What Does A Shooting Guard Do In Basketball? Explained


In basketball when we think of a shooting guard we might think of Michael Jordan or James Harden, but what does a shooting guard do other than shoot the ball and score 20 plus points a game.

What does a shooting guard do in basketball? A shooting guard is also known as the number 2 position in basketball, and it is usually the best shooter on the team. A shooting guard’s success comes from getting open by using screens or cutting to the basket. Shooting guards do not need a lot of space to shoot the ball, they are efficient shooters from the midrange and the three-point line.

The shooting guard’s role does not consist of just shooting the ball. Some of these responsibilities may come to you as a surprise but are important and will be further explained.

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The Mental Game Of A Shooting Guard

The shooting guard position may be the most difficult position mentally for a player and the hardest to excel at for many reasons. This position requires to be able to consistently knock down the mid-range jumper and shoot well beyond the arc. While even that can be a challenge mentally.

Playing shooting guard my whole life I was never a very good ball-handler but could get by, the mental game of basketball can be very difficult and discouraging. Missing your first couple shots in a game can demoralize some players and ruin the rest of the game for them. I have seen players take themselves out of the game when they can’t buy a bucket.

Shooting slumps happen frequently, and the only way out of it is to consistently refine your shot and practice. While playing you have to shoot your way out of it and have the mentality that you believe every shot will go in. It can be extremely frustrating in which you are playing a game that you get all the open looks you want and can not make a basket.

The best advice for shooting guards and almost every athlete is this, shoot the shot believe it is going into the basket and whatever happens, happens do not dwell on the result. Have a short term memory, continue on the next play and don’t think about that outcome unless it is positive.

This is very difficult to do, but realistically speaking what will it matter.  You benefit in no way to think about missed shots, in fact, its detrimental to your game. The sooner you forget the negative result the better.

Put those bad shots, missed shots and turnovers in your memory bank and deal with it after the game and think about it once and then delete it.


The Physical Toughness Of A Shooting Guard

Shooting guards have to be strong and Physically tough, running around screens all while being hand-checked can take a toll on the body, this is why players need to be in very good shape. The 2 position may put the most mileage on your legs in a basketball game compared to any other position on the court.


What Does A Shooting Guard Do Besides Shoot?

The 2 position has many roles and responsibilities both offensively and defensively. On many teams, the point guard, shooting the guard and small forward are interchangeable on offense and either of the three positions will sometimes bring up the ball and run the point.


Shooting Guard (Sg) Role On Offense

  • Sg works extremely hard to get open for a shot. This draws more than one defender to the sg to prevent him from getting open, which can leave another player open for an easy basket.


  • Draws the defense from the open man who just set the screen for the sg. This is an easy and quick pass as the big man can dive to the basket.


  • Is a good passer, can get themselves out of trouble and find the open guy when the defense switches or double teams.


  • Player has good shot selection tailored to his game in which he has practiced countless hours on. Does not force up shots but when he does he knows and can self reflect that it was a bad decision.


  • Runs the Fast break and pushes the ball in transition.


  • Is the go-to for technical fouls and shots alike.



A Shooting Guards Role on Defense

  • It is much like anyone’s role on defense and is important.


  • Sg doesn’t save all their energy for offense, this will create a defensive liability.


  • Defends and switches if necessary, will play defense on the point guard.


  • Recognizes tempo shift, pushes the pace when the game calls for it.



Where does a shooting guard stand?

A shooting guard is positioned foul line extended outside the three-point line and close to the baseline. This will also depend on the offense and where he is positioned. This could mean that the player has a playset for him and technically could be standing anywhere on the court based on that offensive play.

A shooting guard does not just stand at the three-point line, in this position the player is constantly moving reading the defense looking for his next move and open gap. The player is rarely standing still and does not limit his ability to just shoot three-pointers.


Moving Without The Ball

Moving without the ball is just that when the player does not have the ball where is the player going what is his/her next move. This in itself, in my opinion, is one of the most important skills as a shooting guard. Yes, you need to be able to shoot the ball which is obvious but how to get open to shoot that ball with enough space to get the shot off is a skill in itself.

This is where a player’s basketball Intelligence or IQ is important. If you watch players like Klay Thompson and Devin Booker, pay attention to them while they don’t have the ball. you can take a look to see how they are moving and tirelessly trying to get open.

They may cut to the ball 10 times and not get a pass because they can not get open. But one thing remains is they will keep cutting and trying to outsmart the defender. Usually, it is the best defender that is defending the shooting guard from the opposing team.

So if you’re watching your favorite basketball player there are a number of things that you may see that are as  follows:

  • Running the court in transition.
  • Using the screens.
  • Moving with the penetration to an open spot.
  • Cutting to the basket.
  • Flaring out to the three-point line.
  • Rolling to the basket.
  • Cutting towards the ball, backdoor etc.
  • Burning your man when he turns his head to see the ball.
  • Tirelessly trying to get open.


This skill takes years to master and it is a grind to get open. Being mentally tough and persistent helps in this position. Always expect that you will get the ball and expect that you will knock down the shot. Rinse and repeat, as you get better you will find what works and what doesn’t.

There is a video series by Better Basketball in which I believe is the best video on this topic, and I have personally used. It is called Scoring Without the Ball, Click Here For the Video.


Closing Thoughts

As a shooting guard myself, I realize that success is not instant at any position in basketball and can take years to make progress depending on how much time you are willing to devote to your game. One thing is for certain, consistent hard work and dedication will get you there much faster.

Along the way make sure you are having fun with basketball, do not just play the game to learn watch what other players are doing, there is a wealth of knowledge like never before seen on youtube for free. Use it, take one thing and learn it. Do not overwhelm yourself with 5 things at once, or none of it may work for you.


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