True basketball player development takes place when players are touching the ball and making immediate impactful basketball decisions. This takes place in 1 on 1 and small sided games. While coaching youth basketball I can attest that Kindergarten through 4th Grade should not be playing 5 On 5 full court basketball.
League and Competition Recommendations:
Kinder - 1st Grade: 2 On 2 Half Court League
2nd - 3rd Grade: 3 On 3 Half Court League
4th - 5th Graders: 4 On 4 Full Court
6th Grade & Up : 5 On 5 Full Court
Team Practice Time:
Kinder - 1st Grade: 50 minutes
2nd - 3rd Grade: 1:15 Hour
4th - 5th Graders: 1:30 Hour
6th - 8th Grader : 1:45 Minutes
9th Graders & Up: 2 Hours
4 Stages of Basketball Learning
While developing a players skill and basketball IQ we recognize each player develops differently. Our goal is foster the love of the game and a positive experience. Below is how we see players develop over time.
Introductory, Level 1: Unconscious Incompetence
Ignorant Bliss: I’m super motivated, I’m going to play in NBA
I love basketball. It’s fun to watch. My friends play. My sibling plays. My dad likes it.
This is cool. I can dribble. So much fun playing with friends.
I want to join a team.
Introduction to basketball. Love at first bounce.
Confidence is high
Intermediate / Novice, Level 2: Conscious Incompetence
This Is Hard. I miss most shots.
I’m not very good. My friends are better. Can I be that good?
These drills are hard. Lets just scrimmage.
What are all these words? New language. What’s a pivot?
I need to practice a lot if I’m going to get better
Skill Building Grind. Repetitions.
Confidence is weak
Advanced, Level 3: Conscious Competence - Skill Application
I’m starting to get good.
I’m making shots
Driving to the basket and making layups is easier
I want to play against other players
Practice is paying off. But its still a challenge.
Confidence is rising
Expert, Level 4: Unconscious Competence
Applying skills consistently
Playing under pressure
Following the rules of the game
Applying Basketball IQ in real time
Coaches commands are natural
Confidence is steady
Running Partner Actions, Hand-offs, Screens, Dribble Ats
The process of getting a 5 year old to the 15 year old varsity basketball player interested me endlessly. How is the best way to nurture a players love and ability to become an expert?
1 vs 0: A player mastering the ball in 1 vs 0. Using stagnate and dynamic drills
Maravich hand eye coordination
1 vs 1: The challenge of playing against pressure and scoring.
2 vs 1. Team play with pressure and decision making.
2 vs 2. Playing with a teammate. Learning to cut and move without the ball
3 vs 2. Team play with advantage and third option.
3 vs 3 Half-Court. Using space and timing. Becoming patient. Moving with out the ball as a third option. Understanding weak and ball side.
4 vs 4 Full Court: Running the court on transition. Playing against advantage and disadvantage situations. Playing Team Man to Man help defense.
5 vs 5 Full Court: Playing against a Zone, Man to Man, Full Court Press and Traps. Running Blobs, Slobs and ATOs.
Becoming an expert vs playing grade / age specific opponents and teammates
I believe playing with and against age specific players is the greatest deterrent in player development. As a 15 year you will be asked to play against 18 year olds. Why are we limiting and permitting over achievers to play against lesser? The same can be said for late bloomers. Having players play similar skilled competition in 1 On 2, 2 On 2 and 3 On 3 half court is the most efficient use of time.