Why would we teach and train youth basketball players a certain position and certain way based on their 4, 5, 6…10+ year old physical attributes? Aren’t great drills and skills the best way to teach them ALL? Yes it is!
Over the last several years the game of basketball has gone through a pretty significant shift, one that will change the way we teach and play the game. The days of assigning players to positions- often based on their size are gone – or they should be. We are seeing a big move towards creating well-rounded and multi-positional players. This practice is known as “positionless basketball”. This style of game shifts the focus from teaching players to excel in only one position, to coaching them on all skills & positions of the game. There are many reasons for this, and very many benefits to our young athletes.
Benefits of teaching kids positionless basketball
Players get more game time
When players can perform in any position, they are more likely to get more time on the court. Using each players strengths to craft plays can result in an endless array of lineups, allowing for players to be switched out regularly and spend more time on the court.
You create more well-rounded players
Teaching players the skills needed to fill a variety of roles is going to help them step into multiple positions on the court. In basketball today, all players need to be able to shoot, dribble, pass and guard. Gone are the days of position-specific training. Having an understanding of each position creates a more dynamic player who has a complete understanding of how to effectively move on the court and play the game. It’s about teaching kids “how to play” rather to assign them a defined “role” in plays.
All players learn to play a great defensive game
When players are given the opportunity to learn and implement offensive plays, it becomes easier for them to understand how to respond to those plays from a defensive standpoint.
Positionless basketball also helps players to grow thanks to who they guard. Rather than a defensive player only guarding a specific player, they are forced to rotate their position meaning they might guard multiple different players during the same game- each one building a different set of defensive instincts. This helps their skills and game to become more well rounded, which results in an overall stronger defensive game.
Going through puberty doesn’t hurt their game
A short player might get pigeon-holed into the position of ‘guard’, but a few years later- after having gone through puberty- might be one of the taller kids on the team. Having only played one position until this point might mean that he now doesn’t know how to excel on the court in a different position.
Ignoring the cues that might send a young athlete of a certain build into a specific position helps coaches to focus on training young athletes in all areas of the game so that as they move into high school they are more than capable of playing a great game, regardless of what position they are put into.
Builds a stronger team
A team full of positionless players becomes a stronger team all around, and is harder for opposing teams to match with. When all players can play all positions the opposing team never knows what it’s going to get from your team. Young athletes become more able to work together and support each other when every team member understands the other positions on the court.
Positionless basketball is THE way to develop the next generation of stars!
In the past it was common practice to assign each player a position and help them master that role. But in the last decade the game has shifted to favour players who can play a variety of positions, and who aren’t stuffed into a position strictly thanks to the size or stature.
Regardless of the build or initial skill set of the player, all team members should have the opportunity to play and learn every position. Not only does each player benefit from the skills learned from this method, but so do all members of the team.
This recent shift in how we coach the game is making way for players to really excel both on and off the court, and for coaches to craft truly competitive teams! Skill development, basketball IQ and sheer love of the game have taken over as the most important parts of game development, and our kids are learning a better game because of it.