Developing Global Players

“Specialization is not only the concept of specialization in one sport; it is also specialization within the sport.”

Two weeks ago we took a look at specialization and how it relates to young athletes, specifically young basketball players. Today I’d like to build on that topic by discussing the concept of developing “global” players and how SNYB coaches can achieve this goal.

So, what is a global player?

Canada Basketball’s Athlete Development Model describes this athlete as one who has worked on all basketball skills and has been trained to play every position. To break this idea down a bit, consider this example:

A SNYB coach has a young athlete in the Learn-to-Train (L2T) stage of development (male age 9-12; female age 8-11) who is the tallest player in their session. A coach’s natural instinct could be to use this player exclusively in the post, and base the individual skills portion of practice to work only on this player’s post skills.

While it is important for a taller player to develop these skills, we as coaches need to understand skill development in the context of this stage in athlete development. This narrow focus on development can potentially prohibit the player from developing all the skills required to play the game at later LATD stages, when other maturing players catch up and pass them in height.

In the FUNdamentals and L2T stages of athlete development, it is important to give players opportunities to develop skills necessary for all positions on the floor. This means that the tallest player in a session completes the same ball-handling drills as a guard would, or that a shorter player is given the same opportunity to learn how to properly set screens as a forward would. This training also includes defense – global players should be able to defend multiple positions, and this ability stems from the fundamental movement skills learned in these two critical stages.

We are seeing more and more truly global players in today’s NBA. A prime example is Draymond Green – an “undersized” forward who is the key to Golden State’s offensive and defensive schemes thanks to his versatility

As you can see in the video above, Green has the ability to shoot, pass, handle the ball, and set effective screens on offense. At the other end of the court, Green can rebound, block shots, and provide disruptive on-ball defense against multiple positions. This multitude of elite skills has made him one of the most valuable basketball players in the world.

Of course, not every young athlete who comes through the SNYB program will become Draymond Green, but this doesn’t diminish the fact that our ability to help develop global players is still worthwhile. Through these teachings, children can develop the skills necessary to play at further LATD stages if they so choose. And if not, they will still benefit in terms of their enhanced functional movement skills. This can allow them to transition to other sports with greater confidence, and sets the stage for continued physical activity in the years to come.

035A8894.jpgJeff Scanlon is the Coordinator – Grassroots & Domestic Development at Canada Basketball. Jeff is a Kinesiology & Physical Education major with a graduate certificate in Sport Business Management, and has been with Canada Basketball since January 2017.


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