5 Positions of High School Basketball

Let’s take a look at the five positions of high school basketball and the roles they play on the court.  Typically, you have dominant players on a high school team at a few positions since basketball is such a skill sport.  It’s hard to have strong players at every position so teams tend to lean more to the strengths of where ever their best players are.  Ideally, you have a well-rounded attack so let’s look at the positions and how they function.

People tend to use different names for the positions interchangeably.  You either hear the traditional point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center or you hear the number naming system of 1 (point guard), 2 (shooting guard), 3 (small forward), 4 (power forward), and 5 (center).  Either way is fine since their roles on the court is the same.  Let’s go through the individual positions first before describing how they work together on a well-balanced high school basketball team.

The point guard, or 1 position really runs the offense in most schemes.  He or she is generally the best ball handler and passer.  The point guard should have great dribbling skills, ideally with both hands since this position needs to bring the ball up and set-up the D.  The defense may press or try to steal the ball when it’s being brought up so a point guard has to be able to manage one on one while dribbling which can be tough.  He also starts most of the plays so passing needs to be crisp and really, the ability to “see the floor” is probably the most important trait.  Making good decisions as a point guard and offset more limited physical abilities on the court.  Turn overs is the nemesis of the point guard.

The shooting guard or 2 position is pretty self explanatory.  This is traditionally the best shooter on the floor.  The 3 point line has added significant importance to this position and the shooting guard today is usually pretty strong behind the arc.  The 2 guard is generally smaller than forwards but really, it’s a function of how well he or she shoots that makes this position critical.  The 2 guard can also float away from the action to shoot when passed to from a driving guard or small forward.

The small forward or 3 position is one of the most versatile on the floor and is expected to wear many hats.  The small forward is generally not adept at post moves (back to the basket) and might not be as good a shooter as the shooting guard but he or she is crafty, quick, and multi-talented.  It’s really a transitional position between the point guard and power forward and they score any way they can.  They may shoot from outside given the opportunity or play inside the paint.  Generally, they’re pretty athletic and they need to be.

The power forward or 4 position is a dominant one on the floor if you have the right talent.  They sometimes interchange with the center and spend lots of time close to the basket.  They can post (back to the basket) or go straight up against a defender to shoot or drive while facing the basket.  They are dominant rebounders and will pick up lots of rebounds and potential shots on weak side from the center.  They’re equally versatile to the small forward with more of an inside game.

The center or 5 position is typically you’re biggest player or your player that’s most dominant inside.  They spend most of their time around the basket and paint and most of their moves start with their back to basket in a post position.  They need to be strong rebounders but more importantly, strong defenders of everything in the paint.  This affects not only the person they’re guarding but any guards or forwards that drive into the paint.  They need to run the inside.

This is a quick introduction to the 5 basic positions of high school basketball and there are many variations on any given team to basic set-up based on that high school’s core capabilities.  We’ll address each position in detail in other articles.

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