Camp Sim­pli­fies Game For Keiki Hoop­sters

MidWeek (Hawaii) - - Front Page - KEEP­ING SCORE Bob Hogue

If you’ve ever watched young­sters play­ing bas­ket­ball on a nearby play­ground, you might be im­pressed with their en­thu­si­asm. But you also might be less im­pressed with their over­all bas­ket­ball knowl­edge. Sure, they re­al­ize the ob­ject on of­fense is to get the ball in the bas­ket and the goal de­fen­sively is to try and pre­vent that from hap­pen­ing, but how deep is that un­der­stand­ing?

Do they pass and cut? Do they move with­out the ball? Can they set a screen and roll off it? Can they move their feet on de­fense? Can they block out their op­po­nent on a re­bound? All of this is fun­da­men­tal, but much of it can be lost on young­sters who sign up for youth league teams and seem to learn the game as just a set of po­si­tions on of­fense and de­fense.

Vet­eran col­le­giate and high school coach Chic Hess no­ticed that, too. That’s why his lat­est weekly bas­ket­ball camp, Lit­tle Drib­blers, which is held Satur­day morn­ings on the play­ground at St. An­thony School in Kailua, fo­cuses on teach­ing the game in a smaller set­ting.

“We cater to kids grades 3 through 6 (ages 8-12) and we play 3-on-3 bas­ket­ball on smaller courts with a 9-foot bas­ket,” he says. “It does won­ders for their bas­ket­ball IQ, and it’s also a lot of fun.”

For the two dozen or so boys and girls who show up each Satur­day be­tween 9 and 11 a.m., it’s a chance to learn the game and build con­fi­dence. Over the years, Hess had seen too many young­sters fail to blos­som in part be­cause “in 5-on-5, you can ba­si­cally hide out there. One or two play­ers tend to dom­i­nate,” he says. “With our Lit­tle Drib­blers pro­gram, fewer play­ers on the court means each player re­ceives so many more touches of the bas­ket­ball. The more touches means more op­por­tu­ni­ties, and the more op­por­tu­ni­ties leads to a player learn­ing to make de­ci­sions more quickly in a com­pet­i­tive sit­u­a­tion. The kids who come just love it.”

Hess also thinks us­ing a rim lower than 10 feet, as well as a smaller ball, helps with co­or­di­na­tion and de­vel­op­ment. “Kids are not minia­ture adults. You have to bring the game down to them,” he says. “When I was get­ting my doc­tor­ate years ago, I saw the dif­fer­ence in suc­cess at a lower rim, so I be­lieve in it. Stud­ies in other sports, like a smaller soc­cer ball for the youth in Brazil, also re­vealed that a smaller ball re­ally helps the kids. Plus, the ball goes in the bas­ket eas­ier, and who doesn’t like the thrill of scor­ing bas­kets?”

Hess stresses a num­ber of ba­sic fun­da­men­tals i n his teach­ings, but one runs con­trary to what you see in so many youth leagues or in park ball. “I think kids learn more by play­ing man-to-man rather than zone,” he says. “Is there any­thing worse than a zone de­fense in youth bas­ket­ball? Man-to-man teaches move­ment and re­spon­si­bil­ity and makes the game much more fun.

“We try to teach the game in what I call ‘chunks,’” he says. “Small- sized games al­lows you to teach small chunks of bas­ket­ball with­out con­fus­ing young play­ers. It be­comes eas­ier to teach the pick and roll, screen­ing away, how to back cut, and much more. Break­ing the game down i nto chunks means more fun!”

If you’d like more in­for­ma­tion about the Lit­tle Drib­blers pro­gram, feel free to reach out to Coach Hess at 282-6949 or by email at coachchichess@ Or, just drop by next Satur­day morn­ing at 9. It’s free!

This year’s happy cam­pers in­clude (from left) Lo­gan Souza, Car­los Frat­i­celli, Jake Hi­raoka, Joel Bo­los, Court­ney Kuwaye, Hunter Pre­meaux, Bren­nan Lee, Keane Guy, Lo­gan Olsen, Jack Hess and Loeka Guy.

By par­tic­i­pat­ing in 3-on-3 play, cam­pers (from left) Jake Hi­raoka, Lo­gan Olsen, and Keane and Loeka Guy re­ceive more op­por­tu­ni­ties on the court.

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