How Do You Watch Games - - Be a Student of the Game!

The NCAA Tournament is in full swing, meaning there is no shortage of games on TV. For basketball fans, this is the best time of the year. From the cinderella stories to the friendly competition of bracket pools, we can easily become consumed during this tournament. It is easy for even those who usually don’t follow basketball to become fans for a few weeks. But what if you are striving to become a great player? Part of maturing as an athlete is becoming a student of your sport. The older and more serious you get about basketball, the more important it becomes to be a student of the game. This involves placing value on more important things than dunks, blocks, and crossovers. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the highlights, but it is beneficial to your growth as a player to look for the details of the game.

Here are some things you can do when you watch to become a student of the game.

Get your eyes off the ball

Watch how players move without the ball. How do they set screens? How do they read screens? What do they do after they screen? It is great to watch the really good teams to see what efficient movement is. But it can also be helpful to watch bad teams to see what things shouldn’t look like. Think back to your game film during the season and compare to the good teams and the bad teams.

Follow your position

Find a good player who plays the same position as you and watch how they play the position. Not just when they have the ball, but also when they are away from the ball. How do they transition from defense to offense? Or offense to defense? How are they being successful at their position?

Watch defense

Especially a good defensive team. Where are they positioned away from the ball? What is their footwork like on and off the ball? Where are their hands? Great defensive teams are easy to point out: they win.


Maybe the most important aspect of becoming a student of the game to actually watch basketball games. Don’t settle for 2k or Sportscenter. Watch whole games. There’s nothing wrong with watching NBA games, but make sure you watch some college games as well. The high-achieving mid-major teams are often the most fundamental. The reason for this is because NBA players are a different type of athlete. The things that NBA players are doing are not realistic for high school players to emulate. Make sure you mix in some high level college basketball and study what being great at the fundamentals entails.