Let’s try not to get ahead of ourselves here.

Coaching the next generation of hoopers doesn’t imply dismissing all precedent for what has contributed to the talent level we witness today.

  • Versatile defenders capable of switching multiple matchups
  • 3-level scoring: finishing, efficiency between perimeter to paint, and extended range
  • Ingenuitive footwork (pressuring the refs to study the fine print in the rulebook)
  • Size, strength, and skill blurring conventional position profiles

This is less about predicting the future for skill development and more about how it will be taught moving forward. The game has always been about shooting and spacing (loosely termed e.g. ballhandling ability to drive, reading defenders in confines of the offense, etc.). Today’s style of play just so happens to stretch further from the rim. So the best scorers are demonstrating that adaptation and showcase how to take advantage of the additional space. On the defensive side of things; reverse engineer the problem into a solution. Improving defenders work on spatial awareness and disrupting shooting percentages.

Let’s re-direct our attention toward the evolving methodology used to teach the next wave of ball players.

What’s trending with Player development?

  • Individual Trainers/Coaches & Small Group Training
  • Rise of 3v3 leagues
  • Focus on microskills (e.g. footwork, finishing or ballhandling manipulation)
  • Advantage/Disadvantage Drills or SSG
  • Use of Video & Social (e.g. highlights watched & made, or training apps)
  • Integrating read-based activities

There is a groundswell for fostering an environment of creativity and randomization. Practices or workouts are becoming less of a dress rehearsal and more of an open mic night.

An example of a dress rehearsal could be the execution of 5v0 offense over and over again – training memorization or synchronized coordination. Open mic nights are more analogous to live reps in front of an audience, or worse – there’s hecklers trying to disrupt previously prepared strategy. It is a game-based approach versus a barrage of breakdown drills; which do still serve a purpose.

How does This help the NEXT GENERATION of Athletes?

The inclusion of increased live-action aims to accomplish a few things:

  1. Keep today’s players engaged
  2. Embeds decision-making in a more live simulation
  3. Challenges the creativity of players, thus building agency in their own development

What can we expect for the future?

The rise of 3v3 leagues feels like it is here to stay. I expect it to continue to grow, particularly at the youth level increasing inclusion and condensing learning opportunities during competition.

It’s hard to think of the future and not speculate what other advancements of technology there will be to impact the game. Two things come to mind: digital and data.

Digital applications already are playing a significant role in the game for the purpose of instant feedback, exposure, and team connectivity. Then there are the advancements of data collection. Whether it is coming from advanced analytics dissected to identify vulnerabilities, or investing in a “shooting gun” that prints out the miss/make receipts from the workout.

Coaches are responsible for the extraction of player potential largely from opportunities with practices, workouts, and games. Part of that responsibility comes from the recognition of identifying the most effective tools to train. Every player learns differently, so we as coaches also need to be aware of today with an anticipation to “change with the times” to continue developing the next generation of basketball players.

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