Guest post by Tanya Krause of Breakthrough Basketball
Choosing the right program for your child is more important and more difficult now more than it ever has been before. When I was a kid, youth basketball teams were practically unheard of and the few teams around were mostly recreational, just to have some fun.
Today, youth basketball is everywhere and it’s more competitive than ever! As a basketball coach and someone that studies the game daily, I can tell you there are some serious issues with youth sports and the effects they have on kids. You wouldn’t believe how competitive coaches and parents make things for a bunch of young kids.
Unfortunately most basketball coaches just mimic what they see on TV and mimic what college and pro coaches do with ADULTS. This is a terrible injustice for young kids. Most coaches just don’t know any better. There is NO specific training available required for youth coaches. This is a problem that we face today.
That is why the “coach” that works with your child is the most important thing to consider when choosing a basketball program for your child. In fact, this is important for all youth sports.
To help you do what’s best for your child, here are 8 things to look for in a youth basketball program and a coach…
1. The coach should keep practices and games fun! The coach should understand that adults might dwell about a loss for days, while the kids forget about the loss a few seconds after the game and they’re just thinking about where they can get some ice cream. To keep kids motivated coaches need to keep things fun by running an upbeat and fast paced practice. There should be very little standing in lines. They should run plenty of fun drills and games that teach skills at the same time.
2. The coach should focus 99% on player development. This means the coach should spend almost no time teaching set plays or patterned offense. That’s a waste of practice time. Instead teach the kids fundamentals and run a simple motion offense.
3. The coach should play man to man defense. No zone defense and no presses. Young players need a foundation to build from and teaching simple man to man is the way to go. Playing zones and full court presses teach young players terrible habits that are very hard to break when they get older.
4. The league should not allow full or half court presses. A press just takes advantage of underdeveloped kids that aren’t strong enough to beat the trap. This does NOT teach situational basketball. It just teaches bad habits and is a waste of time! They should focus on fundamentals and player development (mentioned above).
5. There should be NO three pointers. Young kids aren’t strong enough to shoot that far away. They end up just “chucking” the ball and develop bad shooting form. This bad form sticks with them for life. If they allow three’s, the coach should not practice or encourage those types of shots. It’s very important for young players to learn proper shooting technique.
6. For young kids, the rims should be lowered. Let’s face it. Young kids simply don’t have the strength to shoot with a full size ball at a 10 foot rim with proper form. I can’t tell you how many kids have ruined their shooting form by shooting at a 10 foot rim at a young age. Kids should be shooting with a small ball at a lower rim (7-9 feet, depending on their age).
7. The coach should understand that kids have not developed spatial awareness and depth perception that adults have. You just can’t expect kids to do certain things in a game. The coach should also understand that a player makes 2 decisions every second on the court. That is 20 decisions in just 10 seconds. Expecting a child to make the right decision on the basketball court all the time is not realistic. And yelling at the child will just hurt their confidence and hinder their long term development.
8. The coach should NOT let losing bother them. The coach should get satisfaction out of teaching the players life lessons and basketball fundamentals that help them in the future. The coach should look forward to seeing the players in 5 or 10 years and enjoy watching these kids succeed when they are older.
The biggest problem is that too many coaches and parents are overly concerned about winning. That really hurts the kids and the game of youth basketball. Sure you play to win, but you coach to develop players for the long haul.
What most parents don’t understand is that if their child doesn’t love the game, they will never be great. Putting them through rigorous training and really tough coaches at a young age will just drive them from the game. Do you think Michael Jordan would have loved the game if his parents pushed him and his coach yelled at him every day in practice?
Hopefully these tips help you find the right program for your child. To help you better understand what to look for, I urge you to check out these tips for youth basketball coaches and parents.
It’s easy to forget what its like to be a kid and end up living through your child’s performance on the court. It’s easy to do but not what’s best for your child. Don’t worry about winning, just put them in a position to learn basketball skills and have fun.
A few additional resources on coaching and parenting in youth basketball:
- Coaching Your Coaches: A Guide to Coaching Fundamental Basketball
- Basketball Manual for Parents & Youth: Teaching Sons and Daughters the Fundamentals of Basketball
- Coaching Youth Basketball with Faith and Fundamentals
- Coaching Youth Basketball: A Baffled Parent's Guide
- BasketCases: How Youth Basketball Parents Can Lower Their Blood Pressure and Keep Their Sanity
- Teaching Kids Basketball with John Wooden (Sharing His Philosophy of Teaching Basketball Starting with the Basics)
- CoachDeck Basketball Drill Cards