Mini-basketball — basketball for young children — is a school sport played by millions of primary PE pupils across the world, under the age of 12. It was was introduced internationally in 1964

The world development is administered by the Federation Internationale de Basketball (International Basketball Federation; FIBA) with headquarters in the city of Geneva, Switzerland. The international objective is to introduce young people to the world of sport in a spirit of friendship and understanding.

Mini-basketball is fun for all children
In England School Sports Partnerships, schools and clubs can register with Mini-Basketball England (MBE), previously known as the English Mini-Basketball Association (EMBBA). Formed in 1970, the Association was created by officers of the Amateur Basketball Association (now known as the English Basketball Association Ltd) and the English Schools Basketball Association.

Today Mini-Basketball England is affiliated to the English Basketball Association and the Central Council for Physical Recreation (CCPR).

MBE has a national committee. Members of the committee are elected volunteers who help to promote and develop mini-basketball in schools and clubs. Membership is open to all organisations involved in promoting mini-basketball. Registered members of the National Take Six Mini-Basketball programme are asked to pay an annual fee. MBE is wholly dependent on fees, donations and sponsorship.

‘Take six mini-basketball’ – a new version of mini-basketball
Now that there is a national network of School Sports Partnerships, who, as part of their objectives, are creating Physical Education and School Sport Club Links (PESSCL), it is imperative that basketball has a mini-basketball game that can be used in all primary schools and mini-basketball clubs. Take six mini-basketball provides a simplified game format.

The 5 v 5 on court basketball game does not allow children with different abilities to develop their skills and tactical awareness. Take six mini-basketball is a 3 v 3 a-side game which is far more appropriate for most children. Take six gives children the time to make tactical decisions and develop their individual skills. With just five other children on court (rather than the pressure of nine), every child has the chance to really play in the game.

It has also been shown that children are very capable of learning the important roles of scoring, timekeeping and helping to referee the game. Take six mini-basketball gives equal status to children learning to play as well as officiate mini-basketball.

Primary school teachers and mini-basketball coaches need guidance and support in teaching and managing sports activities. The National Take Six Mini-Basketball Programme will provide all the support and knowledge that is required.

Simplified rules

Take six mini-basketball has 10 simplified rules based on the core basketball rules:

  1. To start the game, use a centre pass or a jump ball.
  2. To win the game you must score more baskets than your opponents.
  3. You need to keep yourself and the ball inside the playing area (player out of bounds and ball out of bounds rule).
  4. You cannot walk or run while holding the ball, so in order to move on court you must dribble (travelling rule).
  5. You cannot dribble with two hands at the same time or dribble again after catching the ball (illegal dribble).
  6. You cannot make unfair contact (personal foul).
  7. If fouled in the act of shooting, one shot is awarded from the place of the violation and if successful is worth two points.
  8. To restart the game after a rule violation, a pass is made from out of bounds near where the violation took place.
  9. To restart after the end of a period, use alternate possession.
  10. Use alternate possession to restart the game when possession is unclear, eg a held ball.

The National Programme of Registered Providers
Mini-Basketball England is promoting take six mini-basketball through a national programme. Already there are 40 national registered take six providers offering take six mini-basketball to more than 1,000 primary schools. Registered providers are, more often than not, partnership development managers, but there are also sports development officers, community basketball clubs and commercial children’s sports providers working with primary schools.

Registered providers help local primary schools introduce take six mini-basketball through specially selected activities, which can be used in curriculum PE or at an out-of-hours club. Many School Sports Partnerships are using take six in their development and sports festival programme. Community basketball clubs are coming onboard to provide take six mini-basketball sessions for their local schools as part of physical education and School Sport Club Links.

Training Opportunities
Mini-Basketball England is able to help with providing workshops for coaches, teachers and young leaders and also to train school sports coordinators (SSCos), primary school teachers and community basketball coaches. National training is provided through Val Sabin Publications and Training – nationally renowned for the quality of her courses and resources. Participants qualify as national licensed mini-basketball trainers.

Talent identification in mini-basketball
Richard Bailey is professor of pedagogy at Roehampton University and an advocate for mini-basketball. Richard has worked with UNESCO as an expert adviser on physical education and sport and with the UK government as director of the National Talent Development Project for Physical Education. Over the next 12 months, Richard will be working with the Scottish government on its talent identification strategy.

Richard said: ‘I am very familiar with mini-basketball and have taken part in various courses. I have used mini-basketball on a number of teacher training courses, as I felt that its underlying philosophy reflected my own.’

And Richard suggested: ‘The best long-term approach to talent development is to keep as many children playing as possible. People who talk about choosing “the best kids” ignore a fundamental problem of talent identification: it is virtually impossible to predict the future.’

MBE has long held very similar views. Richard has a key phrase: ‘Children should not be viewed as mini-adults.’ From his research, Richard has found that physical attributes pre-puberty are a poor predictor of post-puberty stature. Psychological profiling is more robust, however.

So Sport for All continues to be the best talent identification strategy. It is important that teachers, coaches and policy makers continue to recognise this.


  • Go to the ready position.
  • Push the ball down with fingers and wrist.
  • When it comes back, let it push the hand up, then push it down again.
  • ‘Five-finger’ feel is important – dribble the ball with five fingertips, not with the whole hand.
  • The ball should go no higher than the waist.
  • Look up and forward.
  • Look about the court and the game.
  • Look for a team-mate in a good position.
  • Protect the ball with the opposite side of your body.
  • Remember the dribble ends when the ball is held in one or two hands.
  • Any number of bounces and steps can be taken and the dribbling hand can be changed.

Cross-over dribble

  • As a defensive player approaches, you need to change direction to protect the ball.
  • As you change direction, plant the foot on the ball side hard against floor with a push.
  • The dribbling hand pushes the ball, slightly from the outside of the ball, across the front of the body (rather than straight down) to the other hand.
  • Be certain to protect the ball with your other arm.


Good stance is as important on defence as on offence. Always play defence in the ready position.

  • A good defensive stance has good balance.
  • Be ready to move – forward, backward or to either side.
  • Most often defending is backward or to the side.
  • Shuffle to move quickly – slide the feet along the floor without crossing feet.
  • Keep arms up at the side and elbows bent.
  • Stay between the player and the basket.

The receiver should be ready to catch.

Lay-up shot

A lay-up shot is a shot on the move, made close to the basket using a one-two count rhythm.

Shooting a right-handed lay-up

  • Start on the right.
  • Pick up ball in two hands.
  • Keep eye on the target (the nearest side of the small rectangle behind the basket).
  • When two steps away, place weight on right foot.
  • Raise ball towards basket.
  • Take long step with the left foot.
  • Lift right knee.
  • Raise ball above the head to shoot.
  • Step high.
  • Keep two hands on ball at height of jump.
  • Lay ball softly off the backboard.

For shooting a left-handed lay-up, it is the same as above, but using opposite feet.

The two-handed set shot

  • Go to the ready position.
  • This is a shot to be taken from a stationary position.
  • Body is square to the basket.
  • Put weight on balls of the feet, heels resting lightly on the floor.
  • Keep both knees bent.
  • Keep feet a shoulder width apart.
  • Foot under shooting hand is slightly forward.
  • Ball held in front of the chest in the fingertips of two hands.
  • Spread fingers wide, thumbs and little finger on ‘line’.
  • Keep thumbs close together at the rear.
  • Elbows are held fairly close to the body.
  • Head is stationary and erect.
  • Eyes should be fixed on the target.

Shooting action

  • This is started by pushing upwards from the feet and straightening the legs.
  • Then the arms push the ball upwards.
  • Follow through: a continuous movement inward and downward rotation of the thumbs, leaving the hands declined slightly at the wrist, palms turned outwards.
  • Eye concentration is essential before release.

NB In basketball, we tend to use the one-handed shot but research has shown that children of mini-basketball will achieve greater success developing their proficiency at the two-handed shot.

Chest pass

  • Be in the ready position.
  • Put weight on front foot.
  • Look at the player to whom the pass is being made.
  • Push the ball towards the receiver and release by extending arms and fingers.
  • Hold the ball in both hands with fingers spread elbows in.


  • Move to the ball quickly but under control.
  • Flex the arms.
  • Show hands as a signal and a target and call for the ball.
  • Come to a stop with the feet shoulder width apart for balance.
  • Then move to meet the pass, step toward the ball – not away.
  • Pivot to face the basket.
  • Look at the ball as it goes into the hands. Use two hands, grasping the ball tightly with the fingers and thumbs.

Two-handed bounce pass
The starting position and technique is similar to the chest pass. The difference is the ball bounces on the floor on the way to the receiver. Remember:

  • Ball must be in ready position in front of chest.
  • Fingers are spread, thumbs nearest to the chest.
  • Reach down and push the ball hard to the floor.
  • Arms and fingers should be extended as the ball is released.
  • Receiver – be ready to catch.

Martin Spencer is the Mini-Basketball England education officer and a school sports coordinator in Northampton. Martin has led mini-basketball projects for FIBA in Europe, Asia and Africa. He was also the FIBA technical director for the European Mini-Basketball Jamborees

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