How Middle School Basketball Players Develop

Developing Middle School Basketball Players

It’s the first day of spring, and middle school basketball players all over the country are in a hotel somewhere, waiting for their first of five or six AAU games over the weekend.

To so many parents, coaches, and middle school basketball players, this is a normal and commonly occurring weekend. Many middle school kids will play 6-8 months of tournaments.

How do they actually develop?

How do they develop their basketball skills, athletic skills, and tactical understanding skills when all they do is play?

What is the Best Model?

Let me first say I am a huge fan of competition- I love it when kids play basketball games.

What I consider good developmental play and what most think is quite different.

Aside from spending tons of money on AAU, traveling every weekend for months on end, and not always getting quality playing time due to an overly zealous coach who wants the WIN more than develop his players- what’s the point for a young middle schooler?

The Basketball Game Model is all about competition, playing, striving to improve every day, and finding ways to build a middle schoolers basketball IQ- plus making it as FUN as possible.

Plan for Developing Middle School Basketball:

  • Perform skill development 2-3 days per week- this can be 20-20 minutes per session. Just get better with the ball!

  • Become very athletic. Accomplish by spending two days per week sprinting, performing lateral speed, jumping, and strength training. Add some great footwork on the 7 Movement Patterns, and you’re in business.

  • Always find time to play 1-2 games of fast-paced 3-on-3 play. This teaches players how to take advantage of advantages to shoot or drive or pass when there is no advantage. Plus, 3-on-3 gives lots of space for players to operate.

  • Spend time every day practicing basketball on tactical understanding. Learn how to read the defense and make really quick decisions. This is when players start going to the next level.

  • Play lots of small-sided games. This could be part of tactical learning, part of the 3-on-3, or specific constraints that can be added to focus on offensive or defensive decision-making.

  • Get 5-on-5 “open” gym-style games going. Let the players play without the coach's interference. This is when they start to figure things out. The players can now experiment with their skills, model their hero, and try new and different moves.

Wait...There is More!

The above is a perfect-picture of what the development of off-season basketball should look like—however, one more really important thing to bring to your attention. Strongly encourage middle schoolers to play a spring or outdoor recreation sport different from basketball. They will still find time to work on hoops.

Nothing will make players better than developing other movement skills, being coached by a different coach, and finding a new friend group from their spring sport.

Categories: basketball practice, basketball skills, basketball speed