Im on a mission to get more people, especially kids, playing basketball in the UK. I plan to do this by opening unique basketball centres - starting with a pilot site in High Wycombe..
Basketball is the fastest growing sport in the world. It is one of the top 3 most popular team sports globally. However, in the UK, basketball participation has been on the decline for both adults and children for years.
Well you could point your finger at a lack of structure, poor government support and funding and little to no national media exposure,
But all of these come down to the root of the problem:
A lack of opportunity to play basketball in the UK. Particularly for kids under the age of 12.
Coach Nick Nurse (of the current NBA champions Toronto Raptors), who spent a decade coaching in the British Basketball League, puts it like this:
“There’s just not enough places to play. There’s not enough infrastructure in the coaching through the school systems and it’s just never gotten in place, stayed in place, been put in place. Take your pick.”
My solution - Dedicated basketball centres
In order to get more people in the UK playing basketball and create a basketball community, I want to open a group of dedicated basketball centres.
I will create somewhere for anyone who loves basketball to be able to play and become part of a basketball community.
The centres will have a strong focus on introducing more kids to the sport from a younger age. It will also provide lots of opportunity for people of all ages to play more basketball and to increase future participation across all age groups.
The 'Pilot' site
I plan for the first centre to open in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, an area I know very well as I have lived and played basketball in this area for over 25 years.
The pilot centre will be approximately 3,000 sq ft and compromise of a half court 3 on 3 size basketball court with height adjustable hoops (1 main hoop and 2 portable ones for coaching sessions).
It will also have a lounge area for parents and members to relax with a TV, refreshments, wifi and comfortable seating.
The centre will have a unique ‘basketball’ style, as part of the centre’s distinctive brand. I want to create an extraordinary experience for everyone who visits.
I am working with a local property agent who has identified a number of potential sites that meet our requirement.
Here are a few conceptual images to give you an idea of the pilot centre and court size...
I started Hoop Heroes with a sunday morning session for under 12's in Bucks, growing it to 40 paying monthly members at the time of Lockdown. Although we have had to pause the sessions during the Covid-19 pandemic, we were able to return to court in October 2020. I would like to grow the membership and expand the sessions to different age groups before we open the pilot centre in 2021.
What our members say
Why 1/2 Court Basketball?
One of the key focuses of the basketball centres will be the 1/2 court 3 x 3 version of the game.
There are many benefits to the 3 on 3 version of the game, particularly for younger players.
Here are some of the benefits from a recent study:
• Players in 3 on 3 were actually 3 x more likely to touch the ball than in 5 on 5. More touches of the ball means more opportunities to make decisions and develop game skills.
• Players in 3 on 3 took 4 x as many shots as they did in 5 on 5. Possessions were shorter because time wasn’t wasted dribbling the ball up between the top of the keys. It was easier to get a good shot because of the open space created by fewer players on the court. There is nothing better than getting up more game shots to improve a player’s ability to finish during an actual game.
• Players in 3 on 3 threw 6 x as many passes as they did in 5 on 5. Possessions after a score had to start with a pass. There was more screening and cutting action with the floor less congested. We think there was a natural tendency to pass more because the players knew they would be getting the ball back. Often in 5 on 5 players who hadn’t touched the ball in a while felt compelled to shoot fearing the ball might never come back to them.
• There was clearly less congestion and better spacing. The reduced number of players on the court allowed more room for driving to the basket, team play, and making split second in-game decisions that are critical to a young player’s development.
• The players had fun. This is more anecdotal than statistical, but the kids we talked to about the 3 on 3 league loved it. You get the ball more, get to shoot more, and have the chance to develop your skills. The parents we talked to felt much the same way. Every parent likes to see their child get plenty of opportunities to be involved in the action and 3 on 3 was clearly a success on that front.
Overall players get more touches, more shots, more opportunities to make in-game decisions on both offense and defense.
All in all, I believe the 3 on 3 version of the game is the perfect vehicle to get more kids playing basketball from a younger age, its great for adults or all ages andabilities and wheelchair basketball players too!
3 on 3 Basketball in the Olympics and Commonwealth Games
Did you know that the 3 on 3 version of the game is going to be included for the first time in the forthcoming commonwealth games in Birmingham 2022 and the Tokyo Olympics 2021, giving it more exposure too - great timing!!
Below are some videos showing more about the 3x3 version of the game:
Our revenue will come from recurring membership payments. After an initial trial session, players will be given the opportunity to enroll as a member.
There will be 4 different membership categories for Kids, Youth and Adult players plus a social membership category too. There will be a range of different session types available depending on the membership.
During school holidays we would look to run basketball holiday camps for kids during the day as well, probably 1 week for each age group, made available to our members for an additional cost.
Sessions will have a maximum capacity of about 10-12 spaces. Below is an example of how the timetable could look when membership is full. We would start with a reduced timetable and build towards this as membership grows.
I plan to use the centre to create a complete online coaching program for different age groups to be included in the membership which would also available to the wider basketball community. There could even be a payment option for this to also include spreading the cost of an age appropriate hoop and ball as part of the cost so kids can have the equipment they need at home and spread the cost over the length of the coaching program.
All sessions will be bookable. As well as the kids coaching sessions split by age group, there will be lots of open court sessions where members can book to come and play 3 on 3 or just have a shootaround. There will be parent/child shootaround sessions too, plus wheelchair basketball sessions, walking basketball sessions and basketball specific fitness sessions too.
Who is Hoop Heroes for?
We will focus on 3 main groups of people to increase participation and grow our membership (within reasonable drive time of each centre):
1. Kids under the age of 12 who want to try basketball.
2. Active basketball players of all ages male and female, including able bodied players, restricted mobility players and wheelchair users.
3. People of all ability levels who previously played basketball and want to play again!
We will use a number of different ways to reach these people, online and offline through targeted social media campaigns, local activity, partnerships with schools and local basketball teams.
Basketball for all
We will offer basketball sessions for everyone regardless of age, gender, ability and our timetable will include sessions such as 'walking basketball' for the over 60's and people who are less mobile perhaps due to injury and wheelchair basketball sessions as well.
After conversations with local wheelchair basketball coaches and players and even input from advice and suggestions from the GB national men's coach, I want wheelchair basketball to be a big part of our centre. With open court, coaching and 3 on 3 WCBB sessions on the timetable alongside the able bodied basketball sessions. This area is new to me and I plan to meet with established WCBB club in Aylesbury when they can return to court later this year to work out all the considerations our plan needs to take into account to provide a suitable location for WCBB. This will include having wheelchairs on site for beginners to be able to play the game and of course accessibility for wheelchair use in all areas of the centre.
I plan to raise a total of £75,000 to open the pilot site in High Wycombe.
The first stage of this is our crowdfunding campaign which we aim to raise at least £10,000 to allow us to secure our pilot site.
The rest of the funding will come from private equity investment through the EIS scheme, which we have had good interest for initially.
I am also applying for a number of grants to help with cost of equipment, coach development and facilities through Basketball England and other local funding opportunities.
For the pilot site initially I want to try and keep staffing costs as low as possible while we build up the membership, so the sessions will be run by myself and one or two volunteer coaches.
As the membership (and therefore number of sessions) grows over the first 6-12 months I will look to bring on more coaches to help run the centre. We would look to develop the right person for this position and can get funding for them to do basketball coaching qualifications and all other pre-requisites. Coaching could be a great opportunity for one of our youth players
As we are in a position to expand to a bigger site with full court and then look to expand to other locations, I will look to bring on an operations manager, and promote one coach at the initial site to be the head coach/centre manager.
I plan to open the pilot centre in 2021 so i continue to monitor the Guidance from Basketball England's 'Return to play' plan and will ensure that the centre is custom designed to adhere to all necessary processes to make it the safest place you can play basketball. That will include flow, Anti-viral cleaning stations, restrictions on number of players at any time through booking system, air flow and ventilation, equipment and more. Our goal will be to exceed the requirements of Basketball England to ensure our players and parents are safe. We resumed our weekly sessions in October at our current venue, the video below shows some of the measures we have taken to return to court.