Children Shall Dunk – Or How to Re-imagine Basketball

We should re-imagine basketball.

The current rules are designed to suit men’s top level. Elite players can go coast-to-coast in a flash, palm the ball, throw end-to-end passes, dunk the ball thunderously, hit threes as if they were lay-ups. You know, do all kinds of cool stuff and play in 3D.

The rest – kids, women, recreational male players – are left with a ball game that’s nice but 2D and kinda basic, even dull.

It needn’t be so. We could change the rules so that players of all levels would get to really enjoy the game. If baskets were lowered, dunks could be as common in women’s games as they are in men’s. If the line was closer, recreational players could hit threes at the same rate the NBA players do.

Especially kids’ basketball needs modifications. At the moment the ball is too big and heavy, the court is too large, the baskets are too high, there may be too many players on the floor. There is a huge discrepancy between kids’ size and physical capabilities and the rules of the game.

Yes, I know that there have been all kinds of local modifications and that women use a smaller ball than men do. My point is that overall, internationally, the modifications have been way too conservative. The movement patterns kids use are totally different from the patterns used by top adult players.

To me it looks like the men’s rules are considered the default setting, even the “natural” brand of basketball. The authorities seem unnecessarily reluctant to stray away from the version of basketball that includes 5-on-5 play, size 7 ball, 10-foot baskets. It’s kinda funny, because obviously all versions of basketball are mere man-made fabrications.

If I knew exactly how the rules should be modified for different levels and age groups, I’d be glad to tell you. But I don’t know. As usually when rules are being modified, some research would be in order. Something may be on the way. And I think basketball people all over should start experimenting with different types rules and equipment.

Harri Mannonen

FIBA certified coach based in Kouvola, Finland

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