5 Tips For High School Centers

In high school basketball, mastering five fundamentals is very important for the center position; defense, rebounding, passing, shot selection, and shooting free throws.

At the high school level, mastering the fundamentals of basketball is very important for any position, especially the center position. Despite an increase in outside shooting and the love of the three point shot, most basketball games are still won "in the paint." There are five important elements of basketball fundamentals; defense, rebounding, passing, shot selection, and shooting free throws.

Defense is more difficult to play than offense. In the game of basketball, the offense has the advantage. The game was just simply designed to be that way. The most important thing in playing good defense is learning how to move your feet effectively and getting in position to challenge an opponent's shot. Centers are usually not the quickest players on the court and thus proper foot movement is more critical to centers than say guards who can use their quickness to make up for improper foot movement. Most centers get into foul trouble when they reach with their hands instead of moving their feet, getting into proper position. Get into proper position first, and then use your hands to block a shot, make a shot more difficult or steal a pass.

Another key to good defense is anticipation. Study your opponent's tendencies, strengths and weaknesses. Good defense is taking away your opponent's strengths and forcing them into taking shots they are uncomfortable with or making their normal offensive game so difficult, they abandon it and begin to play the style of offense you want them to.

In man to man defense, the object is to stay between the player you are guarding and the basket. The more you do this, the more difficult time your opponent will have shooting, passing, rebounding and setting screens. Never watch a player's head or shoulders when guarding them. They can move their head or shoulders one way and move another, faking you out. Instead, watch their mid section. Their mid section has to go in the direction their legs go.

In a zone defense, play your area and don't worry about other areas. For the center, this is usually the paint area between the free throw line and boundary underneath the basket. Again, moving your feet and anticipation are critical to success. Get into position first and then use your hands. Always keep your hands up, ready to defend or rebound.

Centers will be expected to be one of the better rebounders on the team. Good rebounding techniques are similar to defense. Staying in between a player and the basket is important to good rebounding. If you are in good defensive position, this is easier. Boxing out is an important technique to master. When rebounding on the offensive end, make sure you have proper position before aggressively going for the rebound. Many centers are called for fouls while trying to rebound on the offensive glass.

Centers will be double teamed and the paint gets crowded quite often. Learning good passing skills is important to any center. If a center is double teamed, someone on his team has to be open. Learning to find where the double team comes from and finding the open man is an important skill at any level. Centers can also pass from the high post to other players in the low post. Develop a touch and feel for good passes. Throwing too hard or in the wrong spot disrupts a player's rhythm. Soft passes are often deflected or stolen by the defense. The art of bounce passing must be mastered. Bounce passes are more difficult to steal and often get a player moving in the proper direction. A good bounce pass is caught by a player between the knees and mid section.

A center needs to have good shot selection. Choose shots you can do well and avoid ones you do not do well. Most centers do not need to be shooting 3 pointers. One shot a center should be good at is a hook or half hook shot. This shot is difficult to block or even guard. A good center can usually shoot a hook shot with either hand. A medium range jump shot (12-15 feet) is another important shot for a center. If a player has to respect that shot, he can not focus on guarding in the paint. This makes the defense work harder and a center's offensive role easier.

Whether passing or shooting, a center must always hold the ball with two hands over his head. Bringing the ball down to chest level or lower gives shorter players better chances of stealing the ball. Centers must develop the skill of shooting or passing with the ball beginning over his head.

Finally, a center will be fouled quite often and earn many trips to the free throw line. Basketball is a physical game in the paint. Shooting free throws well will give a center an advantage on the defense. If they know you shoot free throws well, they will be less aggressive and this will give you more freedom to shoot the shots you want. Shooting free throws well is also a way to get easy points, while you rest. There are basic mechanics to shooting free throws but, many styles are successful. The most important thing to good free throw shooting is concentration; on the mechanics and the basket.

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