How to Play Center in Basketball

One of the most important positions on the basketball court is the center. The center is responsible for making close-up baskets on offense and stopping baskets on defense.

Work on the Basic Shots a Center Needs

Make short jump shots from within 6 feet of the basket. Leap high to clear a defender.

Practice powerful layup shots. A layup requires jumping high near the basket and rolling the ball off your fingertips so it touches the backboard around 6 inches above and to the side of the basket. The ball should bounce off the backboard and into the basket. Practice layups with both hands individually.

Develop a short hook shot. A hook shot takes place by shooting the ball with the hand farthest from the defender, with the opposite side of your body facing the defender (put a shoulder near the defender) and the goal. With a circular motion, bring the basketball up over your shoulder, over the defender and into the basket.

Fake a shot by moving your body as if taking a shot to cause a defender to move, then take the shot.

Play Offense as a Center

Run down the floor quickly to get in position for a quick layup if you are open.

Stay near the basket while your team has the ball. Move in and out of the "paint" (painted free throw lane in front of the basket) quickly to get open for the basketball and a shot.

Look for the open man to pass the ball to if you are well defended and don't have a good open shot at the basket.

Take the shot with one of the basic basketball shots you have practiced. The more shots you know well, the more opportunities you will create to score.

Box out by placing your body between the basket and the defender when a teammate takes a shot at the basket.

Move fast and grab balls bouncing off the rim or backboard when a teammate misses a shot.

Play Good Defense as a Center

Rush back to the goal you are defending to keep the other team from scoring quickly.

Take up space by playing wide with your legs and arms spread out more than on offense.

Block shots as often as possible by positioning yourself between the shooter and the basket and extending your arms as high as possible. When the opponent jumps to take a shot, jump as high as you can and try to hit the ball with one hand.

Get in the paint to stop players who are attempting to run at the basket with a layup and then block the shot.

Box out again when the opposing team shoots by putting your body between the basket and the other team.

Grab loose balls bouncing off the rim or backboard to take possession of the ball for your team.