When your child starts to show an interest in playing a sport like basketball, your search for a great basketball program will begin. Although their school may offer some exposure in gym class or with an after-school league, your child may benefit more from joining an organized group outside of the school setting. If you find yourself searching for a great house league basketball program, there are a few things to look for that will help indicate whether you’ve found a great one.

Top features to look for in a house league basketball program

Although you may be tempted to judge the quality of a basketball program by checking out their playing stats, there are a few key features that will actually give you a better indication of the quality of the program. Taking in a game or a practice before committing is a great way to get a feel for how the coach runs the show, and whether your child will thrive in the environment.

At Burlington Basketball, our house league basketball programming checks all the boxes. Since 1973, our non-profit club has seen thousands of kids gain the love of basketball. Volunteer led and focused on fun AND development, it’s clear why we’re Burlington, Oakville and Halton’s largest youth basketball organization!

Not-for profit organization

Yes, whether an organization is for-profit or not-for-profit is about youth basketball – and youth sports in general. Although professional sports leagues like the NHL and NBA are clearly run as for-profit businesses, the same should not be true with youth sports. Any group that offers youth basketball leagues and is run as a not-for-profit organization helps validate that the focus will be on providing kids in the community a great sports-focused experience. Further, a board of directors is typically in place as a system of balance and checks that ensures policies and accountability is in place. When an issue arises, you don’t want to be dealing with an organization centred on profits and the discretion of private ownership.

Led by volunteers

Volunteers give their time “for the love of the game” and kids – not to earn income. When a coaching team is helmed by people getting paid to be there, the experience is sure to be much different for everyone. Coaches who are paid to fill the role are likely to have a different kind of motivation than those who are there because they love seeing their children thrive athletically. When remuneration is involved there is suddenly an expectation to maintain an agenda, whether it’s their own or someone else’s, rather than just being able to focus on the good of the players and the team.

It’s locally based

While playing on the #1 rated team might be a goal for you as a parent there is something to be said for joining the local team, regardless of their status. Having a gym nearby will not only cut down on the travel time required, it’ll help your child get to know some local kids as well. Since the first goal of any sport is to have fun and make friends, having a group of friends right in your neighbourhood is sure to have your child eager to show up to practice.

They focus on teaching

One of the most obvious things that signifies a great basketball program is the importance they place on skill development and learning. Although you do want your child to enjoy the time they spend playing ball, you also want them to experience some skill development. A good house league program will teach players both fundamental basketball skills and important life skills like teamwork, good sportsmanship, respect, responsibility and accountability.

AND they focus on fun

While skill development and playing a good game is important for young players, the true magic of the sport comes when kids have fun and enjoy their experience. Any sport or extra curricular activity should be something that a child truly has fun doing, so this should be a significant focus of a great house league program.

There’s an emphasis on progressive skill development

Basketball skills should be taught in a progressive fashion and a good house league program will lean into this. Regardless of what age a player is when they begin playing basketball, there is a natural progression to the skills that players will need to know, and a coaching team that takes the time to really teach these skills will be a great support to your young player.

The team has a good balance of practices and games

Although playing a game is the ultimate goal of any player, the program should have a good mix of both practice slots and game times. Games are definitely beneficial to the team as it gives everyone the opportunity to see how their skills are translating into real-life experiences, but practice time is where the real learning happens. A great house league program will offer a good balance of practices and games in order to fully develop each players skills and help the kids learn how to play as a team.

House leagues or rep leagues?

Throughout the course of a basketball players’ career, they will often be faced with the question of whether to move from a house league team to a rep league team. Although there are many benefits to joining a rep league, the truth is that many players just aren’t suited for the hard work and strenuous schedule that often comes with it. When a player has found a great house league program that focuses on skill development and personal responsibility, they’ll know exactly where they belong.