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A Guide to: On-court Communication


NBA

Getting on the same page


Anyone who has played basketball extensively can attest to the value of verbal communication. Basketball is hardly a quiet sport, filled with shouts and play calls throughout the course of a game. These are definitely more than just chit-chat, serving an important role within any team. It is no surprise that point guards do the bulk of talking on offense, while centers may take on this role on defense, as their on-court positioning allows them to view the entire floor at the same time.


Cuts and switches: On defense, you will frequently be forced to rotate, even if you are playing a man-to-man defense. By switching, you are often able to cover more ground at a faster rate in dealing with the flurry of off-ball movements, but this is only true if you communicate. You have to call out calls and switches, particularly in respond to backdoor cuts where your teammate’s visual field may be partially blocked.


Screens: An ideal screen is an unexpected one, leaving the primary defender no time to figure out how to fight through the screen or adjust. However, teammates can be a great help in this area, by calling out potential screens and their direction in advance, so that the primary defender will not have to take his or her eyes off the ball. In addition, the teammates are in a better position to judge and call out an appropriate response, such as to switch or to hedge.


Play-calling: Within an organized basketball setting, play-calling will be essential on offense by ensuring that every offensive player is on the same page. Even if you do not have complex plays to run, you can also signal for screens whenever an appropriate situation arises, instead of simply waiting for your teammate to take the lead.


Positioning: If your team’s positioning is not effective, you should communicate this to your teammates instead of taking it into your own hands. For instance, when too many bigs cramp the paint or when the spacing is too wide for crisp, safe passes to be thrown, your personal adjustments may be counter-productive as your teammates may move in unexpected ways as well.