Are you getting the most out of your open gym runs?
If you’re just rolling the ball out and saying here you go you may be missing ways to get your players better and excited about open gyms. Holding poor vs good open gyms can be the difference between growing your program and struggling with player turn-out year after year. Let’s mix it up a bit and make your player and program better through open gyms.
Here are four tips for better basketball open gyms:
- Invite the younger grades.
You read that right, invite the younger grades to your open gyms. You don’t have to let your middle school players play against your varsity squad, that just wouldn’t make much sense. You can have a court designated for 8th and 9th graders and another court for 10th through 12th graders though. What you will find is the younger players will be playing, which is good in itself, but you’ll also see them watch the older players and be inspired to work on their game. If you want your program to get better your kids need to be in the gym, but they also need to see what it takes to be a member of the elite varsity team.
- Start with 3 v 3 games and then go to 5 v 5.
The point of open gym is to get players in the gym, having fun, and working on their skills. What’s the best way to do this? You allow everyone to get touches on the ball. Playing 3 v 3 allows for every player to dribble, shoot, pass, defend, rebound, etc. Players will be working on the very skills you need them to have to win games while having the ball in their hands. When players get to touch the ball they have fun and want to come back and play in the next open gym. Let’s not neglect 5 v 5, after all this is how the real games are played. After a bit of 3 v 3 have the players split up and play 5 v 5.
- Have players make a free throw to seal the win.
No matter if the games go to 7, 11, win by two, or straight up have the player who scored the final basket go to the free trow line and make a free throw to seal the win. If the player misses, the last basket doesn’t count and the defense gets the ball. This puts pressure on your players to hit free throws in pressure situations.
- Blocks and tips out of bounds go to the defense.
A hustle play can change the momentum of a game and in some instances be the determining factor at the end of a game. Incorporate this mindset and attitude in open gym play be rewarding the defense when they block or tip the ball out of bounds. By implementing this rule you will have players taking better shots, making better passes, and your defense will be rewarded for making good defensive plays and great hustle plays. It's a win-win on both sides of the ball for your basketball program.