Three lies are everywhere in youth sports. As a parent or a coach, ask yourself if you are guilty of believing them.
1) More is better.
I understand why we believe this, but we have to be careful how far we take it. It seems to me that most people are convinced that in order to keep up with others or maximize potential, our kids must do more, more, more! Especially when it comes to organized activities.
The business of youth sports convinces us of this, but it's not true. There is often a point of diminishing return. Rest and rejuvenation is needed. Time for free play. The extra day or two a week may not make them improve as much as you think. In fact, it may make them worse in the end. More isn't always better.
2) Bigger (or farther away) is better.
The bigger the tournament or the longer the distance, the better it is. Or the bigger the program name or sponsor, the better it is. Nope. Not even close. If you aren't dominating things locally, why travel a few extra hours and pay more money to get beat? I just don't get it. Bigger isn't always better. In fact, it is often worse. It costs more and gives you less. Maximize the small opportunities in front of you and you may be surprised how far you can go.
3) We need to get there faster.
This may be the worst one. We need our kids to get better now, dominate now, work harder now, be the best on the team now. But why? What are we after? If it's a marathon, who cares who is in the lead in the first 3 miles? Or 8 Miles? Or 12 miles? Or more?
I just don't get this. I see constant descriptions for youth camps that promise they are going to change your kid's jump shot or his game or his confidence. In what? A week? A season? That's ridiculous. It's a borderline lie. That is not how development works. I may adopt a new description for every season program we have. It goes like this...
"You kid will get a little bit better and should enjoy the game a little bit more."
How's that sell for you? So life-altering, I know, but it's true. That's how it works. No dramatic, crazy steps. Just a step or two ahead in their development. That's all. And that should always be enough.
Stop believing these lies. They are everywhere today. Our kids need us to believe the truth and to enjoy the process day-by-day.
The shot-clock is the best teacher of offensive basketball ever conceived by man.
The more I watch basketball at every level of play, the more I believe that this statement is universally true. It is a key that unlocks a thousand developmental doors. I am going to list some reasons here. It is so important to focus on this, because although the United States invests more and more resources into basketball at every level, until we adopt a shot-clock at every level, we are stunting the growth and development of our players. It is not an overstatement.
The International game is played with a 24 second shot-clock. In most countries, from about 6th grade on up. And maybe younger. It's just their normal game. And though it may not seem like much, it teaches them better than any coach in the world. I am not going to elaborate on these reasons right now, but I will list them. USA Basketball and every state in America needs to take notice.
1) The shot-clock forces players to learn how to create efficient offensive scoring opportunities.
2) The shot-clock forces all players to learn how to shoot.
3) The shot-clock forces coaches to teach all their players how to shoot.
4) The shot-clock forces players to embrace their offensive roles on a respective team.
5) The shot-clock forces coaches to become better offensive teachers by forcing them to learn how to teach their players how to actually score.
6) The shot-clock gives every player more opportunities to develop their offensive game, in every game. More passing and shooting and dribbling opportunities.
7) The shot-clock teaches teams how to play better defense by forcing them to guard better offensive actions every single game.
8) The shot-clock leads to a game that is more fun to watch. It increases rhythm.
9) The shot-clock saves the sanity of college coaches who are tired of watching horrible offensive basketball at the youth and high school levels and teaching college players things they should already know. (Yea, that one's personal).
There is more, but that is plenty to get started with. I will elaborate more on these in the weeks ahead. I promise you, I am not overstating the case. The shot-clock is the best teacher of offensive basketball ever invented. Things need to change!