Basketball IQ: What It Means And How To Improve It

We all know that having a strong body, practical skills, and practice are essential elements for a good basketball player. 

But there is another trait that turns a good player into a great one. It is the ability to pre-plan the game and possess tactical knowledge for counter-moves.

We are talking about basketball IQ. It is the secret to success for many of the world’s most renowned basketball players, including NBA stars. They are unique in that they have a high level of intelligence and a keen eye for detail.

Because of their foresight and commitment, they can do considerably better than their peers. Despite the fact that many players lack this talent, those that do are unstoppable.

Don't worry if you're unfamiliar with basketball IQ or if you have any doubts; we'll clarify everything for you. This article is aimed mainly at basketball aficionados who wish to enhance or expand their basketball IQ.

So, let's have a look at what basketball IQ is and how to improve it.

What Does Basketball IQ Mean?

Basketball is a game played spontaneously, with players making spontaneous moves based on the situation at hand.

To better deal with unanticipated circumstances, the players must have a quick response rate and muscle memory. It's a game that demands participants to be mindful of their next moves.

Skilled basketball players are always aware of their following actions as well as the opponent's counter-attacks.

If you've seen the Netflix series "The Queen's Gambit," you'll know what we’re talking about. First, the player examines the primary opponent's style of play and analyzes the game.

After that, he strategizes on how to begin the game, attack points, and endgame tactics.

Test Your Basketball IQ with this Video

So, basketball IQ enables the player to analyze the game and respond with the right moves according to the opponent’s game plan.

Thus, an intelligent basketball player is always a winner.

How To Distinguish Between Normal And High-IQ Players?

There are some ways to determine whether the top-scoring players on a team have a high basketball IQ or not, as they must possess the following qualities:


Smart basketball players always have a strategy in mind. Even if they are not handling the ball, they either put themselves on defense or in any other significant position that could benefit the team as a whole.

Then, they can observe and develop a strategy that leads their team to win the game.


Promotes Team-play

They are always at the right place at the right time. It is because they are focused on the ongoing events of the game.

They play to the strengths of their team players and add their own at the appropriate moments to improve the performance of the other players. In short, they think about the team and believe in team effort.

Attention To Detail

Basketball players with a high IQ have their eyes on every nook and corner of the court. They know which opponent is about to attack a player and which team member is on defense for whom.

This way, they can analyze the game from every end and position themselves where needed the most.

They also help their team members at the right time and save the team from losing the game.

Timely Decisions

Moreover, they can decide when to keep the ball and when to pass it.

This factor needs to be pre-judged because it gives them time and the opportunity to score. They know what move to make, which is why they are able to make decisions for the betterment of the team.

Conserve Their Energy

Smart players don’t waste their energy and time running all across the court to defend a single player.

Instead, they develop good team coordination and play to each other’s skills and strengths.

How To Improve Basketball IQ?

There are certain ways by which you can improve your basketball IQ.

But other than following these methods, you need to focus on playing as many tournaments as you can as they can enhance your intuitive actions and boost your confidence, which is as important as practice.

So, let’s discuss some of the ways to help you improve your basketball IQ.

Watch & Learn

If you want to improve your basketball IQ, make a habit of watching basketball games to learn. There’s a lot that you can learn by observing rather than by playing. Pick the best scoring player and start studying their way of playing.

If you find it hard the first time, replay the match and start observing again.

For example, follow the players in the game and watch where they are standing at the crucial and scoring points of the game, as well as their scoring contributions. Then, analyze how they respond in different situations.

Do Your Research

Simply watching games is not enough. Start researching your top-picked players and how they learned their skills. You can look up their skill-building techniques and follow the ones that suit you.

Moreover, you can improve your technical skills by seeking guidance from physical trainers and coaches about moves and skills. Ask them how you can adapt these skills and when to use them against your opponent.

Ask your mentors as many questions as possible and do extensive research if you want to see a difference in your basketball skills.

Be A Team Player

A great basketball player is always in action, no matter what. That means you have to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your team and play accordingly.

On the court, when you don’t have the ball, you must make sure to support the less experienced players. You can do so by studying the offense, defense, and attack mechanisms of your team.

So, learn about team effort and team play because basketball is not a solo game. You should spend enough time getting acquainted with other members of the team. It will ultimately have a positive impact on your game.

Stay Focused

While playing the game, don’t get too lost or carried away. The best way to stay focused is to keep your eyes busy.


The main factors to be considered are time, participants that can be fouled, scores, and timeouts.

This will teach you how to decide your priorities in the game with less time, score quickly, and save your team members from fouls.

Learn New Techniques

Another trait of high-IQ players is that they try to achieve perfection in every skill, including dribbling, shooting, defense, rebounding, passing, or even slam dunks.

You shouldn’t settle for your current skills and always be on the lookout for new techniques and tactics. Once you master the basics, nothing can stop you from becoming a great basketball player.

For this purpose, you can try different techniques to see which one is suitable for you. Ultimately, you will find your unique style of playing.

Get Creative

Now, this factor is something that can only be influenced by yourself. Most basketball players don’t play just to score but to lower the chances of their opposing team.

And they do it by using new, innovative, and creative dodging skills.

You can research and learn about various dodging tactics. However, there is always room for new ideas.

The better you are at dodging, the harder you make the game for your opponent. It will waste their time, and as you know, time is everything in basketball.

Understand Your Opponent

Basketball is as much of a psychological game as it is a physical one.

High-IQ players always think about their opponent’s next move while on the court. These are split-second decisions that can make or break a game.


Once the first move is made, start thinking about your opponent’s counterattack and rush in for your next move accordingly.

After considering at least the first three moves, you can either put yourself in the defense phase or go in for an attack.

So, your primary focus should be on your opponent because observing them and strategizing the game according to their techniques can help you win the game efficiently.

Conclusion: Improving Basketball IQ

Basketball is not just a game of muscles but a game of the mind, where every move has to be decided and made in a fraction of seconds.

Therefore, the only thing that can make you excel at this game is good homework and challenging practice.

You might have heard, “Practice makes a man perfect.” Well, it makes you perfect only if you put your efforts in the right direction.

In this game, you should practice your basketball IQ and analyzing skills, rather than just throwing the ball around mindlessly.

Therefore, include the above methods in your practice routine and strategize your game accordingly because, as you know, “Strategy is King.”

We hope this article helps you improve your planning and overall strategy for the game.

Joshua Bast

My name is Joshua Bast and I have been playing basketball ever since I was 7 years old. I love the game play, I love the feeling whenever I score a basket, but what made me fell in love was the camaraderie with my team mates. This blog is dedicated to help any up-and-coming basketball players maximize their potential.

Joshua Bast