7 Characteristics of a Great Basketball Player

1. Toughness



Toughness is not to be confused with fighting or fouling a player hard. I'm talking about mental toughness. True toughness is the ability to set a great screen, box out every play, take a charge, execute a play under pressure, make a big shot. All great players have this quality in a big way!

2. Work Ethic

If being great was easy everyone would be a star. The reality is greatness takes a lot of time and effort. In economics "opportunity cost" is defined as "A benefit, profit, or value of something that must be given up to acquire or achieve something else."  This applies to basketball development in a big way with younger players. If you decide to play video games 2 hours a day, the "opportunity cost" = 2 hours that you could have been training. Great players make sure that their time is spent efficiently and with a purpose. 

3. Attitude

Sure there are examples of excellent players with bad attitudes, but they are few and far between and more importantly, they never win championships. Great players deal with success and failure with a level head and never look to blame a teammate, ref, or coach. They understand that failure is a building block to future success, and always project a positive and upbeat attitude in practice and in games. "I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed." - Michael Jordan

4. Motor

This can apply to even those players with a great work ethic. Some players "coast" or don't sprint the floor. Possibly giving the impression that it's not "cool" for them to be seen working too hard by their peers or fans. MISTAKE! The great players can care less what their peers or fans think of them and only care about their team and executing the game plan to achieve a victory. Crashing the boards, sprinting the floor, cutting at high speeds, and guarding with intensity all are winning habits shared by great players and loved by coaches. 

5. Body Language

Ever see a player shake his head in disgust at a teammate for not passing? How about shaking off a coach's instruction? Slumping shoulders? These are all examples of poor body language. Here is the hard truth, no matter what is going on in your mind at the time that makes you react in those ways, NOBODY CARES! Bad body language leads to poor play, bad team chemistry, and in many cases the bench. If a college coach sees a player exhibiting this behavior you can be sure he will not recruit that player. Great players have tremendous body language. They are clapping, talking to teammates, communicating with their coaches, and giving great eye contact during timeouts and in huddles. 

6. Competitive

"Let's play 1 on 1 for fun and not keep score..." You will be hard pressed to find a great player who is interested in that game. Great players are competitors in every aspect of their lives. They play checkers or table tennis like their lives depend on it. This drive to win is what pushes them to be great. 

7. Skill

Legendary high school coach, Gary Palladino always said "skill will divide" and he is still right on that point even today. At the end of the day, all great players possess the skill to separate themselves from their peers. The ability to shoot, dribble, pass, defend or rebound are all skills required to be great. In order for a player to build skill, he/she must be willing to put exceptional amounts of time into his/her craft. All of the great players have a "skill routine" that they perform regularly and all great players identify their weaknesses and work tirelessly to turn them into strengths. 

-Jason Shea, Head Basketball Coach: Notre Dame West Haven, CT