Utilizing Teammates’ Abilities to Win More Games

When deciding to play sports, you’re making a decision to create bonds, work hard, listen, learn and face wins and losses with teammates. Wining is great, but losing can be tough. So how can you incorporate basketball knowledge while utilizing your teammates’ abilities effectively to help win more games?

The key element, simply put, is to know your teammates.

It’s fun to bond with teammates off the court by playing video games and learning about each other, like favorite foods and colors, but this type of bonding might not help your team on the court. 

So, how do you get to know your teammates in a way that will help your end goal of winning more games?

Below, I have provided three areas that you can focus on to better your “on the court” personnel skills. 

1. Understand teammates’ strengths and weaknesses 

I briefly discussed this in the article ‘How to Take the Next Step’, but want to elaborate more to help you understand the importance. 

Understanding strengths and weaknesses of teammates can help you make better decisions in times when you need a made shot. For instance, when you are down and need a high percentage shot, your confidence level increases when passing the ball to a player that you know can knock it down, especially if you set that player up in his or her sweet spot or an open spot. Another example: if your post player isn’t great at inbound passing, the coach or you should suggest the strongest inbound passer for fulfilling that role. Detecting these kind of situations before they happen can help improve outcomes. 

2. Know the entire teams’ plays and positions on the court, and what to do when they fail 

Most players think the point guard should know the operations of all positions and plays on the court. While this is true, all players on a team should know them as well. Knowing and executing plays allows you to understand the duties and movements of teammates. Knowing where teammates should be on the court is critical, allowing you to guide teammates when they are off track and create new opportunities for scoring when plays fail. In addition, it gives you the ability to predict actions before happening. I call this “player intuition”.

3. Understand the defense 

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “defense wins games”. In basketball, there are various types of defenses. Each is used based on the strengths or weaknesses of the opponent. Knowing how they work and when to use them can be very beneficial from an offensive perspective by aiding in breaking down the defense. Identifying and creating open gaps (caused from ball movement) within the defense can help you place the right teammates in good positions for better shots. Let’s review two scenarios of using teammates’ abilities to break down zone defense (1-2-2 zone defense):

      • Scenario 1 (Full Court Press): If an opponent is trapping the ball in the corners, move the ball around and find an open teammate (the right ball handler) in the middle to attack the basket. Shifting the defense by passing can create open gaps for teammates to flash towards the ball and break the press.
      • Scenario 2 (Half Court Press): Move the ball around by attacking (use of dribble) the middle from the top (wing positions). Potentially, this will draw the defense in and create open outside shots for your teammates (the right shooter)

Closing thoughts:

Knowing the X’s and O’s is just not enough to become a great basketball player who wins games. You must also incorporate “personnel knowledge” to identify the right passer, ball handler, or shooter. Some of the best times to better understand your teammates’ abilities are in practice and in the trial and error of games won and lost. Going forward, after each practice or game, evaluate how you can use your teammates better to help win more games. You will be amazed by the results. 

Interested in training with Coach Paris?
Register for the upcoming All-Around Basketball Skills Clinic in Oak Brook on April 15!

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