4 Tips for Building a Better Basketball IQ

A good player who is also a student of the game is always going to have an advantage over the competition.

Quick—what makes a good basketball player?

While you probably began thinking of traits like accurate shooting, effective ball handling, good rebounding, etc., a high basketball IQ is actually the most important trait to being a great player. While most players know that having a high basketball IQ is important, they don't spend much time or energy trying to improve this part of their game.

With that in mind, here are four effective ways for youth basketball players to increase their basketball IQ.

1. Watch to Learn

If you are a true basketball player, there is a really good chance you enjoy watching a lot of basketball. You most likely have a few different favorite players and a favorite team that you watch consistently. But watching basketball isn't just a time to relax—it can be a great time to learn! Don't just watch the game to enjoy it as a fan, but watch it as a student of the game. Make notes of different moves, plays and details that make these players and teams elite. You can learn a lot simply by watching different games and trying to pick up on the little things that make great players and great teams successful.

To go one step further, you can hone in on players known for specific elite traits and watch what allows them to excel in that area. If a player is known for grabbing offensive rebounds, watch how they jockey for position as soon as their team launches up a shot. If a player is known for his excellent shot-blocking skills, watch how they time their jump and stay vertical so they don't get called for fouls. Simply paying a bit more attention while watching games can take a mindless activity and turn it into something much more productive.

2. Find Great Resources

There has never been an easier time in history to get information on a subject, and basketball is no different. The amount of great information online is amazing, so take advantage of it! STACK is an excellent resource, but you can also follow a number of top trainers, coaches and analysts on social media. Three good Twitter accounts to start with:

  • @bballbreakdown (an account that breaks down fundamentals or lack thereof using clips from NBA games)
  • @PureSweat (strategic skills coach for several elite NBA players)
  • @BballCoachMac (youth basketball coach dedicated to enhancing basketball IQ and skills of youth players and the people who coach them)

Following these types of basketball experts is a great way to gradually increase your basketball IQ just by spending time on social media as you may normally do.

3. Ask Questions

Sometimes it is perceived as "uncool" to ask questions, but that's one of the dumbest stigmas out there. The players who ask questions are usually the ones who learn the quickest. If you don't understand something that your coach is talking about or simply have a question about how to handle a certain on-court situation, ask your coach or a knowledgeable basketball expert. You might not be able to ask your question right in the middle of practice, but good coaches find time for players who are genuinely hungry to learn. And don't just ask questions to ask them—ask questions to gather insights that you'll use during practices and games.

4. Learn From Other Players

Another great way to improve your basketball IQ is to learn from players who have a more advanced basketball IQ than you do. This will often be older players or players with more experience. If you note the coach consistently praising a player's basketball IQ, figure out why. Be a sponge and soak up all of the information that you can from them. If you play pick-up with older and more experienced players, watch how the intelligent players approach the game and how they impact their team in a positive manner. This will help you become a much smarter player and will allow you to have a much better understanding of the game.

It's hard to stop a player who has the skills, but it's nearly impossible to stop that same player if they also have the basketball IQ required to make the most of their skills.

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