Play 3-On-3 Rather Than Full-Court

When players are young, focus most of your drills and scrimmages on half-court skills by playing half-court 3-on-3 rather than 5-on-5 in the full-court setting

Playing 3-on-3 allows players more opportunities to pass, dribble, shoot and move around the court. There is more space in the half-court area when just six players occupy it. This keeps one player from “hiding” and staying away from the action. In 3-on-3, everyone must participate. And, in youth basketball, one above-average dribbler easily dominates a full-court, 5-on-5 game, which doesn’t do any good for the rest of the players. When one player can go coast to coast at will, no one else runs to open spots, sets picks or moves without the ball. In the half-court, players are more apt to utilize these skills.

Also, full-court basketball lends itself to full-court pressure on young ball handlers. Just because you can force a 10-year-old into constantly passing the ball to the other team, doesn’t mean it’s a skill that translates when players get older. At this level, you want players working on fundamental defense and understanding how to guard. If they get too used to simply running at a ball handler to force a turnover in the full-court, then they never develop the proper habits to defender in the half-court, which is critical for when they are older.

3-on-3 is basketball learning at its best. It is fun, creates game situations and promotes an extremely effective learning environment – most young players don’t have the ability to run 94 feet while executing basic basketball movements. Keep them confined to the half-court to develop basics.

“The more your players have to think on the basketball court, the slower their feet get.” Jerry Tarkanian, 729 career victories, 1990 national championship