In our video conference the other night w/ Coach Randy Brown, the emphasis and importance of playing 3 on 3 during practices was discussed. Before players and coaches play 5 on 5 or even 4 on 4, they should learn how to play 3 on 3. As Randy pointed out, “So much of the game comes down to 3 on 3.” He mentioned the Triangle Offense as a great example of the natural progression that playing 3 on 3 has to a full court game. According to Randy, there is “no hiding” in 3 on 3 and playing it will expose your weaknesses. Players will get more touches and opportunities with the ball and defensively the three main positions of “ball”, “off-ball” and “help” get reinforced. As a coach, it is much easier to focus on the 6 players rather than trying to watch 10.
Coach Brown also shared a document where after just three passes in a 3 on 3 game, there are over 36 different skills that need to be taught. Skills such as passing, catching, getting open, the Triple Threat position all get broken down.
So what does this mean to youth basketball and even HS basketball. For HS basketball it means that a lot more practice time needs to have 3 on 3 incorporated as a teaching tool. It brings that level of competition that practices need as well as taking the skills and fundamentals into a game-like situation.
For the youth several thoughts come to mind especially for the U-12 age groups. Do we really need to have them playing 5 on 5 full court and have games end up 8-6? Are they really developing their skills? Or is it for the parents’ benefit, that their child is playing “real” basketball. Would the players’ skill levels be better served in a 3 on 3 setting? What are the chances of 3 on 3 leagues being formed instead of traditional leagues?