Leadership on the basketball court

What does it take to be a leader on the basketball court? Do you have to be the superstar? Do you have to be the player that has been on the team for a long time.Or is it an attitude? Through the years I have played and coached basketball I have seen some key attributes of players with great leadership.

Common misconceptions of leadership

Before I talk about the traits and give you advice on how you can be a leader I think it’s best to address some of the common misconceptions of leadership.

To be leader on the basketball court, you do NOT have to be:

  • a superstar
  • the captain of the team
  • on the basketball court playing
  • on a proper basketball team like a rep side

Common traits of good leadership

Now that you know how to identify the common misconceptions of leadership let’s have a look at what it takes to be a good leader.

  • Vocal and always cheering on team and teammates.
  • Putting the team’s needs before his/ her. For example, not caring about how many points they score per game only cares about doing what is needed to win.
  • Doing the little things or the dirty work such as diving for loose balls, boxing out and taking charges.
  • Getting a team mates back when they are down and maintaining the confidence of the team.
  • Pulling a teammate into line when they do something that is against the team’s best interest. For example, laziness on defence and not playing to their fullest potential.
  • Representing the club well off the court. Yes, leadership extends off the court too. As a player and leader you represent your club on and off the court. Do not partake in activity that will bring disgrace to your team/ club. An example of this is being drunk and getting into fights where people around can identify you with the basketball club you play for.

How to become a leader on the basketball court

Now that you should know the basics of leadership how can this be applied to the game of basketball? Here’s some things that you can implement immediately to assume a leadership role for your basketball team.

  1. Start talking to your teammates and never stop. Keep encouraging your team and communicating to them even if you are on the bench. If you watch enough college basketball or NBA you see the cheer squad on the bench. Guys always talking non stop. There’s a video of Lebron James during team USA camp talking to his teammates calling defensive plays. This is the same behaviour that you need to adopt and coaches absolutely love.
  2. Lead the team by playing your hardest on defence; dive for loose balls, box out and get after every rebound. This behaviour wins you a lot of respect from coaching staff and players. This attitude is also contagious and other players lift and play hard as a result.
  3. Know the offences your team runs from each spot on the floor. Knowing the offence in it’s entirety allows you to control the floor and direct your team. Without knowing the offence back to front directing your team is impossible. You should be able to run the offence from each position on the floor.
  4. Have a close relationship with your coach. It’s not imperative but it does help when you have a close relationship with your coach. If you want to be the leader on the team, working with your coach to understand his expectations and his game plan will enable you to better direct your teammates.

    You can develop a relationship such as this by having constant catch ups to discuss upcoming games and get into his frame of mind. Most coaches will like having such engagement from their players.

  5. Come to every game and training session earlier than everyone else. This is a simple thing to do and it has it’s added benefits to doing this. Not only do you get your eye in and get a great warm up but other players will see this as commitment.

    When your teammates see that you are committed they have a sense of respect for you and leading them is all that much easier.

Basketball players with good leadership skills is hard to come by these days and unfortunately it isn’t something that is coached. Be that standout player that takes charge and motivates his team. You’ll find your teammates will feed off your energy and you will take over as the alpha male in the group.

It could be you that people watch on TV playing basketball

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