Ages 5 to 10:
Youth basketball is the spirit of the game. Seeing new kids play the game you love and noticing that that used to be you is an unreal feeling. Kids at this age play because their parents most likely signed them up for it. It is full of travels and fouls and ball hogging but that is all the fun. The referee's joke around with the kids while you have the occasional aggressive parent that takes youth basketball just a little too seriously. The players are more than likely all assigned numbers so that each individual player plays the same amount of time no matter their skill or talent. Some may say this is a problem to teach at the younger stage but youth isn't about winning games because it is about seeing if the kids fall in love with the game. As the years of youth go on, kids either quit or the feeder into travel programs to where they can further gain their basketball expertise.
Ages 11 to 15:
Between middle school and the beginning of high school, these are the players that truly love the game. They have played long enough to where they can decide if they want to step foot onto the court or not. At this age range, basketball officially becomes a sport for them. The kids gain interest in the competitiveness of the game and really learn the building blocks in becoming a great player. AAU starts around this age which can be very positive to a player, or could be very detrimental depending on which specific team the players chooses to be on.
Ages: 16 to 18:
Before this age group, kids all receive arguably the same amount of playing time but this is the time where basketball is not only a sport, but starts to become a job. Between having school work, private training lessons, high school practices, and AAU practice, the kids learn skills that don't involve the actual game itself. They learn commitment. They learn what hard work is. They learn you cannot just roll a basketball on to the court and expect to win. They learn time management and balancing priorities. What they also learn is if they are serious about the game of basketball and the level of which they want to play at. This is the age group that separates those who receive scholarships and those who are just playing to play. Players will either stay after school and work on their own game or they go home and hang on the couch and do not try to improve because maybe they just do not care to advance to a higher level of play.
College basketball is no longer a sport and no longer a game. It is a business and with that business the players each have a job by being on the team. They are required to do certain obstacles and drills that are not meant for the typical player... which is why they were offered to play in the first place. Basketball becomes life at this moment. You either work hard enough to make basketball your potential career path or you can use it to build strong mental and physical stability that will enhance your life post-graduation.