The Berkeley Heights PAL offers in-town recreation and travel basketball programs for both boys and girls during the winter season.
Berkeley Heights PAL basketball is meant to provide an introduction to the sport of basketball through its inclusive in-town recreation and early grade travel basketball programs through more competitive travel leagues and tournaments as they progress through their 8th grade season. The aim of the PAL is to teach the rules of the game, instructruction on the fundamentals, and develop camaraderie with teammates and coaches during their time with the in-town recreation program and early travel grade years. It’s through these earlier years and experiences where it’s important that the boys and girls have a positive experience with the hope that it increases their desire and interest to continue to develop and play the game during their later travel grade years and beyond at Columbia Middle School and Governor Livingston High School. As equally as important to learning the game and having fun at the same time, the boys and girls need to develop respect and sportsmanship towards themselves, their opponents and the referees as well as developing a sense of community and pride for the town they represent.
For any additional questions, contact the Basketball Commissioner, Rob Schmidt at
In-Town Recreation Program
The objective of the in-town recreation program is to introduce the game of basketball in an organized manner which will foster an environment of instruction and teamwork and promote safety and sportsmanship. The program runs every winter from early December through the end of February or early March. There is typically one game a week on Saturday mornings, which will consist of a short practice and a 40-minute game. Given the lack of gym space and availability, the in-town recreation program cannot guarantee practices. Parent volunteers will serve as the coaches.
Girls, in the 3rd grade through 5th grade and boys, in the 3rd grade through 8th grade, and all ability levels are eligible to play. Furthermore, all girls participating on a 4th and 5th grade travel team and all boys participating on a 4th and 8th grade travel team are required to play in the in-town recreation program to ensure there is a sufficient number of boys and girls for a successful in-town program.
There are no tryouts to participate in the recreation program. All boys and girls who register will be placed on a team. The goal is to place boys and girls playing on a travel team equally amongst the number of teams in the respective grade level recreation program. Non-travel team boys and girls will be assigned a team based on input from the Berkeley Heights Commissioner and volunteer coaches with the goal to make the teams as fair and balanced as possible. At times, it may be necessary to redistribute boys and girls to ensure the teams and games are as competitive as possible.
The objective of the travel program is designed for those boys and girls who have the desire and willingness to practice, learn, and compete at a higher level against boys and girls of similar ages from other towns in New Jersey while fostering an environment of instruction and teamwork and promoting safety and sportsmanship similar to that of the in-town recreation program. While the travel program is more competitive than the in-town recreation program, the travel program is intended to become more competitive as the boys and girls progress from 4th grade through 8th grade. Being said, a higher level of commitment and cooperation is required from both the kids and their parents. The league in which we participate runs every winter from late November through early March, with optional practices starting in October.
Eligibility and Tryouts
There will be travel teams for both boys and girls in the 4th grade through 8th grade which will comprise of regular season league play and playoffs. Boys and girls are not allowed to play up in age/grade unless there is no team in their age/grade level. In no event will a boy or girl play down in age/grade.
Tryouts are utilized to determine all grade level teams based on the number of boys and girls who register. Tryouts will be held two nights per grade. Tryouts will be conducted by independent evaluators. Current coaches and parents will not be able to observe the tryouts. Independent evaluators may elect to reach out to the Berkeley Heights Commissioners to seek input, if necessary. While the travel program is best suited for those interested in a higher level of competition and not every tryout participant is guaranteed to make a team, the more boys and girls that tryout the more teams can be made at various skill levels.
Parent volunteers will serve as the coaches. Ideally there will be a head coach and two assistant coaches, a bench coach as well as a scorekeeper. In addition, travel teams will need a volunteer to maintain the electronic scoreboard for all home games.
Teams will be entered into a league and tournaments based on the team’s overall skill set and abilities. The boys and girls will receive playing time based on the discretion of the head coach and not all boys and girls will receive equal playing time. However, certain league rules stipulate the amount of playing time and substitution rules which generally require equal playing time during the first half of a game in the earlier grades such as 4th and 5th grade. In addition, coaches may rotate the boys and girls to gain exposure and experience with different positions. Generally, there are multiple league games per week which can either be during the week or on the weekend. The travel program also provides each team with the opportunity to play in one tournament. Given the higher commitment and competitiveness required for the travel program, gym space will be available weekly for coach led practice. Generally speaking, kids and parents should expect at least 1-2 practices and 1-2 games per week.
All girls grades 4th and 5th and boys grades 4th and 8th participating on a travel team are required to play in the In-town recreation league and attend 75 percent of the games or you cannot take a spot on a travel team. There will be no exceptions to this rule.