What basketball skills takes a player to the next level?

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Part 2 The defense

A players defensive skills are the most important skills for most players regarding going to a higher level to play or not. Some players with extra-ordinary skills might advance anyway due to physique or a special offensive skill. But for most players its their ability to defend which lets them advance to the next level.

Is this just something coaches say to make players work on their defense because a  lot of coaches like defense? I would say that the main reason defense is important is that a player who moves up has first to adapt to the speed in the practise and the new group and at the same time to stay on the floor. Because staying on the floor both in practise and in games is important, that’s quite easy, right?

When playing a game most coaches sub out players who can’t defend, who get blown by or stand on their heels, and who get fouls. A good defender doesn’t pick up unnecessary fouls, or at least not as many as other players on the team. And in tough and intense games their will be a lot of contact, their will be fouls, players will be in foul trouble. And who do you think will play? Good defenders!

Another good thing to have in mind is that in a team the balance of players is very important. Having five players on the floor at the same time who wants to shoot the ball and make the important shots might cause problems. A team needs good screeners, rebounders, players who run the floor, who moves without the ball, who cuts and create space for the “scorers”. Combining some of these qualities with good defence creates the type of player that every team wants to have. The type of player who doesn’t make the final shots, the player who’s statistics is not the most fancy, but who adds so much to the team by just getting the job done.

It all comes down to if a player has the desire to be that kind of player. For example, is statistics like 20 minutes, 0/1 shots, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 fouls something to strive for? Well, I would say that if a coach keep that player on the floor it’s most likely because he or she plays hard and good defense and is a solid offensive player. And “to play” is definitely important when moving up to a higher level. This is the first phase. Then with further development the team and the coach might use the player for other things at all parts of the floor and the game.

I wish you players good luck working on your close-outs, slide-steps and taking charges and shutting other players down.

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