How to Improve your Basketball IQ

Basketball Intelligence is measured by the way you play the game of basketball and how well you can anticipate what will happen based on your prior knowledge. The best players on the court often have the highest Basketball IQ. If you take a look at college basketball, nearly every player can pass, dribble and shoot. Nearly all of them can dunk and are far more athletic than the average individual. What would set them apart? Sure, some are superior in skill, but the biggest difference comes from the players who truly understand the game and those who don’t. Here are a few ways to increase your Basketball IQ and become the coach on the floor.

Become a Student of the Game

Just as any subject in school or profession in the workplace, to be good you have to study. Thankfully for you, the game of basketball is not a boring textbook filled with vocabulary terms. Instead, it is a fast-paced, acrobatic art form played by some of the greatest talent in the world. Find your favorite players that are similar in ability and play the same position as you. Watch every game, highlight, film, workout and practice you possibly can from these players. Then watch old clips online of previous players who played your position. Figure out your weaknesses and watch the best players at it to see how you can improve. Constantly find new ways to enhance your skillset. In this sport, stealing a move or two is perfectly fine, just ask Kobe.

After studying players, take a look at some of the best coaches and their philosophies. Watch their teams play, listen to interviews, read their books and try to understand the game from their point of view. The cerebral part of the game of basketball can be just as vital as your skillset. Coaches like Popovich, Jackson and Kerr can help you master that as well.

Play Against Better Competition

Find the oldest kid on the playground, best player in the area and stiffest competition in your age group and play against them. As often as you can play against the best if you want to have a chance of being as good as them one day. Growing up we were forced to play 2, 3 sometimes 4 years up in order to prepare us for the next level. At the time the task was daunting, but when we played against our own age group we were so superior it was unfair. That is the type of distance you need to create between you and your peers if you ever want to reach the Division 1 or pro-level.

The best players will teach you how to react faster, play stronger and be smarter. They will also perform moves that you can use for yourself in the future. I can’t even recall the amount of times I played against an older player who used a move on me that I stole the next day. The road to becoming great is a difficult one, but playing the best will get you there the fastest.

Play, Play, Play

If you want to be good you have to play. I cannot stress this enough. Now a day’s players like to do skill work a few times a week and only play against competition on the weekends. Yes, your skills will be good but you are preparing to be a practice player. Work on your game, but make time to use it against an opponent as well. You never know how good you are becoming until you put the skills to the test.

Find pickup games or players your age that are willing to work with you. It will help with holding each other accountable during the workout, and give you a great partner to work against. Playing every chance you get will give you a feel for the game that watching and practicing by yourself just can’t.

To develop that Basketball IQ, watch film, play against older players and learn to love the game of basketball. To become a true master, you must love what you do and put your 10,000 hours in.


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