5.3 Small Sided Games – 3×3
Benefit of “small sided” gamesThe modified rules discussed earlier can be applied in the traditional format of the game – using a full basketball court and with 5 players from each team on the court at a time. Coaches should also consider using “small sided” games with young players as a way to increase their development. In either 3x3 (3 players on the court for each team) or 4x4 (4 players on court for each team) players get more opportunities to have the ball and accordingly there are more opportunities for them to practice the skills of the game. Another advantage of “small sided” games is that there is more “space” on the court (as there are not as many players), which provides more opportunities for players to drive to the basket and to see open team mates if they are under defensive pressure.
3x33x3 is growing in popularity for players of all ages and there is now a World Tour and World Championships for 3x3 basketball 2. 3x3 is regarded as the number one urban sport in the world and provides an excellent opportunity to introduce new people to basketball. 3x3 has quickly become a recognized “discipline” of basketball, very similarly to Beach Volleyball and its relationship to Volleyball. However, we are discussing here the benefits of using a 3x3 format to teach and develop young players not as part of an “elite pathway”. Benefits of using 3x3 for development are:
- Emphasis on 1x1 skills
- Develop understanding of “space” and “movement”
- Develop understanding of man to man defensive positioning
- “More touches” – more involvement in the play
Emphasis on 1x1 SkillsEarlier we indicated that Zone Defence (in the quarter court) should not be allowed until the U16 age group. The reason for this is that the zone defence (particularly with young players) tends to:
- limit opportunities to drive to the basket (as there are 2 or 3 defenders in position at the keyway);
- limit opportunities to pass to players cutting into the key (as there are 2 or 3 defenders in the keyway, young players often struggle to “see” the pass or to make the pass);
- force players to shoot from outside before they have developed the strength and technique to do so.
Develop understanding of “space” and “movement”As shown in the examples earlier, 3x3 provides an excellent opportunity for players to learn, and practice, basic principles of motion offence such as:
- pass and cut;
- pass, cut and replace;
- “flash cut” to the ball;
- “back cuts” when overplayed by the defence.
Young players in particular will commonly move closer to the ball instead of “spacing” themselves around the court. Various alignments can be used in 3x3, which will help to emphasise good spacing, in line with “motion offence” principles that are fundamental to good team play.
One of the reasons that young players will often “crowd” the ball (or move toward it) is that they can only confidently throw the ball a short distance so that they get closer and closer to the ball in the hope of being passed the ball. The initial alignment shown below (player with the ball at the top of the key and the other two players in the “deep corners”) provides great opportunity for players to beat their opponent and drive to the basket as there may be little help defence. The drawback of this alignment is that the distance between players is too great for them to be able to pass – however it does provide an opportunity to either cut or to remain in position to receive a pass from a player driving to the basket. In whatever alignments that are used, coaches should emphasise to players the need to move with “purpose”. Rarely, should a player cut and then stand still. The principles of “motion offence” should be applied in 3x3.
Using 3x3 with TransitionIn international 3x3, the game is played on a half court with one basket only, however with young players it is important that they also experience the transition from “offence to defence” in a full court context. This can obviously be done on a full sized court, although with very young players that can be a significant distance, particularly with only 3 players on a side. However, if a court has “side baskets”, then 3x3 can be used very successfully playing across a half court, with baskets at each end. In this format, basic principles that apply in full court basketball can be applied, such as:
- Defending “Basket” and then “Ball” in transition;
- Turning or Channelling the dribbler;
- Trapping the ball as it crosses enters the front court
- Passing the ball ahead (rather than dribbling full court)
- Running wide “lanes”
- “Driving Lane” and “Passing Lane” principles of 2x1