Monday, February 10, 2020

Little Dribblers Basketball

Boy, Child, Basketball, Helmet, Football This past weekend, the third and fourth graders began playing basketball games before the older kids.  We refer to them as little dribblers but I don't know if it is just a name used or if they are actually associated with a national organization.  What I can say for sure is that I've seen it being done at several schools in rural Alaska.

The little dribblers encompass grades 3 to 6 and are focused on teaching kids basketball skills within a fun framework.  I don't know much about basketball but I can referee the third and fourth graders when they play.

The rules tend to be more limited so they have fun while developing skills.  The refs only call out of bounds or too much travel, or possibly too much enthusiasm for stealing the ball but other than that, the kids play.  The out of bounds rule is the most consistently enforced one. because they need to understand they have to stay inside the court and not run out, down the hallway, to keep the ball safe.  Yes, we had one kid try that.

The too much travel means the child got the ball and ran with it down the court without bouncing it at least once.  When they are young, some children are not quite as coordinated as others so they sometimes take a few steps before they manage to dribble the ball with both hands.  Others aren't sure who to pass the ball to so they turn around in a circle and move around trying to figure that out.  It is cute to watch and the audience grins and smiles at this.  Occasionally, you do end up with a child who has played enough basketball to be coordinated but they forget which end is their basket.  On Saturday night, one of the boys saw the basket was unprotected and went for it.  The only problem is that it belonged to the other team and they got the point.  Don't worry, the same thing happened in the middle school game.

The last one is quite common.  Sometimes kids get so determined to get the ball they will run up to someone, hit them or tackle them to get the ball.  Yes, that is immediately called and it is explained to the child that is not allowed.  The other way students go after balls is to walk up and try to grab it but I've seen the two refuse to let go and they were really struggling until the refs blew their whistle and broke it up.  I've also seen both teams get in on it so it looked more like a tackled pile of bodies and you couldn't see the bottom. Fortunately, no one is really hurt and they are still friends afterwards.

The philosophy for this group is to develop skills while having fun. On the other hand, by the time they move up into the fifth and sixth grades, they are expected to follow more rules so they are playing a better game of basketball.  They are expected to dribble the ball properly while running, obey the over and back rule which is relaxed for the younger students, and they begin to count three point throws.  This is the place they begin fine tuning their skills while still having fun.

Yes, you still have your few who have coordination issues but over all, they are developing into real players. Unfortunately, I have seen a few skills use this program to develop competitive players even in the third and fourth grade group.  They had tryouts and only selected those who were good so the others didn't get the chance to have fun or develop their skills but over all most school let them have fun so playing basketball is enjoyable.

One other thing about this is that they also cycle through the children so they get equal playing time on the floor.  One school broke the quarters in half so a buzzer went off, the game stopped, and another group of five cycled in.  Others send subs in ever couple of minutes so none of the children get too tired and everyone plays.  I like that.

As I said, I don't know if it is a national program or just something in Alaska but I really like it.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

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