Why play 3X3?

We are huge fans of 3X3 basketball at Split Second. We have a couple hundred players in each of our Winter (insert registration link) and Summer Leagues and have run 3X3 tournaments for several years. 

While we know many of you are already big fans of 3X3, you may not be aware of all the benefits of the game. Let’s take a look at what makes 3X3 such a unique sport and something you should to your basketball game.

  • Olympic sport
  • Easier decision making
  • More touches
  • Less wear and tear

Easier decision making: Even for the most experienced players, full court basketball is a complex sport with 10 players moving in different directions, at different speeds and at different times. While this complexity makes the game really fun and interesting, it can also slow down learning because it can lead to overwhelm. The result is that players often try to simplify the game by resorting to one-on-one basketball off of the dribble instead of trying to get into more complex actions.  

This reliance on one-on-one play isn’t a long term winning strategy for 99% of players (even James Harden relies heavily on his reading and passing ability). It can also be demoralizing for team-mates who don’t touch the ball or get involved in the offense. 

Playing 3X3 is a great solution to the complexity problem. It is much easier for players to set up, read and use important basketball game actions like screens, backdoor cuts, dribble hand-offs and pick-and-rolls…and this simplicity makes young players much more likely to use them in games.

More creativity: Players need to be able to create their own shot to play at higher levels. As great as full court 5X5 basketball is, games for younger players are often more about trying to survive (not turn the ball over) full court trapping defenses than they are about players using their creativity to generate easy scoring opportunities. 

As players get older and better, these “junk” defences become a much smaller part of the game and player creativity is much more important. 3X3 is a great way to give players the time and space to work on their creativity and in a safe and fun environment. Also, because 3X3 is usually played without a coach or series of strict offensive sets, players are much freer to experiment and learn in a competitive setting.

More touches: Running up and down the court without touching the ball can be good for conditioning but isn’t great for building offensive skills or confidence. With only 3 players per team, more space and clearer decision making, 3X3 games require that everyone on the floor be part of the offence and touch the ball. Even in situations where team-mates don’t share the ball as well as they should, players have plenty of opportunities to get the ball by offensive rebounding and by taking it after the other team scores. 

Less wear and tear: The amount of training young athletes get has increased dramatically over the last 20 years. Along with the many positive outcomes from this are a few areas of concern we need to address. 

There is little doubt that athletes wanting to reach the peak of their potential need to put a lot of time and effort into their development. However, if this involves too much pounding on the body at too young an age, the result can be be bodies breaking down instead of building up stronger and healthier. 3X3 half-court basketball is a chance for athletes to play and compete hard, without all of the pounding associated with running the 94 feet of a full length basketball court. 

Mental fatigue or burnout is another concern for young dedicated athletes. As coaches we need to find ways to keep the game fun, fresh and interesting. Switching up from 5X5 to 3X3 is a good way to keep players involved, growing and learning the game but also give them a mental break from usual routine. By offering 3X3 Leagues at strategic times of the year, Split Second Basketball is able to give athletes opportunities to play while avoiding breakdown or burnout. 

Hopefully you’re as convinced as we are that 3×3 is great game and should be part of your basketball development. So whether it’s playing with your friends at lunch, joining a Split Second Tournament series or League, or representing Canada at a future Olympics, we know you’ll have fun and become a better basketball player.

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