Youth basketball has a problem. Kids seeking a fun outlet for team play are often disappointed by recreational and club programs that focus on individual development at the expense of team play. This lowers a team's potential for future success and diminishes the joy each kid takes out of playing the game.
Growing up in the States this was often a problem I encountered during the summer camp season. Players from around my home state would come together at a big name University for a week of skills training and game play with some of the best competition in the state.
Excited by the opportunity to test myself against my peers I would anxiously look forward to these camps. Yet every summer I'd come away disappointed by the experience as the camp would invariably fall into the same familiar pattern.
- A few kids, handpicked by the coaching staff at the College or University to attend the camp, would be dispersed across different teams, would dominate the basketball throughout 5 on 5 play and garner all accolades across individual skills competitions.
- Kids who did not play selfishly were often ignored by coaches motivated to improve their teams' winning percentages more than developing each kid's talents through encouraging team play.
- I would leave camp frustrated with little guidance on how to improve and no experience testing myself against the stronger players in these 5 on 5 games.
The elements of the same problem are also present in the youth basketball culture of Singapore. Clubs and schools seem to prioritize winning over player development as the most talented one or two players on a team will spend the majority of the game dribbling and shooting the basketball while recreational players do little more than decorate the court with their uniform colors.
At Fastbreak we recognize that not all players are ready to jump into 5 on 5 competition and offer developmental and recreational programs where kids can enjoy the game in a less intense environment. These programs foster team play where developing players can test out new skills and strategies taught by experienced coaches.
The recreational programs taking place this spring are our 3 on 3 leagues offered at UWC East on Saturday mornings. Traditionally this has been Fastbreak's most popular offering and I am beginning to see why that is the case as the benefits are showing up across all age groups.
Players who participate in three on three play develop their skills faster for three reasons:
1. 3 on 3 play increases the number of repetitions players receive during competition.
2. 3 on 3 play improves the quality of the play.
3. 3 on 3 play enhances the players' enjoyment of the game.
As Singapore's leader in quality basketball instruction the coaches of Fastbreak are constantly searching for ways to improve our craft to raise the level of play in Singapore. In the coming weeks I'll be using this space to explore more ideas like this.