Ten-time gold medal-winning USA Basketball coach Don Showalter joined our podcast to talk about the benefits of 3×3 basketball for players. You can listen to the podcast now on your preferred streaming platform by clicking here or continue reading the recap below.
Three on three basketball is a new iteration of basketball that is gaining popularity at a very rapid rate. For the first time ever 3×3 basketball was a sport in the Olympics and we saw our USA Women bring home a gold medal!
Coach Showalter broke down the benefits that playing 3×3 can have for a five-person basketball team.
1) It Gets Every Player Involved
When playing 3×3 it is very “hard to hide” so to speak. The faced-paced nature of the game and limited players means that every player has to be involved on both offense and defense. As an offensive player, you are forced to be involved in different actions from ball screens to off-ball screens. This also requires that every defender has to be engaged and moving. Every player has to compete, there is nowhere to hide in 3×3.
2) More Spacing, More Opportunities
One of the major benefits of playing 3×3 in a practice setting is that it provides so much open space that players really learn how to use a ball screen or off-ball screen. Players get the chance to repeatedly be involved in either setting a screen or using a screen both with or without the ball. With there only being three players on each team much of the floor spacing is open, this means that only the primary and secondary defenders are involved in an action. Players get more reps.
3) Helps Team Communication
Similar to the first point, every player has to be engaged and involved in serious 3×3 play. Combining the fact that every player has to be involved and that there is so much spacing, you must talk, specifically on defense in order to make up for the disadvantages that you have given the space. Players learn that they must rely on each other to get stops in this environment.
4) Helps Players Learn What They Need To Work On
Given all three points above if a player is lacking in an area on offense or defense it will be exposed. Everyone has to be able to create a shot. You must be ready to guard every position. You have to be able to hit shots on the move and finish through contact. Most importantly you must be able to handle the basketball. Noone can hide remember? Every player is involved in an action, every player ends up with the ball in their hands given the chaotic nature of the game. This shows players that they must get better to do the things they want to do at a high speed and level.
5) Gets Players In-Game Shape
One of the best benefits of 3×3 is the high intensity of the game and what it can do to a player’s cardiovascular strength. Basketball is an anaerobic sport, meaning that it increases both heart rate and breathing rate. 3×3 will do nothing less than that. Again it forces everyone to be involved every second of play, rarely do you stop moving. Everyone must rebound, and when you get the rebound you immediately get it out to the three-point line to go right back on offense. Players will get in shape and have fun doing it.
6) Give Coaches A Great Opportunity To Coach
When players are forced to practice actions like ball screens repeatedly playing 3×3 players are inevitably going to fail, turn the ball over, or realize they do not know how to properly use the action to score. In these moments a good coach can step in and break down the action and the areas of opportunity within the set.
7) Links Training To Competition
Following up on the point above, 3×3 is a great playground for players to practice what they do in drills. If you are a coach and you are drilling using an off-ball screen with reads like a curl or flare, you can take 3×3 and allow the players to then play live and instruct them that they have to play out of the off-ball screen action.
8) Fosters A Next Play Mentality
3×3 is a very fast-paced form of basketball. If you miss a shot and the other team grabs the rebound, they are immediately either passing or dribbling the ball out behind the three-point line to then try to score right away. There is no time to sulk on a miss or mistake, you immediately flip from offense to defense and have to move on to get a stop and get the ball back.
When playing 3×3 in a practice setting Coach Showalter shared three ground rules to play off of.
- Catch and Square Up
- Move After Pass
- Thank Passer if You Score
As we have mentioned every player is involved in 3×3, this is why “catch and square up” is such an important rule to play by. This teaches players to be a threat on offense when they catch the ball, this then forces the defender to have to stay close and respect the shot. If the offensive player elects not to shoot and they move the ball with a pass then they must cut. This rule will teach players how to move without the ball and also continue to create the chaos that 3×3 is. Lastly, if an action is run well and results in a great pass to score we want to encourage and uplift the passer-by thanking them for the assist. This will help facilitate good teamwork and having fun in the game!
3×3 basketball is on the rise and we believe it is a great thing for our sport. This breakdown version of basketball forces players to really learn how to play the game.
Allowing players the chance to get live reps over and over is going to allow them to grow and learn much faster than a drill ever will. Finding the balance of using 3×3 to the benefit of a 5×5 game is the key.