Gamification: The Most Enjoyable Form of Basketball Motivation

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For Michael Jordan, his gamification approach was to keep taking and making shots, one after another. He fell in love with each shot as much as he did with the game of basketball and winning at the highest levels.

To increase a kid’s love for the game of basketball, make the game…a game. Make each individual areas such as shooting, passing, and dribbling a game for each player so that they are challenged continually, not by the outcomes of each game, not by the results of each practice/workout, and not by their individual stats.

Gamification is a marketing term used to encourage internet users/customers to take action. Effective gamification strategies offer a clear call-to-action, they offer a clear set of goals, and a clear set of rewards for following through.

Unlike marketing gamification, basketball gamification should avoid extrinsic rewards like cash and prizes. Create plans that offer intrinsic satisfaction to kids, like the satisfaction us adults get when we check off items on our task list.

Gamify shooting, by not defining a fixed set of goals, but by teaching kids how to set the goals themselves, how to achieve them and how to repeat with something a little harder. Start so simple that even the kid him or herself can set, assess and raise the goals themselves as you continue to guide them. Example:

1) Take 50 shots every day this week in the driveway. If you can and want to take more, go for it.

2) At the end of the week, celebrate for finishing the task. Acknowledge any extra effort.

3) Repeat. Next week, take 60 shots a day.

This continuous loop and feedback cycle doesn’t require much effort and management from the coach or parents. If the kid has the equipment, the chance to put the shots up and understands the goals, he or she will inevitably do it autonomously, instilling a continuous improvement, aka growth, mindset. It’ll get them in the habit of measuring their efforts. The habit of setting SMART goals. The habit of self-challenge and the habit of appreciating intrinsic rewards.