How to Dominate as a Center in Basketball
5 Tips for a Center
1. Develop a Variety of Post Moves
At some point, most coaches have seen a physically imposing center who provides a presence, but his only chance to score is an easy drop step layup or open putback at the rim.
However, a great center needs to have a number of different post moves that they can execute with their back to the basket.
True post players have become fewer and further between in this era of basketball.
In fact, most teams don’t play with a true center at all...
So a big, tall player who probably isn’t as quick as most others or as comfortable on the perimeter needs to have multiple ways to score inside in order to be established as part of an offense.
A dominant center should have a go-to move, a very reliable secondary move, and then also be able to add counters to those moves.
2. Play 1-on-1 Defense in the Post
A dominant defensive center is typically a shot blocker.
But simply being tall will not automatically mean that a player will be spiking every opponent’s shot off the backboard.
Blocking shots - and just playing good post defense in general - requires toughness, anticipation, and coordination.
Playing 1-on-1 against an offensive player on the block will help a center develop those skills, and getting a number of repetitions in a row will help build the necessary conditioning as well.
3. Become a Great Free Throw Shooter
The most common way that an opposing coach will try to limit the effectiveness of a dominant center is by forcing him to score at the free throw line instead of giving up open post moves.
It has proven to be incredibly effective in some situations, especially against big men who are far below average free throw shooters.
After all, “Hack-A-Shaq” is still one of the most commonly used phrases in defensive basketball strategy many years after it was implemented.
A great center needs to be able to step up to the free throw line and knock down shots at a high rate so that he can not be taken advantage of by opposing teams.
Free throw shooting becomes even more important in late game situations, and if the center is your best player, you want to be able to leave them in the game during crunch time.
But if they can’t be trusted to make free throws, then you probably won’t want them on the court in those big moments.
4. Work on Outside Shooting
As mentioned above, the time of true centers has largely come and gone in today’s basketball world.
It has become much more common to see different varieties of “small-ball” or positionless basketball, especially at higher levels.
Therefore, a center will only make himself more valuable if he is also able to at least provide a threat to shoot a jump shot.
Long range shooting isn’t necessary for centers, and it is extremely rare for the center to be considered a knock down shooter.
But even the willingness to shoot from 10-15 feet can add an entirely different dimension that can be very difficult for most opposing centers to defend.
If a center can step out and be a threat from 3-point range, too, then he has the potential to become unstoppable.
5. Get in the Weight Room
While shooting and other ball skills can be a great addition to a center’s game, they will never be truly necessary or expected to play the position.
Strength is absolutely essential to the success of a big man who aims to control the paint.
Spend time weight training to get your body to a point where it can physically take on the responsibility and toll of playing center.
A center can be a focal point of a team offense and a team defense if they have the size and physicality to provide a real presence on both ends of the court.
However, the center can completely change the game if they also have the skills and athleticism to control the rebounding battle, score in the paint, and block shots.
Though the position has become less and less common in recent years, a truly dominant center who has the ability to impact the game as an offensive threat and also a defensive stopper will make your team a matchup nightmare for opposing coaches.