I love the start of our 3-on-3 League in both the winter and the summer. More often than not, the kids have had either a long layoff from basketball or are just starting their basketball journey. With the various limitations of COVID, the enjoyment found in their play was even more palpable. I just love to see it!

As anyone in our leagues knows, the focus of these hourly times is entirely kid-centered and developmentally appropriate. This is sometimes a shock to the system for adults, but I have found that it is a healthy shock to the kids!

This is purposeful. I have often told people through the years that how we structure this ‘league’ has been determined by the feedback I receive from its participants. In short, I have listened to the kids. I believe this is an often neglected essential in your youth development models. Kids know what they want and are often on the right track as to what they really need! Too often our basketball adults have assumed they know what is best for the kids. And they have often been wrong. There is no use denying it.

Here’s one good example.

Traveling: What do you call or not call? Our answer naturally depends on the age of the kids and their familiarity with the rules. But how we actually call the rules has been dictated by player feedback.

Here’s the basic exchange with my kids and those they have played with over the years.

“Do you care if players travel?”

“No, not really.”

“What if they run with the ball and don’t dribble at all?”

“Well, yea, we don’t want that. They need to dribble sometimes at least.”

There you have it. The kids give us the principle that matters: call it sometimes, but not all the time. Naturally, the older they get the more that shifts, but you get the picture. The kids want the game to flow most of all. They want action. The details aren’t that important to them. And I think they are completely correct!

The same is true for free throws. They want you to shoot them once in a while, but in general, they don’t want to use precious clock time to stand around. This is also the case for fouls in general. Call some, but not all. It’s a tough balance, but they want to keep the game moving most of all. Time on the court and time with the ball….those the highest priorities. Just as they should be.

I certainly hope your kids enjoy the start and get the hang of it quickly. I am confident they will. And the beauty of it is…as they do so, they will improve in ways that surprise you! Even more, they will enjoy it. And there is nothing more important than that!

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