches Network was simple:

What are the most important characteristics of a good point guard, and what do you look for the most when it comes to that position?


Sue Phillips, head coach, Archbishop Mitty H.S. (Calif.)

The ideal point guard is a court savvy “floor general” who possesses both a high basketball IQ and a toolbox with a full complement of ball skills.  Our “floor general” must be a leader with exceptional communication skills, and the ability to direct traffic. To keep his/her teammates in system, and to encourage/inspire their teammates along the way. This ideal point guard must be an unselfish player that makes his/her teammates better, and always thinks TEAM first.  Our point guard is expected to control the tempo of the game by taking care of the basketball (especially while under duress) and making the appropriate reads based on time, score and situation.

Our point guard's toolbox must also include the ability to keep the defense honest.  A true triple threat that can knock down the open jumper, score off the bounce or draw to dish/pitch into easy looks for teammates.  Our point guard's “handles” must include the ability to deliver a pass on time, on target and tailored to the personnel. Court vision is one thing, but having the ability to think and connect two passes ahead is an art.  

And never underestimate the impact and importance of a point-guard with a relentless motor and a championship mentality. A player who is “hard wired” to be confident, resilient and mentally tough.  And when this type of glue player is your point guard, it is contagious and, quite frankly, priceless. It is rare to find a point guard that possesses all of the above characteristics, but as coaches we are charged with mentoring all of our perimeter players to that end.  And when you do have that “ideal" point guard, don’t make any travel plans until after the state tournament.

Don Showalter, head coach, Iowa City H.S. (Iowa)

Obviously, the skill of passing and ball handling are extremely important for point guards as well as being able to hit big shots when needed. A pass-first point guard is the best to run a team. This is probably the most difficult position on the court as a point guard must be the extension of the coach on the floor. He must be able to direct his teammates both offensively and defensively. Point guards must make their teammates better players by getting them the ball at the right time and right place. I look for a point guard who can hold his teammates accountable during adverse game situations and be able to rally his teammates in different situations on the court.

Brian Robinson, head coach, Bishop McGuinness Catholic H.S. (N.C.)

Good point guards are students of the game. They understand time and situation, are always looking to facilitate, know how to balance the court, can control tempo and more importantly are an extension of the coach. Good point guards, just like quarterbacks in football, are leaders and have a goal of keeping everyone on the same page. As a coach, you want your point guard to be a self-starter, meaning they hold the reins of your team and get themselves together first before instructing others what to do. The best point guards I have been around have had a servant-leader attitude, where they serve others first by distributing the ball and giving up of themselves in order to become a leader.


Dori Oldaker, head coach, Mt. Lebanon H.S. (Pa.)

The point guard of the basketball team is the equivalent to the quarterback of the football team. Having an outstanding, coachable point guard is key to a successful team. As has been stated many times, the point guard is the extension of the coach on the court. I truly believe the point guard has to be the catalyst of the team. I really try to have a great relationship with our point guard; she and I need to be on the same page and have the same goals for our team.  A great point guard must be mentally and physically tough. They have to be mentally tough to withstand and understand the constructive criticism that goes along with being the point guard. They must have a very high basketball IQ and understand that they have an important role as a leader on and off the court.  They have to be physically strong to handle the ball pressure heat. 

These are just some of the characteristics that I think are important to have in a great point guard: 1. Attitude and coachability; 2. Desire, determination, aggressiveness and competiveness; 3. Concern for individual and team improvement; 4. Mental quickness: the ability to think and react to changing game situations; and 5. The clutch player: coolness and reaction to pressure.

And most importantly, a role model on and off the court and in the classroom.  They need to lead by example in academics and athletics!


If you have a topic you’d like the USA Basketball Coaches Network to address, feel free to write it in the Comment section below.


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