Not every single local youth basketball player is ready, just yet, to jump back full tilt in to the popular sport.
The founder of the Northern Lights Basketball Academy (NLBA), Kyle Beers, is fine with that. In fact, he believes that he has just the solution.
Combining forces with the Greater Sudbury Basketball Association, Beers and his staff are offering a six-week three on three basketball league that should help ease many of the kids back to the court.
"I'm really glad that it is happening now because it's a really good re-introduction into competition for a lot of the youth," said Beers, rolling out programming for year four with the NLBA.
"It's a half court, so they don't have to run up and down 94 feet all the time, incurring injuries because not everyone has been active over the last year and a half," he added.
"And the shrinking of the court is beneficial in many other ways. They are all going to get a lot of shots, they are all going to have a chance to put the ball on the deck, as we say. I really love three on three - and actually enjoy two on two even more."
A stickler for fundamentals and skills, Beers is thrilled that in a relatively relaxed coach-free setting taking place weekly at the Sudbury Christian Academy (every Saturday morning), boys and girls will be able to start to make-up for the lost time of the pandemic.
"What we noticed with the kids who did not continue their training during the pandemic, some of the movement patters were off, things like coordination and balance," he noted. "We think this is a safe way to reintroduce them."
With condensed games that are twenty minutes long and a maximum of five players per team, Beers pointed out that perhaps the biggest benefit comes from an environment that is far more relaxed than usual.
"For three on three, it's pretty standard not to have coaches," he said. "We don't want them focused on specific plays, we don't want them focused on someone barking orders. We just want them to play and have fun and work it out amongst themselves."
That said, NLBA and GSBA staff will be on hand, to assist, as needed.
"They will have some experienced guidance there," said Beers. "There will be some guidance on substitutions and stuff like that for the younger ages. And we will be live streaming the events (with fan capacity limited)."
The 24 team loop has been divided into three divisions: tykes (ages 9-12), juniors (13-15) and senior (16-19), with both boys and girls intermingled in the league. Thanks to some generous sponsors, game MVPs will be recognized, along with some prizes for league champions when play wraps up on Halloween weekend.