Canada Basketball has released a new rulebook aimed at providing a guide for school and community basketball organizers to provide a quality experience for children beginning in the sport.  Mini-Basket is designed for school, community or club basketball players and programs.  The philosophy of Mini-Basket is to allow children to play a game that is better suited to the development of their physical, mental and basketball skills by instituting long term athlete development (LTAD) modifications to the adult game.  With high repetitions and touches, it is player oriented with the emphasis is on skill development in combination with the teaching and loading of actions.

The aim of Mini-Basket is to provide a rich and high quality experience for youth basketball players.  In turn, a positive experience will help foster their passion as they grow with the sport.  The emphasis of Mini-Basket is on the quality of the experience and its appropriateness to the age and ability of the participant.    
The adult game of basketball is played with a large ball, a full court and ten-foot hoops.  In Mini-Basket, the size of the ball, court size and number of players is reduced and the height of the hoop is lowered.  There are fewer rules that are gradually introduced as the player’s progress in their skill development and understanding of the game, keeping it developmentally appropriate.


Benefit 1: Increased Handling of the Ball
When youth play traditional 5 on 5 games, it is common for 1-2 players to rarely touch the ball. This is especially true when a team has 1-2 dominant players who are the best ball handlers or are early developers.  Teammates tend to pass the ball to those players and those players tend to take the ball to the basket and sometimes coast to coast, failing to work on team and decision making skills. This results in other players not developing their skills. The dominant player is only working on a few skills, and the team isn’t developing as a whole.

In Mini-Basket, everyone must be involved for a team to have success.  All players get to handle the ball almost every possession allowing for more skill repetition in competition environments and therefore, providing the best opportunity for skill development to occur.

Benefit 2: Better Spacing
Even with the smaller bodies of young players, 5 on 5 games are crowded.  Youth basketball is not the right environment for players to practice dribbling through double teams or passing through multiple types of coverage - their skill package is underdeveloped to be successful in those areas.
Mini-Basket opens the court up and provides players with more room to operate.  Youth can play in open space, allowing them the opportunity better practice and load their skills without multiple defenders crowding the ball. This spacing also allows for players to practice individual and team decision-making skills (advantages, when to shoot/pass/drive).

Benefit 3: Focus on Basketball Skills & Actions
Mini-Basket emphasizes individual skills as well as 1, 2 and 3 player actions that are the foundation for successful 5 on 5 play.  The focus is on concept development as opposed to being system and set oriented. 
Defense for Mini-Basket is player-to-player, creating opportunities at the offensive end for freedom, decision-making and creativity to develop.

Benefit 4: More Directed Competition
Games in Mini-Basket competitions are shorter in duration but more frequent, allowing players to face multiple opponents in one competition day.  The number of players is reduced, allowing for maximal competition experience and playing time during this developmental stage.  Players can play in classifications (A, AA and AAA) based on their development and skill level to challenge the elite players, while keeping new and late developing players involved.



Youth play 3 versus 3 with a size 3 ball and an 8-foot hoop.  The court is half court with no 3-point shot awarded.  Games are 10 minutes long with 4 players per team.  Multiple games against different opponents are played over the course of the competition.


Youth at this level play 4 versus 4 with a regulation size 5 ball and 9-foot hoop.  The court is crosscourt with a regulation 3-point line. Games are 12 minutes long with 6 players per team.  Multiple games against different opponents are played over the course of the competition.


At young ages, children are competing too often with over-zealous parents and coaches wanting to win, robbing them of the opportunity to have fun and develop skills that will enable them to be successful.  Steve Norris PhD
Please download the Mini-Basket informative poster here


For clubs, school & other programs that are interested in adapting the Mini-Basket competition model, please make use of the below Mini-Basket resources.

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