the dirty secret of youth sports: rote learning limits your player’s potential

Nabil Murad
1 min readMar 6


Are you tired of watching your athletes struggle to execute in games? It’s time for you to rethink the role of rote learning in youth sports

What is Rote Learning?

Rote learning is a memorisation technique where a movement pattern is repeated multiple times until it is committed to memory.

This is commonly seen in youth sports in passing and dribbling drills as a player repeats the pattern over and over again, with no variation under the watchful eye of the coach.


A reliance on rote learning limits your players’ potential. Repetition is an effective teaching strategy, however, rote learning leads to a lack of creativity, adaptability, and decision-making skills in young players.

Constraints & Small-Sided Games

You can develop your players’ adaptability by combining rote learning with other teaching strategies. By using constraints in practice activities, you can allow your players to get repetitions without repetitions.

Asking questions also engages players mentally and helps them develop a deeper understanding of game principles. By allowing your players to explore more, you can help them be more successful on the court.

Moving on from Rote Learning

Rote learning may be useful in class to learn numbers and multiplication tables, however, using it as a sole teaching strategy in sports can hold back young athletes. Instead, use a variety of teaching strategies to help your athletes be more successful over the long term.



Nabil Murad

Full time professional youth basketball with an avid interest in meta-learning. Passionate about youth development, behavioural psychology and storytelling