What Is Toughness on the Basketball Court?

Chase RuttigCorrespondent IFebruary 3, 2009

Toughness is a trait in an athlete that is often misused especially in basketball. Most sportswriters and analysts equate toughness as being fired up and visibly intense examples often given are KG, Allen Iverson, and Rasheed Wallace.

While these players may be great, I am saddened when I see them among the leaders in technicals every year, costing your team two foul shots and posession of the ball is not playing for the team and it is not being mentally tough.

So to sort the mess that is the definition of toughness I have compiled a list of things that make a basketball player tough, both mentally and physically.

Toughness is giving more on your end of the floor than on offense. Any superstar, or any basketball player for that matter, can score, but it is the great players that prevent their opponents from scoring.

Toughness is not saving your energy for the next quarter or next game. Treat every minute you play basketball as it is the most important game or most important practice of your life. Leave it all on the court and you will be amazed at the results.

Toughness is not whining about fouls or dirty play. Many people give examples of tough players and many of the medias go-to tough guys are on the lead for technical fouls for their team or in their respective league. A tough player knows not to cost his team points by arguing with the officials.

Toughness is taking good, clean charges. Don't very this from the idea of flopping, what I mean here is stepping in front of your man and establishing your position to alter his shot, or better yet draw a foul. Vlade Divac and Manu Ginobili are not tough, but the players who lay their body on the line to take good hard charges are among the toughest players in sports.

Toughness is putting the team first. Every player can make themselves look good on any given night, but the tough players put the team ahead of their own personal stats and achievements. The most important stat in sports is the numbers on the scoreboard when the clock hits zero.

Toughness is playing through the foul. Good players draw fouls, great tough players draw the foul and score. Which leads me to...

Toughness is making your free throws. The best sign of a tough, disciplined player is his free-throw percentage.  Did he put in the work to do his best?

Toughness is being there first. First to practice, first to games, first on the bus, first to high-five his teammates, first to pick up his teammate after a charge or foul—the team players are always there first.

Toughness is working hard to get open. It is easy to get your touches when your defender makes a mistake, but it is tough to make the effort to get the ball with a defender in your shorts.

Toughness is wanting and making the shot when it counts. Tough players get their team wins when the pressure is on.

Toughness is discipline. How about that? Can we finally get rid of the word toughness from our sports vocabulary? It is now called being a disciplined player, not a a tough player.

All-Tough Team

Center - Marcus Camby

Brings his best every night on a horrible Clippers squad.


Power Forward- Kevin Garnett

You see it in his eyes and in the way he acts every game.  He wants every time he steps on that court.


Small Forward - Ron Artest

Got to give it up to the man that made his name in the league as being the toughest player to play against.


Shooting Guard - Bruce Bowen

The NBA's best defender, without a doubt. He brings more to his team's half of the court—the definition of toughness.


Point Guard - Steve Nash

He  may not fit the definition of defense, but he has fought through all the odds throughout his career. A perfect example would be playing through that broken nose.


Toughest of All Time - Reggie Miller

Clutch player, got open whenever he wanted the ball—and most importantly, made his free throws.