Starting A PBDL

Last summer I ran a co-ed Playmakers Basketball Development League for 5th-8th grade boys and girls. The players and I absolutely loved it. Playmakers works because it combines the skills learned in a traditional camp with actual competition. The players not only learn the technical and tactical skills, but immediately apply them in 3v3 games in which they get plenty of playing time and ball touches. The curriculum makes planning each session stress-free, but also leaves room to tweak the schedule and games to fit your group. I encourage any coach that wants to do something great for the kids and not just have fun, but really learn the game to start a Playmakers League.

Joshua Littlejohn
Girls Basketball Coach
Cimarron High School, Cimarron KS

clinic_2bThe Playmakers Basketball Development League emphasizes learning and development through a game-play approach. Presently, players and parents have numerous recreational opportunities – leagues based on fun and equal participation, typically for beginners. There are also numerous competitive opportunities – teams focused on strategy, game preparation and winning. However, there are few true development leagues – until now.

The Playmakers Basketball Development League is based around three main ideas:

1. A focus on fun, learning and development.
2. Players need to play the game to learn the game.
3. Players develop in stages, not all at once.

Players learn by doing. The PBDL goal is slight improvements day-by-day in a fun, positive environment where players feel comfortable going outside their comfort zone and risking mistakes, while nurturing confidence and skill development.

The schedule is set up for two days per week: a weekday 90-minute clinic focused on tactical skills using random drills, and a weekend two-hour league and clinic focused on technical skills and more block practice.

“I just wanted you to know that the reason we chose this camp was because of the PBDL this past fall. I felt it was run extremely well. My daughter enjoyed the coaches. She became a stronger player. The instruction and amount of time she was active (handled the ball) was phenomenal.”
Michelle Z., parent of PBDL player

A sample session:

Emphasis: Ball Handling


  • Dynamic Warm-up
  • Tag
  • 1v1 Foster
  • Individual Ball Handling Drills
  • Rabbit
  • Mass Ball Handling Drills
  • 1v1 Full Court
  • 3v3 Half-Court Cut Throat

The PBDL emphasizes instruction and learning, not rules and the score. During the six weeks, players play approximately 20 league games, plus many more competitive drills/games, but the emphasis is the learning and improvement. Nobody wins a trophy for going undefeated, and no coach stacks a team in his favor. Coaches work together and coach all the teams, not one specific team.

The PBDL is a great alternative to running a summer camp or as an extension of a summer camp. The PBDL also makes a great fall league as preparation for the winter competitive season.

All the drills and progressions are outlined in the Coach’s Handbook and the lessons correspond to the concepts and skills covered in Playmakers: The Player’s Guide to Developing Basketball Intelligence, the book that each participant receives. The curriculum simplifies the process for a coach so that he can focus on managing his staff and teaching the players without worrying about being creative and devising new drills or progressing skills properly.

The PBDL is perfect for an organization looking to diversify its programs or for a high school coach trying to create a feeder program for his or her school.

If you are interested in learning more about starting a PBDL at your school or organization, please click on Contact and use the contact form to start the process.

  • What Is A Playmaker?

    Who decided that a point guard has to be small? More importantly, what is a point guard? We expect a point guard to be a leader and have a high basketball I.Q. Why don’t we expect or challenge all players to develop this game awareness? Why rely on only one player? Read more →
  • The PBDL Concept

    English soccer academies wait until players are 11 to play full 11v11 soccer; in Italy, youth basketball players participate in skill-oriented clinics at 6-years-old, but start competitive games at 12. In the United States, kids play 5v5 full court games and compete for national championships when they are 8-years-old.

    Read more →

  • Starting A PBDL

    The PBDL emphasizes learning and development. Presently, players and parents have numerous recreation options - leagues based on fun and equal participation, typically for beginners - and numerous competitive opportunities - teams focused on strategy, game preparation and winning. There are few true development leagues - until now.

    Read more →