The Complete Guide to Playing Center

The Center is usually the tallest and strongest player on the court. Because of these things, the Center is known for blocking shots and grabbing rebounds. They can also be dominant on the offensive end of the court by scoring in the paint.

Some of the greatest players in the history of the game played the Center positions.

Bill Russell

Playing Center in Basketball

11x NBA Champion and 5x NBA MVP

Shaquille O'Neal

Centers in Basketball

4x NBA Champion, 3x Finals MVP, 1x NBA MVP

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

NBA Center Position

6x NBA Champion and 6x NBA MVP

Hakeem Olajuwon

How to Play Center Position

2x NBA Champion, 2x Finals MVP, 1x NBA MVP

Do you want to join this list of great players? If so, you need to know what it takes to fill the Center spot for your team.

And that’s exactly what we are going to cover in this article. By the time you’re done reading, you will know exactly what a Center does on the court and what skill set this position requires to be successful.

The Center Position

The Center position is usually played by the tallest and strongest player on the team. They physically dominate part of the basketball game. Not every single Center is going to fall into both of these categories but generally they will fall into one.

Your team has a definite advantage if you have a dominant post player. Everything they bring to the table on both ends of the court can be the thing that helps you win basketball games.

Not only do they impact the game for themselves, but they do so much for the team as a whole. They can score easy points and get rebounds for second chance points on offense as well as block shots, get rebounds, and help teammates who get beat on defense.

What is the job of the Center in Basketball?

On defense, their job is to protect the paint. Their height plays a big role in the defense because it helps them contest and blocks shots as well as get defensive rebounds.

The Center is the last line of defense, which means they’re able to read the defense to know when to help off their player to stop the basketball.

On offense, their job is to score easy points and help teammates get open. The Center has to be comfortable with playing their back to the basket. They know how to post up and get open followed by making a move against the defense for a score.

Their mostly going to be in the paint, but they may step out on the perimeter to help move the basketball or set a screen for a teammate. After every shot, the Center is fighting for offensive rebounds that may lead to a new scoring opportunity.

The Skill Set of a Center

      • Offensive and Defensive Rebounding. A simple rebound can be the difference between a big win and a heartbreaking loss. Some of the best rebounders of all time were Centers. This position crashes the boards on both ends of the court. Securing rebounds on the defensive end to stop your opponent from scoring and grabbing a rebound on the offensive end to keep the possession alive for your team is one of the most important jobs of this position. If you want to be a good Power Forward, you should build up your strength and work on boxing out and rebounding.
      • Lock Down Defense and Shot Blocking. As a post player, the Center is asked to make life tough for not only the player they’re guarding but for every offensive player who comes near the rim. The Center is the most important defender on the floor because you stand between an opponent and two points. The Center is generally the team's best shot blocker. Strong shot blocking, even just shot contesting, from the Center is important because it can give smaller players a reason to not come into the lane to take easy shots. If the Center keeps blocking their shot, they will stay away out of the paint and try to make difficult shots from the perimeter.
      • Scoring Off a Post Up. This position plays with their back to the basket which means Centers need to be able to post up their defender. They have to be able to muscle their way for position, receive the entry pass, and then make a post move. Ideally, the Center can make a post move with their back to the basket but they also have the skill set to catch the pass then turn and face up to attack the rim. As a Center, you want to have many different ways to score: hook shot, up-and-under, drop step, off the glass.
      • Passing to an Open Teammate. The Center may be called upon to step outside the three-point line to catch a pass and reverse the ball. When this happens, they have time to read the defense and make the right pass to a teammate that can set up a scoring opportunity. Or the Center may be so dominant your opponent wants to double team on defense. If the Center is a passer then they’ll be able to pass the ball out of the trap to an open teammate.
      • Screening to Get a Teammate Open. Another way to make a difference on the offensive end is setting strong screens to get a teammate open. Ball screens, down screens, back screens - it doesn’t matter what type of screen. A Center can get someone open with their screening game which can open up the floor and lead to scoring opportunities for their team.


      • Hitting Open Jump Shots. A Center that can knock down shots is a huge asset to any winning basketball team. If a Center can step out and score a short jump shot then it helps keep the defense honest and takes pressure off other scorers because there’s another scoring threat on the court.

Top 5 Centers in Basketball

DeMarcus Cousins

Best Center in the NBA

Joel Embiid

Nikola Jokic

Starting Center for Basketball

Karl Anthony-Towns

Center Playing Basketball

Al Horford

Center Position in Basketball

Basketball Drills for Centers

Recommended Training Videos for Centers

Skill Development Workout: Centers

Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall gives you the tools needed to develop a quality center in this video. The one-hour workout consists of a number of game-like drills that will improve the play of your post players.

Recommended Training Equipment for Centers

Grab and Control Rebounding System

Basketball players jump, grab the ball and pull it in while opponents attempt to to steal it away. This basketball training equipment teaches you to firmly grab the ball, improving ball handling skills during competition

MVP Vertical Jump Pro System

Build explosiveness in your lower and upper body for your optimal M.V.P. Alan has selected exercises that will make you as explosive as possible on the court. Most athletes using this basketball training equipment will start to see small results beginning around weeks 3-4 and the most results in weeks 9-12.

Learn More

This Complete Guide to Playing Center should cover everything you need to know about this position, but there's always room to grow. To learn more start browsing through our vast selection of DVDs right now.

Our basketball training videos feature the best of the best. From the top coaches in high school, college, & the Pros to the best basketball trainers who teach Pro players we have them all. We have DVDs for rent by mail, downloads available for purchase, and 48 hour rental.

You can watch them over and over, take notes, and then rent another DVD over the same topic and very quickly your knowledge of a specific topic will reach mastery level. Using basketball training videos as a coach can change your entire coaching style.

Jun 14, 2019 Coach Chris

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