Hey Coach – need some ideas to make basketball fun?

Posted on Jan 09 2020

Steve Teakel is the Head of Community Basketball with Basketball Australia. He has extensive experience in coach development and education across multiple sports and has devised programs for youth coaches. Steve shares with us some ideas on ensuring sport remains fun for children and players of all ages.

Why do you choose to play sport? ……..because it is fun! This has consistently been the number one response to surveys on why children participate in junior and youth sport.

So, what does fun mean in a sporting context – from a players, parents and coaches view?

Some research asked players (75% participated in more than one sport), coaches and parents to identify all the things that make playing sports fun – the final list revealed 81 determinants of fun.

It was interesting that winning was in the lower end of the determinants of fun.

These were then sorted into groups by the players, coaches and parents – creating 11 sub – groups with specific and actionable behaviours that promote and foster fun.

The 11 sub – groups were:

  • Being a good sport (positive team dynamics)
  • Trying Hard
  • Positive and encouraging coaching
  • Learning and improving
  • Getting playing time
  • Games
  • Practices
  • Team Friendships
  • Mental bonuses
  • Team rituals
  • Swag (uniform and equipment)

Of these 11 sub-groups the fun determinant that was rated most highly:

Sub Group Fun Determinant
Being a Good Sport ·      Playing well together as a team

·      Being supported by my team mates

·      Supporting my team mates

·      When players show good sportsmanship

·      Getting help from team mates

Trying Hard ·      Trying your best

·      Exercising and Being active

·      Working hard

·      Playing well during a game

·      Being strong and confident

·      Getting/staying in shape

·      Competing

·      Making a good play

·      Setting and achieving goals

Positive Coaching   ·      When a coach treats players with respect

·      When a coach encourages the team

·      Having a coach who is a positive role model

·      Clear, consistent communication from the coach

·      Coach allows mistakes and stays positive

·      Coach listens and considers your opinion

Learning and Improving ·      Being challenged and get better

·      Learning from mistakes

·      Ball touches

·      Learning new skills

·      Using a skill you learned in practice during a game

·      Playing different positions

Game Time Support ·      Parents show good sportsmanship – encouraging – not yelling

·      Acknowledged or complimented for playing well

Games ·      Getting playing time

·      Playing in your favourite position

·      Playing against an evenly matched team

Practices ·      Having well organized practices

·      Having freedom to play creatively

·      Playing games at training

·      Variation in drills and activities

Team Friendships ·      Getting along with teammates

·      Being around your friends

·      Having a group of friends outside school

Mental Bonuses ·      Keeping positive attitude
Team Rituals ·      High fiving, fist bumping, hugging

·      Showing team spirit

Swag ·      Nice sports gear and equipment


In order to make participating in basketball more appealing to all there are a number of practical implications for coaches, clubs and parentsto consider from the research:

  • Clubs can use this research to reassess their mission statement and vision
  • Educate parents on the value of the sport and how they play a key part in creating a fun, positive experience through their behaviours
  • Discuss with their players ‘what makes it fun for you’?
  • Assess a club/team’s strength in fostering fun – we now have an idea of what fun looks like for junior and youth players
  • Club Directors of Coaching in charge of a team of coaches can educate, support and review their coaching preparation and planning for practices and game day using the sub-groups
  • Club Administrators can use this information as a basis for the development of their club’s overall coaching philosophy – clear statements with actionable behaviours
  • Coaches can discuss the element of fun with their players – the first step in fostering positive and collaborative dynamics among teammates

What is our responsibility as parents, coaches, club committees?

We need to continually ask our players the question – are you enjoying yourself out there?

It has to be fun – and if it is not fun then we need to act and find a way to make it fun. No doubt the players will come up with a range of ways!


Visek, A. J., Achrati, S., M. Mannix, H. M., McDonnell, K., & Harris, B. S., & DiPietro, L. (2015). The fun integration theory: Toward sustaining children and adolescents sport participation. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 12, 424-433.




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