What is really killing youth basketball development…
Everyone says AAU is killing the development of basketball players across the country. The games, the travel and recruiting. While some of that definitely has a part of it—here is the real reason.
Instant gratification is killing youth basketball development.
Contrary to what seems to be popular belief by 96.3% of all 3rd – 8th grade coaches winning your Saturday tournament is not the most important thing. I always tell coaches and parents this, “Your kids aren’t going to remember winning the 1 day tournament in 6th grade. They’re going to remember playing for a conference championship in front of thousands of fans wearing your school colors. By emphasizing winning you are setting them up for failure.” It’s not winning that matters — it’s competing and as cliché’ as it sounds — trying your best. The coach’s job is to get kids out of their comfort zone, to push past levels of fear in order for them to understand what their best is.
A couple things really stand out when I think of this
Trapping zone defenses.
I see this all the time and it drives me crazy. 4th grade team traps at half court or picks up full court in the ever so popular diamond press where the first pass is trapped in the corner. When you first look at it you probably think that the team who can’t pass or handle the ball is the one with the problems. In hindsight isn’t it the team that never learns how to play man-to-man principles or help side defense? The team and players that learn to gamble on every defensive possessions?
At this age there is such a disparity in the physical maturation of players. This makes it difficult for many of them to throw the length, accuracy and speed of a pass to beat a trapping zone or press. At this level there is hardly anything they can do about it — making a 4th grade team lift weights isn’t going to help them throw crisp 20 foot passes.
Sets and continuity offenses
Sets are like trying to win the lottery each game. Player development is an investment and I’m sorry to say this, but it is going to be hard work. You are going to have to get up early, sweat, stay after practice and be in the weight room—yes coaches I am talking to you. Because the bottom line is that there are no absolutes in basketball. What do your players revert to in times or pressure or when a set fails? Their fundamentals. This is not true only in basketball, but in life. In times of pressure you revert to who you truly are as a person. Pressure basketball doesn’t only reveal your character it reveals your fundamentals. Ironically your character is the fundamentals of who you are. Teach your players to play the game not run 17 different plays.
Once players get to high school I don’t have a problem with their coaches running sets or some sort of continuity. There is a boy’s coach here in Milwaukee, Mark Adams, at Brookfield Central that has run the flex for years. I HATE the flex, but you know what? I enjoy watching his teams play because he teaches them how to play out of it. What are your reads, options and cuts. He teaches all of it.
These “concepts” for lack of a better word teach players that winning is the only thing that matters. When players are brought up to play the right way they understand that if you master the fundamentals you will set yourself up for the best possible chance to win in almost any situation.
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