Now that I have a blog, I am sure I will be writing a lot in the near future about becoming a good shooter with my philosophies. With that said, I think it is perfect to start with an area of development that very little people address – How the size of the basketball and height of rim and how it affects the development of becoming a good shooter.
Before I started working with my own children, I would have never thought the size of a ball and height of the rim would affect if someone can become a shooter or not. I always trained high school or college/pro players, who were naturally strong enough and had decent form. However, there is no doubt it is the most important first parts for youths in becoming a consistent shooter.
Most people force their children to grow up too early. We want them to mimic adult basketball players, act like them, play like them, dress like them, and use the same equipment. However, forcing them this way would be eliminating the important aspect of youth development – PROGRESSION PRINCIPLE. The Principle of Progression implies that there is an optimal level of overload that should be achieved, and an optimal time frame for this overload to occur. Overload should not be increased too slowly or improvement is unlikely. Overload that is increased too rapidly will result in injury or reduced outcomes.
If you go to any Youth CYO or even AAU league, you notice that by 5th grade (sometimes earlier) they have the boy’s teams using a regular 29.5″ basketball and playing on 10-foot rims. In 3rd-4th grade, they have them using a 28.5″ (woman’s ball). I recommend a player use a 27.5″ basketball regardless of age until they have built a proper shooting base (tempo and form) that will allow them to progress to a 10-foot rim. When my son was in 1st grade and until present 3rd grade, I forced him to play and shoot ONLY on a 9-foot rim (sometimes less) and with a 27.5″ basketball. I wanted him to learn proper technique, eliminating the bad habits that come with using a larger ball and higher rim. When he would go to his CYO team, or Boys and Girls club team, they would use a larger ball. Every kid (including my son) would be shooting with a two-handed push shop, usually from the side of their hip. Their body would completely turn, as if they were trying to throw a pumpkin through the basket. This goes against anything any of us learned about child development in relation to basketball shooting. This would be like trying to teach a young person algebra before teaching them addition and subtraction. Or having a young person learn how to play golf with adult size golf clubs. It just doesn’t make any sense.
This same concept applies to ball-handling. Very recently I put a video up of my son Jayden performing a simple ball-handling drill (4-3-2-1-0 Drill). That is a 27.5″ ball in the video. If I were to have him use a 28.5″ ball, he wouldn’t be able to do that drill. Why? His hand size isn’t large enough to control and dribble the larger ball with fluidity. Can he still do it? Yeah, but he cannot control the ball with because of the maturity.
I want players to have success when they are skill training. If kids have success, they will continually want to get in the gym and train (Intrinsic Motivation). If we (Coaches/parents) continually allow these leagues and coaches use improper equipment, we will have a negative counterproductive effect on these players. Shooting a basketball is an art form and there are very few players that can really shoot as you move up the ranks. Would this number be increased if proper child development were implemented in these leagues or by parents/coaches? ABSOLUTELY!
Lets quit worrying about how many wins and losses our 6-13 years olds are having in these leagues, and really give the proper resources to make them better players that will continue into high school and hopefully college.
Below are training videos for Jayden when he was 4-5 years of age, and another when he was 6-7 years of age. Both videos he is using a 27.5″ ball. Going back, I probably should have had Jayden using a 26.5″ basketball when he was 4 years of age. Hopefully these videos will be used as motivation for your young players.