The Problem: Due to facility limitations, a lot of youth leagues use 10 ft rims at very young levels. While many leagues have at least some gyms with rim heights less than 10ft, the reality is that there are a LOT of young players that are playing on a court with a rim that is too high for their size and strength (often with basketballs that are too big).
- Younger players become discouraged when they cannot make a shot
- Players are too focused on the results, and not the correct way of getting there
- To make a shot, they must throw (not shoot) the ball, lunge toward the rim, or rotate their hips/shoulders to create enough power to reach the rim. Unfortunately, all of these “patches” involve bad mechanics….and so a large percentage of beginners are “burning in” bad mechanics that will be very hard to correct later on
Strategies: The best way to address this is using lower rim heights and age appropriate basketball sizes. Given that is not always a possibility, coaches need some approaches that can work without ideal rim heights. Some strategies to consider include:
- Find ways to work on developing sound shooting mechanics without a rim
- For players that can barely reach the rim, have them shoot from very short distances. The further they shoot from the more likely they will shoot with bad mechanics, a flat trajectory (not enough arc), etc.
- Some coaches simply focus more on other fundamentals: dribbling under control, passing, defensive slides, and general balance and hand-eye coordination
- When you are doing shooting drills that involve a rim, it’s critical that you keep your players at a distance where they can still shoot with decent mechanics and a good arc
Something to Try: Rainbow Pairs is a simple drill that is done without a rim and helps young players work on good mechanics and a nice release. You can use our 1-2-3 Shooting method (away from the rim) to ingrain good hand positioning and solid mechanics. You can also be creative and have contests to help players work on one of the specific building blocks of a good shot. For example, you can have them try to shoot to a target high up on a wall (vary the target by player size) to work on developing leg power, high arcs, and shooting accuracy. Then you can have a contest to see who can reach the highest point on the wall with good mechanics (to qualify, they need to finish their shot with their body square to the wall, on balance, and holding their follow thru!). To work on developing good alignment, you can have players shoot along a painted line on the gym floor, starting with their strong side foot on the line and seeing who can make the “straightest rainbow” (a ball with a nice arc, that is shot straight and therefore lands on the line ahead of the shooter…and for extra credit some backspin).