Can Covid-19 be a turning point for Indian Basketball ?

What many thought as impossible in such a complex and peculiar combination of human behavior in every strata of society, Covid-19 did what one never even imagined would ever happen. Could we ever have thought that we could just not go out of our homes for weeks together ? Walking around in masks ? Working from Home? Holding only online meetings? That being so, is there an opportunity within the crisis to break some of those decade old barriers in Indian sport – at least in Basketball. Well, why not give it a shot ! This is what I think.

A major area for the development of Basketball which needs radical changes is perhaps the method of teaching, training and learning. We have unfortunately been learning it the wrong way because we never ever had the chance to learn it the right way. Skill learning in the game of Basketball is almost standardized the world over in most of the top Basketball playing nations in the world. But in India, its a different ball game altogether – be it Shooting, Dribbling , Passing or any of the advanced skill-sets. Each player does it differently ignoring the nuances of perfection of that skill. There could be multiple reasons and explanations as to why it is so in India but my feel is that we never learnt it right.

The unfortunate part is that unlearning a skill after a particular age is even more complex and will result in a decline in performance which thereby prevents the trainee adopting the change for fear of being left behind for sometime till the modified learning process instills back the confidence level in the player. Many of the foreign coaches have felt that the 10-12 year time span wherein a player matures to the Senior level ( with the fundamentals wrong) makes it too rigid for change in the short term. So what is the solution ?

It is not that our players cannot learn these skills the right way, but they never had the access to the right learning process. Basketball at the school level is mostly taught by young Amateur coaches ( and they are the backbone in the growth at the grass-root level for sure) whom I would prefer to refer as “Trainers”. Unfortunately, most of these trainers rarely had the chance to learn it right nor to teach it right and inevitably pass on these mistakes ( rather the nuances ) to their trainees. So this is where we need to create a support system in up-skill these trainers with the right methods and skill sets so that the fundamentals are well set in the upcoming generation of players right from the High School & College level. And for sure, the quality of the skills will see a change for the better and improve the game substantially. Now, to achieve that, we need to standardize at least the core skills of Shooting, Dribbling & Passing at an early level. And the opportunity that I see in the Covid-19 scenario is the online learning option which would help in standardization. This embedded with technology should be able to bring about a serious impact if done the right way.

We need to develop clarity of the basics through an interesting mode of teaching with good Video & audio content. What better time than now when online seems to be the only option for the next few months. So I think its time for a Byju’s in Basketball teaching as the ideal way forward at this juncture.

It is in this context that this needs to be explored quickly before we miss the bus when everything gets back to normalcy ( hopefully soon) and the same mistakes continue. The qualitative change in the teaching and learning of the sport can perhaps be the game-changer for the sport of Basketball in India since better quality brings better results. And when victories come our way, the support for the game enhances which is what the sport badly needs to be among the top 3-4 sports in India.

Well, its easier said than done but some of my colleagues are working on this option. Lets see how it develops.

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