With the NBA playoffs underway and summer steadily approaching, it’s an exciting time for youth basketball players to get outside and once again enjoy playing pickup basketball. If you’re not familiar with pickup basketball, it’s most simply defined as a less structured version of the game. With no referees and a make your own rules mentality it often becomes a very physical game. The lack of organization can cause some parents to become concerned that this style of play will lead to bad habits in young basketball players. With basketball season and tournaments lasting the better part of the year, we feel it’s important to let kids enjoy the less structured fun of pickup basketball with friends while encouraging them to follow some simple guidelines.
These days, it’s common for residential basketball hoops to come equipped with cranks for adjusting the height of the system. Unfortunately, this is often a feature that is abused by those, like myself, who don’t have the ability to dunk on a 10’ rim. While it’s fun to feel what it’s like for NBA players not named Steve Nash, kids can develop bad habits playing on a low rim. We encourage youth basketball players to ALWAYS play on a 10’ rim. If, as a parent, this advice has little effect on your son or daughters desire to dunk on their friends, there is always the tough love alternative:
Rules like “no blood, no foul” are also common in pickup basketball. While this sounds fun, I guess, we encourage setting some boundaries before the game. In our experience, call your own foul is the best way to regulate pickup basketball. With respect and reputations on the line, only the most egregious of fouls will likely be called. Hopefully, without the blood. Nobody likes the guy who is always fouling anyway. This way, players will develop strength on offense while at the same time, not being rewarded for lazy defense on the other end.
Also, nothing builds a competitive spirit like being kicked off the court after a loss and having to wait your turn for revenge. Pickup basketball can be one of the best ways for kids to learn and enjoy the game.
Following some simple suggestions for pickup basketball can help build skills while allowing you to create a unique experience on your court or local playground.