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44 Traits of Great Players

Stronger Team’s Alan Stein has spent a ton of time, up close and personal, observing truly great players – guys like LeBron, KD, CP3 and Stephen Curry.

Below is his list of the characteristics great players showcase every day… in every practice and in every game.

You know my favorite part about this list?

Every trait on this list is 100% controllable!

They are characteristics you choose to have.  They are traits for males and females. They are traits for high school players and college players.

Not everyone can be 6’8”. Not everyone can jump out of the gym. But everyone can make the conscious choice to work on and to improve these 44 traits of great players (in no particular order).

  1. Great players go after every rebound on both ends of the floor – they are crafty and aggressive.
  2. Great players run the floor as fast as possible on fast breaks and defensive transition.
  3. Great players are defensive stoppers – they stop their man as well as help teammates. They do the things offensive players hate!
  4. Great players contest all shots. They don’t go for ball fakes or shot fakes. They deflect passes, bump cutters, and take charges.
  5. Great players don’t gamble on offense or defense. They aim to make the right play, not the highlight play.
  6. Great players are strong with the ball. They rip through hard on offense, ‘chin’ all rebounds, and don’t expose the ball when dribbling.
  7. Great players play under control and play at different speeds. They know that playing slow can be very effective.
  8. Great players practice just as hard as they play in games. They don’t have an On and Off Switch – they are always on!
  9. Great players allow themselves to be coached. They make eye contact, listen, and welcome coaching. They crave getting better.
  10. Great players are great teammates. They are supportive, high energy, and make their enthusiasm contagious.
  11. Great players Play Present. They focus on the process, not the outcome. They focus on what they can control. They don’t get distracted.
  12. Great players take advantage of every opportunity to get better. Every workout, every practice, and every game is a chance to improve.
  13. Great players are mentally and physically tough. They are comfortable being uncomfortable.
  14. Great players can pivot both ways off of either foot and can dribble, pass, and finish around the basket with either hand. They don’t have a ‘weak’ hand.
  15. Great players love and respect the game of basketball. They don’t play for money or fame.
  16. Great players are unselfish passers. They hit open teammates. They know the goal is to get the best shot; not their best shot.
  17. Great players don’t commit stupid fouls.  They know their greatness is eliminated if they are on the bench in foul trouble.
  18. reat players are students of the game. They watch film. They study opponents. They study themselves.
  19. Great players value every possession.  They aren’t careless with ball. They make smart passes and take high percentage shots.
  20. Great players don’t wait for the workout or practice or game to start… they prepare for it! They prepare mentally and physically.
  21. Great players are super competitive. They hate losing more than they enjoy winning. They compete in everything they do.
  22. Great players always know the time and score. They know how many time-outs they have as well as who is in foul trouble on both teams.
  23. Great players log the game in their mind. At any point in time, they can tell you exactly what happened, on both ends of the floor, the last 3 possessions.
  24. Great players are assertive with the ball, welcome contact when driving to the cup, and get to the free throw line.
  25. Great players immediately think Next Play. They don’t dwell on mistakes (missed shot or turnover). Instead, they make up for it on the other end.
  26. Great players make plays, not excuses. They don’t care if the refs suck, if the floor is slippery, or if they have a cold. They get it done.
  27. Great players are the first ones in the gym… and the last ones to leave every day.
  28. Great players don’t worry about getting exposure. Instead they focus on never getting exposed!
  29. Great players elevate their teammates to become great players too.
  30. Great players know that their legacy will be judged on their ability to win, not personal accolades or stats.
  31. Great players would rather play ball than anything else.  They truly love to play.
  32. Great players are well-rounded and have a complete game.  They can hurt you in a variety of ways.
  33. Great players are top-notch communicators.  They talk with a presence on both ends of the floor.
  34. Great players want the ball in their hands when the game is on the line because they know they have put in the work to deserve success.
  35. Great players practice with a purpose. They are focused and intense. Nothing they do on the court is casual.
  36. Great players give back to their program and are humble and grateful for what basketball has done for them.
  37. Great players are responsible for tone and effort of the entire team… every practice and every game.
  38. Great players hold themselves, their teammates, and their coaches accountable. They believe in collective responsibility
  39. Great players play in straight lines and sharp angles. They make hard basket cuts and set solid screens.
  40. Great players love playing and competing against other great players.
  41. Great players know that no detail is too small and that the smallest of details can make them even better.
  42. Great players have high values. They value their teammates, winning, and self-improvement.
  43. Great players are never content and never complacent.
  44. Great players inspire everyone around them (teammates and coaches).

Are you up for the challenge? Are you ready to start being a great player?

Here's Coach Rick with an interesting way to prevent some foul calls...


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about rick torbett

Rick Torbett has taught thousands of coaches to win more games through his innovative approach to the game. He has created powerful training for coaches at any level so they can coach their best and win more games.

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Read & React 5-Player Coordination Drills

Enter your email address to get an inside look at teaching the Read & React Offense with the drills in this free video.