Basketball Players' Positions


Basketball Players' Positions

Get the lowdown on the five main basketball positions and roles in a team with our quick guide.

Get the lowdown on the five main basketball positions and roles in a team with our quick guide.

Each basketball team has a squad of 10 players to choose from, with a maximum of five allowed on the court at any one time. There are five main basketball positions on the court, with each player responsible for both trying to score and preventing the opposition scoring. But each player will be better at a particular skill whether it be shooting, playmaking or defending.

The main basketball positions are as follows:

  • Point guard
  • Shooting guard
  • Small forward
  • Centre
  • Power forward
  • Substitutes

Point guard

The guards are usually the smallest players in the team and play most of their game away from the basket in both offensive and defensive situations. The point guard will be an excellent ball-handler and essentially the ‘playmaker’ running most of the side’s attacking plays. They are also known as the ‘lead guard’ or ‘one guard’.

Shooting guard

This player is a skilled long-range shooter, and shares duties in attack and defense with the point guard, but can also play in tandem with the ‘small forward’ in a wide offensive role. They are often referred to as the ‘two guard’ or the ‘off guard’.

Small forward

Usually the more agile of the two forwards, many attacking moves originate from this position. A vital skill in the locker should be the ability to score with medium-range shot, but the small forward will also be expected to get his fair share of rebounds as well as covering defensive duties. They are also called ‘point forward’.

Power forward

The larger of the two forwards, the power forward specialises in the rebounds and defense. The player will play on the wing like the small forward but will tend to move in towards the basket to support the centre.


The centre is likely to be the tallest player and will spend the majority of their time under the basket. During an attack, the centre will usually take a position under the hoop and with his back to it, in order to receive the pass or protect a teammate in possession. The other players tend to revolve around the centre in these situations. In defense, the centre will take on shot blocking and rebound duties. They are often called the ‘big man’ or ‘post player’.

Basketball substitutes

A team member who is not actually performing on the court is a substitute. The sub becomes a player when they are allowed by the official to enter the court in place of another player who will leave the court (be substituted).

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