HOW GOOD DO I HAVE TO BE?
We are an all ability community basketball club open to all. We really mean that. We have over 17 nationalities, women and men, beginners to retired pros. There are no trials. No fixed quads. All our welcome. We do grade sessions from community ( open to all ) and league level. The players choose.
CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TRADITIONAL BASKETBALL AND COMMUNITY BASKETBALL?
Traditional basketball is about finding the most able amongst us. Community basketball is about players of all ability sharing a moment of connection.
This is a good way to explain it... “A dwarf on top of a giant can see farther than the giant”. Community basketball is about experiencing the joy of connecting to be more. A beginner can do one thing LeBron James can’t do. The beginner can occupy space. LeBron can’t be in 2 places at once. In community basketball, LeBron's job is to adapt so that he can connect to a beginner in a way that enables them both to enjoy a connection.
A high ability player on a community court can score at will. But instead they focus on being the glue that knits the team together. They trigger movement. Be a safe pair of hands with the ball. Be the first to help fellow players who are not sure what to do, not by telling them what to do, but by adapting their own choices. As well as showing off their own abilities. We all love to see a great player do things we can’t do. It’s a question of balance.
CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TRADITIONAL COACH AND A COMMUNITY COACH?
A traditional coach tends to mould their players to avoid mistakes as they pursue perfection. A community coach encourages players to try new things without knowing if they will work or not. To use mistakes to unfold a way to adapt what they do to connect to other players, no matter what their ability. You can’t plan these connections. It’s all in the moment. And when it happens, it gives players a buzz of connecting. The score doesn’t matter. Who wins doesn’t matter. It’s for the joy of the connection.
CAN A GOOD PLAYER BECOME A GREAT PLAYER BY DOING BOTH ABILITY AND COMMUNITY BASKETBALL?
Yes, I think so. A player with high ability levels can develop the ability to adapt to connect to find ways to win when their ability is not enough. Connection + ability = a better player than ability only.
DO YOU HAVE SET SQUADS AND HOW ARE PLAYERS SELECTED FOR GAMES?
We don't have set squads. There is no pressure to play in competitive games without keeping the score. Its fine to play for fun, exercise, and simple joy of getting better. We try to ensure that training has a variety of players, and enough to play full court games. This gives players more opportunity to try new things. Coaches use the diverse game situations to suggest ways for each player to adapt what they do to unfold a better way of playing. They keep an eye out for players who always play the same way, or who are overly relying on physicality to win, and suggest new ways they can play.
If you are a more experienced player, it can feel like a scrimmage until a coach gives you individual attention to lift your mental agility to try new things, to be less predictable and create choices for yourself and others. Its more of mindset than technical.
Players who want to play in our festivals can enter as their own teams or as individuals and we create the teams.
We are building partnerships with local clubs for those players who want to play in serious leagues.
CAN PLAYERS FROM OTHER CLUBS JOIN IN YOUR SESSIONS?
Yep. We don’t enter teams in the national league or the local men’s league. We are happy to help players from other clubs add the ability to adapt to connect to their ability to play basketball. All players are welcome to compete in our charity festivals. Not forgetting our festival are for the joy of connection.
WHERE ARE YOUR SESSIONS?
Current sessions are...
Saturday - 7pm to 8.45pm - All abilities - Westminster Lodge - (£7.50 pay reception)
Sunday - 2pm to 4pm - League level teenagers - St Albans School - (£5 pay coach. Don't let a lack of money stop you coming.)
Sunday - 5pm to 6pm - All abilities Teenager - Westminster Lodge - (£5 pay reception)
Wednesday - 5pm to 6pm - Spectrum basketball - Westminster Lodge - (£5 pay reception)
Thursday - 4pm to 5pm - All abilities under 11's - Westminster Lodge - (pay termly)
Thursday - 5pm to 6pm - All abilities under 14's - Westminster Lodge - (pay termly)
Thursday - 8.30pm to 10pm - League level players - St Albans School - (£7.50 pay coach. £5 if student. Don't let a lack of money stop you coming.)
We are hoping to open up a women only session on Saturday afternoons.
Westminster Lodge, Holywell Hill, St Albans AL1 2DL, 01727 736080
St Albans School, Abbey Mill Ln, St Albans AL3 4HB
I AM A PARENT, MY CHILD WILL NEVER PLAY IN THE NBA, WHY SHOULD I LET BASKETBALL DISTRACT THEM FROM THEIR SCHOOL WORK?
This is how Jon Thorne answers this question. Jon is coach with us as the founder of LifeSkills21.club
"Many of us parents tend to assume that high academic grades will equate to good jobs.
In the next 20 years the "Economist" predicts that 50% of todays jobs will be automated.
If we look into the robot driven 21st century, it is quite clear that this link between academic grades and jobs is less true for our children. Getting high grades in standardised academic courses requires our children to developed fixed mindsets to avoid mistakes as they pursue the perfect answers to get high grades. What else can it be? Robots are good at avoiding mistakes as they pursue perfection. For me, if us parents solely focus on our children getting high grades our children will end up competing with robots to get jobs robots will be better at. Our children will need to develop the soft skills of collaboration, imagination, mental agility to do the non-standard jobs robots will struggle to do".
WHAT SOFT SKILLS WILL PLAYERS LEARN?
Robots are good at avoiding mistakes as they pursue perfection. Robots will struggle to do the non-standard jobs that require imagination and mental agility to involve others as they find ways forward when none are visible.
We feel that when a good employer looks for young people to do non-standard jobs, their robots struggle to do, they will look for evidence that a young person tries new things without knowing what will happen. Finds new ways forward when none are clear. And when things were not going their way, they adapt to find a balance that to varying degrees works for everyone involved.
Employers will look for young people who...
1. Have the common sense to see that moulding themselves to perfectly follow a fixed process, fixed rules, fixed standards, is not going to help them adapt to find balanced ways forward, especially when they are unsure what to do.
2. Take the initiative, take the first step, knowing they will use their mistakes, their limitations to unfold a better version of themselves more able to create, discover, invent, dream, of new ways forward, when none are clear. To see their performance as the speed at which they unfold themselves, while seeing that just as important as performing and winning is us all remaining healthy in mind as well as body.
3. Have the life skills to work it out as they go without blaming, building trust by giving others a say, that they are heard, that they are part of our "figuring it all out" process to the point where others are prepared to try new things, knowing that they will step in if someone is about to do something that carries a risk of causing harm to themselves or others. Able to see different ways to adapt choices and habits so that shared situations work to varying degrees for everyone involved.
These are the skills our members will develop. And when they have them they apply to join LifeSkills21.club and be found by employers.
ARE PLAYERS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS WELCOME?
Yes. Very. Our lack of fixed ways means players are free from having to avoid mistakes. Players confidence tends to lift when they start to see they can unfold a better version of themselves.
We have lost count of the number of nervous special needs children turning up, chatting to us as we explain they are free to do what they want with the basketball, then running off with a smile of their face, then turn round and see a parent crying. Never have they seen their child feel so at home, so quickly.
We also do basketball as a form of therapy. We go to players who lack the confidence to come out of their house and play in the back garden. We do 121 sessions in a park or on half a court somewhere.
HOW DO I JOIN AND HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
Just pick a session and turn up. You join by playing. Most sessions are pay as you go. As are the games. The sessions cost range from £7.50, to nothing depending on how much money you have. Competitions vary. The one exception is the Thursday afternoon sessions for under 11's and under 14's. Here you pay Westminster Lodge termly.