Attention Youth Basketball Parents and Coaches,

It isn’t about you or me.  It’s about the kids. If we want to improve youth basketball, that’s the first problem that we have to solve.  The best thing I can do about that is live what I’m saying with every person we work with.  We see too many parents and coaches are trying to live their dreams through the kids.  They are trying to use the kids to get wherever they think they want to go.

Most kids will try to do whatever you ask. They are disappointed when you are disappointed in them.  Yet we treat them like pros, like it’s their full-time job to play basketball. We act like they have to be perfect all the time. Shouldn’t they love to work hard all the time? Shouldn’t they love the game as much as we do? That’s a very dangerous statement. We are holding them to a standard that most of us don’t even hold ourselves to. Let’s be real. Who always works hard at their job? How many of us put the hours into the game that we are expecting out of our players?

Most coaches are part-time or volunteers. There are other things from jobs to families or whatever that demand more time and energy. It keeps them from being the best for the players they work with. We understand that we are unique.  There aren’t many people who have done everything we’ve done in this industry.  But it also means that if you don’t know, you need to seek help.  Otherwise, the ones who suffer are the players that we’re supposed to be helping.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t practice hard, play hard, and compete hard. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have standards.  But as coaches, we can’t be fans or cheerleaders first . We have to be teachers and leaders.

As a fan, I can get mad when my team turns it over or misses a layup.  I can yell and scream when my team doesn’t play good defense.  Fan is short for fanatic.  As a coach especially at the youth level, don’t be a fan. We are teachers.  We are responsible for helping our players and teams get better, not yell at them for making mistakes when they probably know they messed up anyway.

I know coaching is probably not a full-time job for most people.  I know this probably isn’t your career. I know you haven’t spent over half your life consuming 12-16 hours a day every day with as much basketball experience and information as you can. I know you’re probably doing the best you can. I’m asking you to do it better.

What are you teaching?
  1. Nothing? We see that a lot.  This is better than teaching something poorly, but it’s still not good.
  2. Skills and Concepts? Ok great, but now which ones, and how and why? We’ll talk about that in a minute.
  3. Plays? How many? Do they fit your team and your players’ skillsets?  Or did you steal it from an NBA team and your kids aren’t that skilled or athletic.
  4. Intangibles? For us, getting players to understand what it means to play hard and play with each other is going to translate a lot more than anything else. Are you trying to teach other things besides just the game?
Why are you teaching what you’re teaching?
  1. Nothing. Because you don’t know how?  Because you don’t have time? You always have time to teach something.  We would love to help you figure out how to maximize the time you have to teach the most you can.
  2. Skills? Are they part of what you’re trying to accomplish as a team? Will they help your players compete at the next level?
  3. Plays? KISS. It’s easier for you to hold them accountable and it’s easier for them to execute and play. This is not football.
  4. Intangibles? Why did you choose those things?  Why are they important to you? Is it just words or is it a standard that you hold yourself accountable to just as much as you do your team?
How are you teaching what you’re teaching?
  1. Nothing. Well, it’s just time to move on, but this happens way too often.
  2. Skills? Thanks for the effort. For us, this is key, but please don’t mess players up. I’m sure it’s all good intentions, but make sure you know the why to your methods. Using the reason, “that’s how I was taught” isn’t a good reason. It doesn’t mean it’s wrong, but it doesn’t mean it’s right either. The game changes, are you keeping up?
  3. Plays? Well, this part really worries me. What happens when “the play” breaks down? Because it will for one reason or another. Are you teaching your players how to play more than you are teaching them plays? If you have limited time, this would be the first thing to cut out in my opinion.
  4. Intangibles? Does this affect playing time?  Do you hold everyone accountable for these things?  Are they just words you throw around?

Please know what you’re teaching and why you’re teaching it. Then take a close look at how you’re teaching it.

I’m not saying you can’t be passionate or demanding. I’m not saying you can’t be competitive or intense. Just be a teacher first.

We have been doing this for a really long time and not just as a hobby.  I wish I could count the hours we’ve spent, reading, watching, talking, and doing this thing called teaching basketball.  I wish I knew how many players of all ages and levels that we’ve worked with.

We can help you with your situation.  Just reach out and ask for it.

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