Three Skills Every Guard Needs

When I say “guard” that includes the point guard, shooting guard and with the way

today’s game is going the small forward as well. Look at some of your favorite

players at the small forward position such as Kevin Durant, Paul George and Lebron

James. Each of these guys are at least 6’8 but have the same skill set as the guys who

are 6’2. The game has changed. Coaches want nearly every player on the court to be

equipped with these three skills, therefore if you play positions 1-3, this article is for


The three skills that are the most valuable to any perimeter player are ball handling,

shooting and defense. Many will argue maybe its passing or slashing or some other

popular skill that most perimeter guards have. What they fail to realize is these are

the skills that will get you on the court and if you can specialize in them it may even

earn you a paycheck one day.

Wizard with the Handle

First and foremost you must be able to handle the basketball. I am not saying you

have to be Steph Curry or Kyrie Irving, but you must be able to dribble without

being flustered by pressure and/or able to create space and make a play.

It makes it very difficult for a coach to play a guard who is a liability whenever they

have to put the ball the floor. The opposing defense will often crowd that guard and

cause the number one killer for any team. Turnovers. Once you are know as

someone who commits turnovers, you will automatically see you time on the floor

begin to dwindle.

Now true handles don’t come from the normal drills you see being taught such as

two dribbles in one direction, crossover and then dribble the other way. Anybody

can do that. Veteran ball handling skills come from practicing advanced techniques,

being confident in the game and most of all working so hard on them in the

offseason you aren’t afraid to fail on the big stage.

Every great ball handler will tell you they dribbled off their leg, lost the handle in a

crowded space or kicked it straight out of bounds. It happens. But you learn from it

and you keep practicing at full speed so when the game does come it only gets


For any guard who likes to pass, the better your ball handling skills are the more

places you can get to on the court. That means more opportunities for you to break

down the defense and drop that dime.

For any scoring guard, handles will allow you to create that space to get your shot

off your break the defenders ankles and get to the bucket.

Whatever your strength is, great ball handling skills will only elevate it.

Deadeye Shooter

What is the main objective for the game of basketball? Exactly, to put the ball in the

hoop. This is why every coach LOVES a great shooter.

Having the ability to come off screens and knock down shots or create space and

make a jumper is extremely valuable for every perimeter player. Without having

good shooters on offense the opposing team is able to pack the paint and shrink the


Shooters create space, which in turn creates options for others.

If you want to get on the court as much as possible then make your jumpshot so

lethal the head coach has to play. Your specialty may be catch and shoot, which

means you are more accurate when receiving a pass from a teammate like Klay

Thompson. The alternative would be an off the dribble shooter who creates his own

shot similar to a J.R. Smith. It does not matter what kind of “shooter” you want to be

but the skill must be in your repertoire one way or another.

Building this skill is a matter of form and repetition. Find a coach who will guide you

in the right direction and give you a solid foundation with form shooting. Once your

form is correct, then it is on you to make it accurate. This may include 400-500 shots

a day depending on how great you want to be. Work on the right side, left side, down

the middle, off one screen, off two screens, in the corner and everything in between.

I guarantee you, if you put the work in the ball will go in much more often for you.

The secret to shooting is that there is no secret. The best just put the work in.

Always remember this, “Shooters aren’t born, they are made.”

Lockdown Defender

Most players want to score. Most players what to make the assist that gets the

crowd on their feet. Most players want to make the sweet move that makes the

defender fall.

But most players don’t have what it takes to shut down the best player on the other


That leaves a huge opportunity for any player who may not be as skilled or athletic

as their teammates to get a chance to be on the floor. Finding your niche on the

defensive end of the floor does not usually get recognition in the media or by the

fans, which is why it is constantly overlooked. However, just because it sometimes

goes unnoticed does not mean it isn’t valuable.

All you need to be a good defender is toughness and the ultimate desire to get the

job done. You don’t have to spend countless hours in the gym fine tuning your craft

or making sure every step slide is perfect. You have to be ready and willing to give

your all for the entire game without every needing the ball in your hands and that is

a sacrifice most young players aren’t willing to make.

If you want to crack the starting five or play more minutes for your team, the

quickest way to do so is to prove to your coaches and teammates that nobody can

score on you. Take pride in the role of being a “lockdown defender”, because as we

mentioned earlier if the objective is to score and you’re on the floor. The other team

can’t win.