Despite the differences at various levels of basketball--professional, college, high school, grad school--there are fundamentals which must be taught at every level. The players must learn to know the score, the number of fouls, and the skill level of the opponent. They should know if the opponent is right or left-handed or whether he or she prefers to drive to the basket or shoot long. Other useful lessons include recognizing different types of defense, knowing if another player is hot or cold, maintaining eye contact, passing effectively, receiving a pass effectively, mastering shooting skills (lay-ups and rebounds), blocking out, concentrating, anticipating where the ball will bounce on a missed shot, dribbling, how to guard a man who has the ball and one who does not have the ball, when to shoot or not, stealing the ball, keeping your hands up on defense, how to move on defense, how to execute a full-court press, double-teaming, the roles and responsibilities of each position, and much more (Shurtleff 1).
Obviously, all of these aspects of the game cannot and should not be taught to young children who are merely playing to have fun, learn teamwork, and develop coordination and competitive spirit. The higher the level, the more of these aspects must be taught, and at the college and professional levels a good player must know all of these aspects and more.
At the same time, because of the emphasis on sports today, even youngsters are being exposed to subtle aspects of the game. For example, one coach of a 12-13 age league said, "Instead of the boring, yet stable 212 zone, we are going to try a 131 trap zone." She asked for guidance and received this advice:
If you want to become aggressive, apply full court pressure using a 1211 combined with mantoman defense instead of your idea of a 131. Be careful using a 131, the role of the man up top requires foot speed and the heart of a lion. . . . As far as...