1. PLAY MORE GAMES
I’m talking about practice. It should look more like play. The majority of youth practice should be games. They need context for skills. They need to have fun. They need to touch the ball and build up experience points.
These three keys will improve the games you choose to play.
i) Keep them short.
ii) Don’t teach until after.
iii) Use constraints to direct desired outcomes.
It is not the job of the gardener to force growth, but rather to create the ideal conditions for growth.
2. PLAY THE RIGHT GAMES
Youth basketball should prioritize movement, ball touches, scoring, learning & FUN! The right games are 3v3 FIBA style games to the exclusion of 5 on 5.
Fast transitions and less players on a team lead to more touches.
More space and less defenders allow for more success and scoring. SCORING = FUN.
Two games of 6 allow for 12 to play on a full court instead of 10. It’s just numbers. Numbers don’t lie.
3. EXPLORE THE EDGES OF THE SANDBOX
Encourage the crazy! The game always changes, but most change starts at the pro-level. Sadly, we find youth basketball being 20+ years behind.
Instead, we should encourage youth basketball to be at the forefront of the movement. There is no place better suited to experiment with a style of play or new skills than youth basketball.
Exploration is fun, the sandbox should be big and mistakes encouraged. This can maximize growth and minimize adults taking the game too seriously.
Throw up some half court shots and laugh a little.
4. ALLOW FOR INTRINSIC MOTIVATION
Most youth practices I’ve seen have a coach constantly yelling & telling players to move faster, care more, or do some outdated thing.
Coach motivation is a hell of a drug….creating addicts for life. We don’t want athletes addicted to a yelling coach. We want self motivated ones.
Sadly, I work with many athletes who wait for me to motivate them in order for them to move fast and play hard.
Coaches and parents have ruined them by over motivating, talking too much and demanding the effort out of their child. This is failing to teach them to start their own engine.
5. PRACTICE AUTONOMY
Players will care more about what they choose to own. In any given practice, game or training, let them choose their position. Let them choose the game, the score, or color of their jersey. The more ownership you give them, the more invested they will be.
Practice autonomy in youth basketball and they will build habits of ownership.
That was a lot. There’s definitely more. What would you add?
I’m Tyler and I’m here to help revolutionize the way the game is taught and played.
I’d love to help you or your program.
Check out the 10 Offensive Principles I’ve developed to help coaches and teams at all levels implement some of the ideas above.