“Here if you need me”
I played a lot of youth basketball at Media Hoops. Those memories blur, but an indelible one stands out of Mr. Derrick saying that line above. Over and over again.
He understood the need for a little assistance for the younger players. He was often on the court with us reffing and coaching at the same time. If you couldn’t find a teammate, you would hear, “Here if you need me.”
The ability to scale the game appropriately often determines how much a child will enjoy that activity.
One of the 5 elements of designing a video game is Balancing the Challenge. Too easy and it's not fun; too hard and they quit. A good level should take several attempts, but not too many.
It’s why we use smaller sized-balls and lower the hoops in our league. It’s why we start with 3v3 in Grades 1 and 2. It’s why we have a free-zone in all of our games.
Why would a 2nd-grade-beginner play in the exact same environment, with the same sized ball and hoop, as Joel Embiid? Surely there should be levels to this, right?
Our refs help both teams set up during BOB plays. It’s funny to see a team call stack and all 4 players are lined up on the passer's lap 🙂
“No, no, boys, during stack the 1st person starts at the block.”
When you think about scaling the game at practice, consider creating an advantage for the offense. 4 v 1 might remove the pressure of having a player in your face, but still asks them to complete a pass with a defender lurking nearby.
When you take away the on-ball defender it allows the passer to work on surveying the court and process one moving part.
When you take away the off-ball defenders, but put someone on the ball, it allows the passer to practice making a decision with a hand in their face; to find a way to be longer.
You could be a steady QB like Mr. Derrick. You could let a player be the steady QB instead of sitting on the sidelines.
Once the challenge is reached, move the goalposts so to speak. Nobody puts the training wheels back on the bike after the child gains the confidence. But, in the beginning, it’s nice that they are there.
If you have any questions about scaling the advantages at practice, "I'm here if you need me!: