What Is Basketball IQ?

What Is Basketball IQ?

Key Takeaway: Basketball IQ is crucial for players to instinctively read the game, adapt to various situations, make smart plays, and understand their coach's instructions. Developing a high basketball IQ involves playing calmly, knowing when to pass or shoot, and continuously learning and improving through watching games and engaging with online coaching resources.

We all know that basketball is a physical game and basketball players need to have a strong physical body to be a good player, but one aspect of being a good player is being left out. Basketball IQ is one aspect we tried to eliminate when we talk about being a good basketball player, having a good basketball IQ is important especially in tight games.  

But what is a basketball IQ? Why do you need it? In this article, we are going to help you to have a deeper understanding of basketball IQ, and how you can develop it. Let’s go! 

Quick Answer

Basketball IQ is the ability to instinctively play the game and can easily adapt to any situation that comes up. Players with high basketball IQ can read the opponent’s plays, can execute different plays, and can read the game. Players with high basketball IQ can put the right play into motion at the right time, and this is a skill that only a few players have.  

Many basketball players have a great basketball IQ that allows them to perform better on the court. Most players with high basketball IQ are the stars of their teams, and they are usually the alpha males on their team. 

Characteristics Of Players With High Basketball IQ 

There are different characteristics that a player can show how high their basketball IQ is. These are the different characteristics of players with high basketball IQ. 

Playing Calm Inside The Court And Doesn’t Rush Things

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, basketball players with low IQ lose their focus when some things go wrong. When the opponent score is countless, most basketball players rush things to score and chase the opponent’s score.

But for basketball players that have high basketball IQ, rushing is not their method to beat their opponent. They simply focus on the game to execute different plays well, listen to their coaches, and think that everything would be fine even when they lose. 

Instinctively Know What Type Of Plays Should Be Executed 

There are tons of plays that a basketball player can execute inside the court, and this might cause confusion. Basketball players that have an excessive basketball IQ knows what type of plays should be executed in different situations. 

Can Easily Adapt To Changes

In basketball, many changes could happen, especially when things are going wrong. Basketball players with high basketball IQ can easily adapt to changes, they just don’t adapt to changes but they also accept changes. Basketball players with high basketball IQ will do everything for their team to win the ball game.

They Know When To Pass The Ball And To Whom They Should Pass The Ball

A wrong choice of the pass is one key to cause a turnover, and turnovers can affect the momentum of the team. High basketball IQ players prevent turnovers as they know when they should pass the ball, and to whom they should pass the ball 

Knows What To Do When They Have And Don’t Have The Ball

Only one player can hold the ball at an instance, and the remaining players are required to cut, execute screens, etc. You often see basketball players that aren’t holding the ball are just standing and waiting for the ball to touch their palms. Players with high basketball IQ know what to do when they don’t have the ball, they just don’t stand in the corner and hope for the ball to touch their palms. 

Basketball players with high basketball IQ also know what to do if they hold the ball, they just don’t dribble the ball until the shot clock expires. They put every effort into their team to score and to execute plays properly. 

Can Understand What The Coach Wanted To Say In One Glimpse

Sometimes coaches say things that any player on the bench doesn’t understand, but for players with high basketball IQ, this isn’t an issue. Players with high basketball IQ knows what their coaches wanted, they also know if their coach is angry and not satisfied with the plays they made. High basketball IQ players know how to listen well, they love listening more than talking.  

Gets Creative With Plays, Passing, And Ball Handling 

High basketball IQ ballers play to their full potential, they think outside the box and they get out of their comfort zone. They make different plays that are new to people, they make different types of plays that fans will find amazing. High IQ ballers are so creative with plays, and every fan including me loves to see that creativity. 

Knows When To Shoot The Ball

High IQ basketball players know when to shoot the ball. They know if they are heavily guarded or not. They also know their full potential, if they know they are not good at shooting threes, they won’t take the shot even if they are free in the three-point line. 

Watch these high IQ plays from NBA players:

How To Improve Basketball IQ

There are three easy ways to improve your basketball IQ. Remember, these ways require consistency and perseverance for you to see some improvements. 

Watch Basketball Games

Watching more basketball games indeed helps you to learn to execute different basketball plays well, it will also help you to learn different skills. Some coaches used to pull some specific clips from games to show the team what they are doing correctly and what they need to improve, they call this method “film study”.  

Remember, before you watch a basketball game you should know what are your purposes for watching those games. It’s either you watch for pleasure or you watch for learning, these two are very different and you must know that. 

If you are going to watch for pleasure, then grab a popcorn and a soda and watch on your soft sofa. But if you are going to watch, to learn, then grab a paper and a pen and list everything you learned.  

Play More

If you are very obsessed with playing basketball, then it is a good thing. Playing more can help you to understand each play, it will also improve the skills you need in different aspects of the game. There is a different type of basketball games that will help you to improve more, such as:

  • Playing random pick-up games with friends at school
  • 3-on-3 during team practices
  • 1-on-1 games against your best friend

I suggest you play basketball more so that you can improve your basketball IQ. It will surely help you in the long run.

Watch Basketball Coaches On Youtube 

Many online basketball coaches could help you to improve, they make certain videos to help every basketball player to improve. Coaches on YouTube can give you unique tips that no one ever heard about before.

I suggest these three basketball channels on youtube that is worth watching for:

If you are serious about improving your basketball IQ just check out our article here


Developing your basketball IQ is not an easy process, it requires perseverance and consistency. Practice more and listen to those players who have more experience playing than you, and do not forget to do your research as well. 

Having a high basketball IQ is one of the most important, yet most ignored aspects of basketball. So start improving your basketball IQ, and prove yourself to others. Good luck! 

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