Most forms of basketball are played with five defined positions. All five of these players play a slightly different role in helping their team win games. It can be very tempting to try to maintain these defined positions when coaching youth basketball, however, that is not always the wisest idea depending on the ages you are coaching. Here are the three reasons defined positions should be avoided in youth basketball.

Teach the Fundamentals

The goal of a youth basketball coach is to teach younger players the fundamentals of the game and give them the skills they need to become better players in the future. The best way to do this is by eliminating defined positions for each member of the team. Let all of the kids spend some time playing center, guard, or forward to see what they excel at and, most importantly, what they enjoy. If you restrict a younger athlete to only playing one position, then he or she is going to struggle in other areas of the game not included in that one position. Slightly different problems arise if a child is only allowed to play point guard, for example. While they will develop passing and dribbling skills, they spend less time learning how to play in the post, or how to box out for a rebound.

It’s Impossible to Predict the Future

It is important to teach the whole team the same fundamental skills as this sets them up to become better players in the future. It is impossible to know what position someone will play in high school based on their size in elementary school. A common mistake among youth basketball coaches, specifically at the elementary level, is assigning positions based on the current height of their players. While it does make sense to have the tallest kid playing center, he or she still needs to develop dribbling, passing, and three-point shooting skills. That player could end being one of the shorter players on their high school team.

The Game is More Fun

Younger athletes are playing basketball because they love the sport, so make sure they are having fun doing just that. Let them all get a chance to emulate their athletic heroes like Steph Curry, Anthony Davis, or LeBron James while they can. There is no need to make basketball feel like a job to them, especially at such a young age. Obviously, serious dedication and discipline will come at a later date, when they are older and have learned much more advanced skills to excel at the sport.