WELCOME TO 3 ON 3 BASKETBALL | Canada Basketball



The Winnipeg Minor Basketball Association with the support of Basketball Manitoba announced today that it will be piloting a new basketball game structure for the 8 Year Old Boys Division in the spring of 2012.  All games at this level will now be played in a '3 on 3 half court' setting, different from the traditional 5 on 5 full court game.  The 3 on 3 model encourages a more age appropriate fundamental skill development of players based on Long Term Athlete Development concepts.  Basketball's international governing body (Description: http://www.basketballmanitoba.ca/mambots/content/glossarbot/info.gifFIBA) and Canada Basketball are recommending that all basketball played at the age 9 and under level use the 3 on 3 half court model.  This new modification will be expanded through the Description: http://www.basketballmanitoba.ca/mambots/content/glossarbot/info.gifWMBA to ages 9 and under over the coming year.  So why 3 on 3?  


Welcome to 3 on 3 Basketball 

It is an exciting time for sport in Canada from the grassroots community centre programs to the national elite programs. Why? Because sport groups have recognized that our children aren’t getting from sport what they need to be active and engaged in sport for life. And what children need begins with quality sport programs from an early age. The Winnipeg Minor Basketball Association and Basketball Manitoba are trying to address this by ensuring children have the right building blocks to enjoy sport and physical activity! 

The WMBA with the support of Basketball Manitoba, is piloting a new basketball game structure for the 8 Year Old Boys Division in the spring of 2012. Basketball's international governing body (FIBA) and Canada Basketball are recommending that all basketball played at the age 9 and under level use the 3 on 3 half court model.  As parents you can expect to see some changes. In general, here are three areas where you can expect changes and here is why. 

Why is this good for our children? 

Focus on Physical Literacy 

Children need to have agility, balance, coordination, running, jumping, catching and throwing skills in order to have an enjoyable experience. Therefore, you will see coaches and programs emphasizing these things in their practices. This is much like in school where a child starts with phonics and very simple works before they are asked to read a chapter book. And yes, it takes practice and doing that will help a child become competent and confident. Imagine asking a child to read a chapter book before they can read simple words. They would find it frustrating. Basketball is a tremendous team sport which incorporates many key developmental skills including running, agility, balance, coordination, running, jumping, catching and throwing skills. We are doing the same thing in these quality sport programs. By establishing the fundamental movement and motor skills a child is setting a good foundation for being active for life! 

Kids Don’t Play Like Adults

We can’t expect a young child to play the adult game. They are smaller, haven’t learned the skills and don’t necessarily understand the game. Therefore, facilities, equipment, games, and practices to accommodate the developmental level of the child are needed. These modifications are to help the child progress in a positive way, learn the skills and develop confidence. 

Game Structure 

In order for the child to develop the skills, they need to touch the ball many times. Therefore, you are likely to see smaller playing surfaces and fewer players on the court. This is to give each child the opportunity to touch, catch, shoot or Pass the ball as many times during a game. This will definitely improve their skills!

So WHY 3 on 3?

3 on 3
5 on 5

3 on 3 basketball results in...


Players Playing in One Gym


12 total players on the floor


10 total players on the floor


More time playing and less time sitting. A total of 20% more playing time for everyone!

Basketballs Used

2 basketballs on the court

1 basketball on the court

Twice as many touches of the ball for the team which results in more skill development and enjoyment..

Players per Game
3 vs 3 (6 total)
5 vs 5 (10 total)

More spacing for players and less congestion on the floor leading to improved skills in shooting, passing and dribbling.

Court Size
Half Court
(1 hoop)
Full Court
(2 hoops)

Every Possession starts in a scoring position at the top circle of the key. This cuts out the time in the middle of the court providing more real playing opportunities. It slows down and simplifies the game which allows for enhanced learning! 


Coaching 3 players in the half court in close proximity

Coaching 5 players in a full court setting,

Creates more teaching opportunities between coach and player.


 All games will be played using the current FIBA (International) basketball rules with the following modifications...

1.       TEAM COMPOSITION. Teams will be formed normally at the community club ranging is size from 8-10 players each. When a combined total of 12 or more players are in the gym for a game, 2 half court games will be played. When 6 to 11 players are present in the gym, one Description: http://www.basketballmanitoba.ca/mambots/content/glossarbot/info.gifBasket in a half court setting will be used for the game. At halftime, the split 'visiting' teams (team listed second on the schedule) will Description: http://www.basketballmanitoba.ca/mambots/content/glossarbot/info.gifSwitch courts to ensure players have an opportunity to play against different players in the second half. Players on the split 'home' team will remain on the same half court throughout the entire game.

2.       GAME PLAY. All games are played 3 on 3 in a half court setting on one basket. All play will begin with the ball at the top of the 'key' which must be 'checked' by the Defense given to the person defending the ball for a moment) and passed in to begin play. All rebounds or changes in possessions must be 'cleared' with the ball being taken back to the top of the key and must be passed in to a teammate. When ball is 'checked' (given to the defender at the top of the key), the other 4 players on the 'wings' will tag hands with each other to ensure they are in good defensive possession. Description: http://www.basketballmanitoba.ca/mambots/content/glossarbot/info.gifSubstitute players not playing can be used on the side and end lines around the half court as extra 'catchers' to help players on the floor pass the ball around if needed to keep the game flowing.

3.       SCORES. No scores or standings will be kept.

4.       EQUIPMENT. A 'size 5' (27.5) basketball and 9 foot high baskets will be used.

5.       GAME TIME. Games will be played with 2 x 25 minute running time halves with a 5 minute halftime and regular substitutions being made at the 5 minute mark throughout the game. There will be no timeouts allowed in games to maximize the time played on the court.

6.       PLAYING TIME. All players are to receive equal court time and will be regularly substituted every 5 minutes.

7.       VIOLATIONS. All fouls, violations (travelling, Description: http://www.basketballmanitoba.ca/mambots/content/glossarbot/info.gifDouble Dribble, 3 in the key, etc.) or out of bounds calls will result in the ball being given to the opposing team at the top of the key. No free throws will be taken at any time.

8.       DEFENSE. Teams are to play 'man to man' defense only (no zone defenses allowed)

9.       REFEREES. One referee will be assigned to each half court and be situated under the basket on the baseline. In situations where less than 12 players in the gym, one half court will be used in the gym with 2 referees.

Team Sport is Good for our Kids – We Need to Keep Them in the Game!

We continue to read about the alarming rate of obesity and inactivity in our children as well as the high drop out rate in sport activities. Sport is important not only for the physical benefits but for what it can do for children as they develop.

By developing good skills, children will have confidence and enjoy the sport. This should lead to continued participation in a positive environment with their peers. Children who participate in regular physical activity have reduced risks of many adult health problems, including diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. This is why one of the biggest benefits of team sports is that they provide children with the opportunity to be physically active! 

Benefits of Team Sport


        Teamwork: social skills, cooperation, a sense of community

        Develops physical literacy and fitness

        Teach children how to cope with competition in a healthy way

        Understanding how to a play a game now to be active for life

        Develops communication and leadership skills

        Solve problems, develop patience and persistence, and become self-disciplined

        Show appreciation and respect to others 

More information can be found at... www.activeforlife.ca