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Rookie
Starter
All-Star
MVP

Overview

The Jr. NBA is the official youth basketball participation program of the NBA. The Jr. NBA includes a free, membership-based program for existing youth basketball leagues/organizations. The membership is to help encourage and support youth basketball participation and improve the overall youth basketball experience. The Jr. NBA aims to develop a lifelong passion for the game of basketball in boys and girls by teaching them the fundamentals of the sport while instilling core values including teamwork, respect and sportsmanship.

Philosophy

The Jr. NBA Philosophy is to share the game of basketball with youth across the world by teaching skills, values, and wellness in a positive and fun environment. The Jr. NBA’s holistic approach is intended to strengthen the culture of youth basketball, teach life lessons, and empower youth to live a full and healthy life. The Jr. NBA believes this philosophy leads to developing complete and well-rounded basketball players and individuals.

The Jr. NBA philosophy manifests itself in our training through the ABCD’s of the Jr. NBA. The ABCD’s of the Jr. NBA are the foundation of the training and define what the Jr. NBA stands for. Each element of the ABCD’s of the Jr. NBA is equally important and works with the other components to develop well-rounded basketball players and people. Please see below for the ABCD’s of the Jr. NBA.

ALWAYS FUN
We love the game of basketball because at its core, it’s FUN! Basketball should be fun at every level, and as Jr. NBA players make progress in their development, their understanding of fun also evolves. So whether it’s encouraging a firsttime player as she learns to dribble, or helping a young boy set goals, the game should always be oriented around fun. Fun is always a part of the Jr. NBA training.

BUILDING SKILLS
Building basketball skills is an essential part of learning the game. The Jr. NBA recognizes that skill development is a process that is especially important to youth players. The Jr. NBA uses a skill progression checklist that helps players advance through developmental levels.

As Jr. NBA players master skills and advance in the training, skill categories grow more advanced. This approach helps Jr. NBA players to continually develop and enjoy the positive reinforcement of mastering new skills!

CULTIVATING VALUES
The game of basketball provides everyone involved the opportunity to learn countless life lessons. The lessons learned in the Jr. NBA training will be with our players for a lifetime. Therefore, the Jr. NBA makes it a priority to cultivate these core values throughout all programming.

A key tenet of the Jr. NBA philosophy is to incorporate a character-building messages into every practice. Values are also taught in unscripted situations, and we encourage our coaches to embrace those opportunities as well. The Jr. NBA character lessons will undoubtedly go beyond the court and help youth players in other areas of their lives.

DEVELOPING WELLNESS
One of the best parts of the game of basketball is that it promotes wellness across many dimensions of life. The Jr. NBA wants to address, educate, and encourage young players to be healthy in each of these areas.

The Jr. NBA believes that developing as a complete person is more important than developing just as a basketball player. Whether it is understanding more about nutrition or learning time management skills, themes of wellness will be applied throughout the training.

Jr. NBA Pathway

The Jr. NBA Pathway has been developed to help players, parents, coaches, and organizations better understand the process of improvement.

The Jr. NBA pathway is a developmentally-based progression that depends on players mastering new skills before advancing to the next level. The Jr. NBA Development Pathway is not based on a player’s age, but rather his or her proficiency at key skills.

The Jr. NBA Pathway is divided into four levels.


ROOKIE
STARTER
ALL-STAR
MVP

The Jr. NBA Pathway consists of four levels. At each level, there will be unique methods, messages, skills, and drills that incorporate and teach the ABCD’s of the Jr. NBA.

Coaching The Jr. NBA Pathway

HOW IT WORKS
he Jr. NBA training comes to life in the pathway via a series of 12 practice plans at each of the four levels. The pathway has been developed so that players and coaches learn and teach the game in a natural, long-term progression. Each level will have a skill checklist that identifies specific skills that players must learn and develop before advancing to more challenging skills and drills in the next level. The skills are taught at particular levels not only based on physical ability, but also where the players are cognitively.

WHAT LEVEL IS APPROPRIATE?
If you aren’t sure where a player/team fits in the pathway, you must first assess them to understand their strengths and weaknesses.
After assessing the players you can identify how to help each player/team, determine where in the pathway (via the skill checklist) the player/team fits, and develop a plan and a goal for the player’s/team’s development.
Understand that it could take years to see players/teams comfortably progress through skills at each level. Challenge the player/team while maintaining patience when deciding to introduce new skills, drills, and concepts from the next level of the pathway.
Note that the practice plans in this training serve as sample progressions. Based on your player’s/team’s strengths and weaknesses, number of practices, frequency of practice, and the length of the season, your practice plans may progress differently.

TRANSITIONS
One very important part of practice for coaches is the transition from drill to drill. Many drills should flow seamlessly from one to the next, however if you need time to prepare for the next drill, there are numerous transitions that can be executed. One example we encourage coaches to utilize is having the players take 1 walking lap around the court. Upon their return, the players and coaches are ready for the next drill.

WATER
We do not specify where in practice you should take water breaks. We feel that coaches can best understand the player’s needs in the moment and can fully determine when to allow water. At the same time, we encourage regular water breaks to ensure players stay hydrated.

FREETHROWS
Our practice plans rarely dictate when a player/team should shoot free throws. Again, we feel that coaches can assume the role of decision-maker and add free throws when they feel it is appropriate.

NBA PLAYERS STILL PRACTICE
Remember, coaching a player/team in the MVP level does not mean you shouldn’t work on the skills taught in the Rookie level. Our model allows you to teach advanced skills, drills, and concepts when appropriate while never overlooking the fundamentals of the game that must be maintained. For example, form shooting is introduced in the Rookie level, but it is also a drill that more advanced players (including NBA players) continue to perform.

NBA & USA BASKETBALL YOUTH GUIDELINES
The NBA and USA Basketball have partnered to develop guidelines designed to promote a positive and healthy youth basketball experience. These guidelines prioritize the health and well-being of young athletes while enhancing enjoyment, participation, and development in the game. Please see the guidelines that follow.

RECOMMENDED PARTICIPATION GUIDELINES

AGE GAME LENGTH GAME PER WEEK PRACTICE LENGTH # OF PRACTICES
PER WEEK
Ages 7-8 20-28 minutes 1 30-60 minutes 1
Ages 9-11 24-32 minutes 1 to 2 45-75 minutes 2
Ages 12-14 28-32 minutes 2 60-90 minutes 2 to 4
Grades 9-12 32-36 minutes 2 to 3 90-120 minutes 3 to 4

MAXIMUM PARTICIPATION GUIDELINES

AGE # OF GAMES/DAY # OF HOURS PER WEEK IN
ORGANIZED BASKETBALL
Ages 7-8 1 1 hours
Ages 9-11 2* 5 hours
Ages 12-14 2* 10 hours**
Grades 9-12 2* 14 hours**

The maximum participation guidelines outlined above are intended to serve as limits on a young athlete’s participation in organized basketball. It is possible that participation in organized basketball within the maximum limits but in excess of the recommendations is also not advisable from a health and wellness standpoint; however, this issue requires further study.
* Youth basketball players, parents and coaches should demonstrate caution in scheduling or participating in more than one game per day, especially on consecutive days. If young athletes participate in an event or tournament in which more than one game is played per day on consecutive days, players should have additional time off from sports activities following the event to allow for recovery.
** It is recommended that young athletes in these age ranges who are approaching these maximum hour limits not participate in another organized sport concurrently.

REST GUIDELINES

AGE MIN. # OF REST DAYS PER WEEK MAX. MONTHS PER YEAR IN ORGANIZED BASKETBALL RECOMMENDED HOURS OF SLEEP PER NIGHT
Ages 7-8 2 4 months 9-12 hours
Ages 9-11 2 5 months 9-12 hours
Ages 12-14 1 7 months 8-10 hours*
Grades 9-12 1 9-10 months 8-10 hours

* For 12 year olds, 9-12 hours of sleep is recommended

THE NBA RECOMMENDS
Playing multiple sports helps kids make new friends and develop new skills. Medical and scientific experts recommend early sports sampling and delaying single-sport specialization until mid to late adolescence. Playing multiple sports should not be viewed as falling behind, but rather as building the foundation for future success. Research shows that early sport specialization is NOT necessary to produce elite-level performance.
Sports sampling, which is characterized by participation in multiple sports during childhood, provides a young athlete the chance to find a sport that may ultimately fit him or her best. There are several demonstrated benefits of sports sampling:

  • Prolonged engagement in sports
  • More enjoyable and positive early sports experiences
  • Healthy physical, psychological, and social development
  • Transfer of skill acquired from multiple sports to primary sport if specialization occurs

Current research does not support the view that early singlesport specialization is either necessary or sufficient to produce elite performance at advanced levels of competition. In fact, early single-sport specialization in basketball and other team sports may be detrimental to long-term elite performance.
Athletes that reach the highest level of achievement have been shown to be more likely to have played multiple sports at a young age compared to athletes that reach relatively lower levels of achievement. With respect to basketball and other similar ball sports, world-class athletes often delayed single-sport specialization until age 16 or later.