The Myth of the Small Player as Point Guard

A couple of years ago, my friend asked me to come to his teams practice and help come up with something to beat a half court trap. I arrived at the practice, and as is my habit, started assessing the players as they warmed up figuring who would start for me, and who would be in the rotation. Practice proceeded for forty-five minutes before we worked against the half court trap. At this point, I was pretty comfortable with the players and who should play where, and was shocked when I asked my friend to put his starters out on the floor. Three good players were joined by two tiny, relatively unathletic “guards”. Players who I would not rate in the top eight of the team were apparently starting and playing extended minutes.

Outside the ear shot of the players, I told my friend that I figured out his problem with the half court trap and it’s easily solved. He was happy, but confused. I said I’ll put in a set I like to use and go over it, THEN I will solved the problem.

I introduced a two guard front with his best player in the high post to relieve pressure. We played for a few minutes with mixed results and then I removed the two tiny kids and replaced them with the other two kids that I felt should be starting. “My” point guard pick was a bigger kid with a thick body, but comfortable handle and skilled passer. Within a few plays the offense was clicking and scoring at will.

I asked my friend if he ever used my player as point guard and he said no, he’s a big. I asked if he thought the kid could handle the ball and pass. He agreed. I asked does he do those functions better than anyone else on your team. Again, he agreed. I think you found your new point guard.

He explained that the other two guards were good kids, smart, knew the plays and he couldnt play them anywhere else because they lacked size. I suggested that if that’s the case maybe they shouldn’t be playing at all.

I think it is a legitimate danger for coaches particularly at the youth to middle school level to appoint smaller kids point guards even where they lack the ability to play the spot. It is more important to remove any notion of size from the position, and find your point guard on who has the functional qualities to play the position instead.

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