QUESTION… My son came to me with this question and I told him I would ask you for your opinion:
“Why is it that when we practice we are taught not to double dribble or travel, but when we play against the other teams, the referees let them stop and dribble again, dribble with 2 hands, and even pick up the ball and run with it? I don’t think it is fair that we can’t do those things and they can.”
Now, let me set the scene; this is a 2nd grader that is playing on a basketball team that plays in a recreational league against other teams made up of 1st and 2nd graders. Apparently in their games, the referee is relaxed about allowing double dribbling and traveling with the ball, which of course creates an unfair advantage, for the team who hasn’t been trained yet in the fundamental skills. I mean come on; even I could have made a career out of playing basketball if I was granted those same privileges.
ANSWER… I love this question! It is wrong for the officials to let this happen. And yes, it happens a lot. It happens for several reasons: 1. It happens because the referees who often officiate the younger divisions are usually high school aged or very young adults. These “kids” usually do not have enough confidence to make those calls as often as needed. 2. They have the mindset that, if those violations were called all the time, it would ruin the game for everyone. Kind of the “just let the kids play” mentality.
But, both of these circumstances are wrong in my opinion. It is in these games that a lot of teaching needs to take place. When I officiate these games, I blow the whistle a lot and explain what the violation was and enforce the rules. The kids need to learn, and it is amazing to see how they do learn and after a few games the double dribbling and traveling becomes much less of an issue. But, it takes an official with a lot of confidence, and passion to be able to do this. When a double dribble violation happens, the referee needs to blow his whistle and explain what just happened so the kids learn.
When I do this, I blow my whistle, explain what just happened, and often I recreate the movement again for all to see. Many kids learn visually. Early in the game and early in the season, after I explain and demonstrate what just happened, I will give the ball back to the player who violated the rule and let play continue. I will do this just the first couple times, and then after the explanation and demonstration, enforce the rule by giving the ball to the other team. This is the way that the kids learn. And, it doesn’t take away from the game. Parents want their kids to learn how to play. That’s why they sign them up in the first place.
Most parents and even kids get more frustrated with the “just let them play” style rather than the “stop the game and teach” style.
Have you ever watched a volleyball game with young kids learning how to play? One team just bangs the ball back over the net, regardless of form or without any strategy. The other team tries to use the proper mechanics and strategies by trying to “bump, set, and spike” method. Well, in that process of 3 kids hitting the ball before the ball goes back over the net, the chance of error is great, and the ball often times doesn’t make it over.
The team just “banging” it over may win the game, but they are really losing the long-term goal of learning the correct mechanics.
It is this other team that will have kids improving their game, learning the fundamental skills, progressing in skill development and learning the strategies of the game. They are actually the winners.
The same thing with basketball; maybe they will lose a few games along the way, but they surely will win the battle of becoming better players.
So, let your son know that even if the referee lets the other team violate the rules, he will benefit long term from playing the game the right way.
If you have questions or comments for Tom Kuyper, you can email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org