Basketball on the Edge – Simple Ways Any Player Can Increase Their Basketball IQ

If you watch or listen to basketball on tv or radio you will often hear analysts, experts, and coaches talking about basketball IQ. Some players have a high basketball IQ, others not so much. What exactly does it mean to have a high basketball IQ? Simply put, players with a high basketball IQ make the right play at the right time during the course of a game. Basketball requires multiple split second decisions to be made all the time as players react to what happens out on the floor. Players must decide whether to take a shot or pass to a teammate, to help on defense or stay with their own player, to pop out and receive a pass or cut backdoor. All of these decisions must be made constantly under the pressure and fast pace of game play. Players with a high basketball IQ are those that are able to process all of the available information and quickly choose the “right” basketball play.

The best way to develop a high basketball IQ is simple. Build your skills and spend more time playing the game. The combination of deliberate practice and putting yourself in game situations is the fastest way to improve your basketball IQ. Short squad games are a great way to get more opportunities to build basketball skills and improve decision making.

What about during time away from the court? What are some simple things a young player can do to improve their basketball IQ during times they are not playing or practicing?

1. Keep a journal

This is a great way to have a record of everything you’re doing to get better as a player. Great players have a plan. Writing down what you learned will help you remember so you can apply your newly acquired knowledge in your next workout, practice, or game. A journal is also a good source of motivation to keep you accountable. You will want to learn and practice more if you know that at the end of the day you’ll have to record your daily activity and learning. Refer back to your journal frequently to build your basketball IQ.

2. Make an “I Did” list.

At the end of each day, write down what you accomplished as a basketball player that day. You can add this “I Did” list to your journal. Writing down your accomplishments will help you reflect on how productive you were, what you learned and how you can re-structure your workout plans for the next day. Each time you write an “I Did” statement, your basketball IQ will be growing.

3. Instead of playing video games or watching tv, study great players.

Don’t waste countless hours playing video games or watching mindless tv shows. With YouTube you can watch video clips of NBA players and learn from the very best in the game. Focus in on the footwork of great players and you’ll see techniques that you can begin to incorporate into your game as your skills level improves. Watch the action away from the ball to learn how great players cut, set screens, and move without the ball. Watch how defenders work together to provide help for their teammates. These are all small details that you can learn by watching video. Then, take what you’ve learned out on the court to increase your basketball IQ.

4. Read books about basketball.

There are many great books available for free at your local library that can help you improve your basketball IQ. Take a few minutes to browse through shelves and pick out a book or two that will increase your knowledge of the game. If you are looking for one book to read that will definitely increase your basketball IQ, I highly recommend “Stuff Good Players Should Know”, by Dick DeVenzio. This book is full of simple tips that will help you think the game better!

5. Ask questions.

This might be off the court, it might be on the court, but asking questions is a great way to learn. Ask your coach what skills you need to improve. Then ask them to show you a drill you can use to improve that skill. Ask an older player about their experiences in the game or how they handled certain situations when they were your age. Ask a teammate to help you understand a certain play or defensive assignment that you may be struggling with. Asking the right questions will get you the right answers that can improve your basketball IQ.

There is no substitute for hard work and effort out on the court, but f you want to be a great player, you can also take advantage of your time off the court to improve your basketball IQ. Try to become one of those players that coaches and teammates love. One that always makes the “right” play because of their high basketball IQ.

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