Basketball player development takes place when players are both applying skills and decision making. It’s essential for players to be touching the ball and making immediate on ball basketball decisions. This best takes place in 1 on 1 and small-sided games at an accelerated pace. Kindergarten through 4th Grade would be best served to avoid playing 5 On 5 full court basketball. Learning to play is essential before teaching plays. Playing is applying skills at an unconscious competence and using fundamental instincts in small sided games while making decisions like spacing and timing, patience, sharing the ball, shot selection, driving to score or draw defenders, cutting and partner actions.

4 Stages of Player Development:

  1. Introduction, Unconscious Incompetence

  2. Learner, Conscious Incompetence

  3. Advanced, Conscious Competence

  4. Mastery Expert, Unconscious Competence

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

Learner, 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. Skill development is boring.

  • What are all these words? New language. What’s a pivot?

  • I need to practice a lot if I’m going to get better.

  • Fundamental basketball? hat are you talking about coach.

  • Skill Building Grind. Repetition, repetition, repetition..

  • Confidence is weak. Players often want to quit.

Advanced, Level 3: Conscious Competence - Skill Application

  • I’m starting to get good.

  • I’m making shots. Shooting mechanics are getting consistent

  • Driving to the basket and making layups is easier. Playing confident under pressure and contact

  • 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

  • Mastered fundamentals

  • 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.  

League and Competition Recommendations:

  • Kinder - 1st Grade: 2 On 2 Half Court

  • 2nd Grade: 3 On 3 Full Court

  • 3rd Grade: 3 On 3 Full Court

  • 4th - 5th Graders: 4 On 4 Full Court

  • 5th Grade & Up : 5 On 5 Full Court

Practice Time:

  • Kinder - 1st Grade: 40-50 minutes

  • 2nd - 3rd Grade: 1:15 Hour

  • 4th - 5th Graders: 1:30 Hour

  • 6th - 8th Grader : 1:45 Minutes

  • 9th Graders & Up: 2 Hours