The USA Basketball Player Development Curriculum has been established to guide players, and the people that coach them, through a level-appropriate system of basketball development. Using scientific guiding principles developed by coach educators Istvan Balyi and Richard Way, and found in their book Long-Term Athlete Development (2013), USA Basketball has designed a practical, functional and sequential development model to properly impart the game to a player.
The Player Development Curriculum consists of four levels of development: Introductory, Foundational, Advanced and Performance. Each level takes the player through progressive development techniques based on their mastery of basketball and movement skills as opposed to their age, grade in school or physical attributes. This mastery of skills approach allows the player to develop physical literacy, learn basketball vocabulary and acquire the movement confidence needed to optimize their basketball potential.
As explained in the sections that follow, the Player Development Curriculum incorporates seven stages of long-term athlete development – Active Start, Fundamentals, Learning to Train, Training to Train, Training to Compete, Training to Win and Basketball for Life. Although the curriculum removes age from the skill learning process, the long-term model provides age recommendations to demonstrate scientifically-proven learning capabilities. USA Basketball incorporated these age recommendations in creating the curriculum levels to show how the levels translate to real learning environments.
Through the long-term athlete development model, the Player Development Curriculum addresses the topic of proper practice/training-to-competition ratios. USA Basketball has defined competition as the act of competing against another team, or imparting team strategies to prepare to compete against another team. Practice or training is defined as all activity related to a player’s individual skill development.