Myth Busters On Games Versus Skill Development

Written by MIKE MACKAY (High Performance Manager, Women’s High Performance Program, Canada Basketball)


“The greatest myth currently being perpetuated is the idea that basketball players can improve their skills by playing numerous games. Many of our developmental athletes are sometimes playing up to six basketball games on a weekend. This is often preceded by only one practice during the week prior.

Upon closer inspection we see that if that athlete played six games on weekend this is actually only 192 minutes of basketball, if they played every minute of every game (i.e. 32 minute per game x 6 = 192 minutes).

Let us now assume that there was an equal split between the time spent on offense and defense (192 divided 2 = 96 minutes on offense). Since there are five players on the floor we will estimate that an individual player would only have the ball for 1/5 of this time (96 divided by 5 = 19.2 minutes). It is very difficult to develop your ball handling, passing, shooting, lay ups, movement without the ball and fitness in only 19.2 minutes.

By going to a well constructed practice of one hour in length, the athlete would have surpassed the amount of developmental basketball played in the entire six games on a weekend.

If you want to develop a skill like shooting, it requires deliberate practice to accumulate the number of repetitions that the experts say you need in order to master the skill. If the athlete took on average 10 shots a game it would take over 10,000 games to get up 100,000 shots.”

Food for thought.