Lesson 2:
Teaching Basketball Through Small-Sided Games

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It would seem to make sense to introduce a sport by first teaching the basic skills of the sport and then the tactics of the game, but we’ve discovered that this approach has disadvantages.

A traditional approach teaches the skills of the sport out of the context of the game. Players may learn to pass, dribble, and shoot the ball, but they find it difficult to use these skills in the real game because they do not yet understand the fundamental tactics of the sport and do not appreciate how best to use their newfound technical skills.

In its basic form a small-sided game is exactly what it sounds like, a game between two teams of fewer than normal players.
Studies show that young athletes derive increased enjoyment from playing sports in smaller teams and with adapted rules. Players get involved in the action more often, learn more quickly and make more decisions during the course of a small-sided game. 

The goal is to help players gain a better understanding of the game. Tactically players get to learn tactics with less distracting information and fewer visual stimuli. This can enhance players’ vision of the game and their understanding of defensive and offensive tactics.
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The art and science of coaching is to determine if what you are spending time developing in practice is translating into game success. If the 3-on-3 teaching does not transfer to 5-on-5 in practice and games then it is just a random drill. Choose 3-on-3 sequences that come directly from what you do on offense or what you need to defend on defense.

3-on-3 teaching not only increases the decision-making and skill application opportunities for your players, but also the number of teaching situations for you as a coach. Use your coaching interventions to teach within the game sequences.

As a coach you can set the initial offensive sequence to develop your offense or to work on a specific defensive situation. As your team progresses in their learning, you should provide them with multiple options to run on offense. This makes your 3-on-3 game more random and variable. If you practice the same sequence over and over again your team will know what is coming. Instead, we want to stimulate thinking on every possession to simulate the randomness and unpredictability of games.

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