Crispin Basketball exists to help players of all ages and abilities play the game better and enjoy the game more.
Four key ideas guide everything we do.
In the rush to “teach” the game, well-meaning coaches and parents often control so much of the action, the rules, and the workouts that the opportunity for discovery is neglected – or worse, taken away. But the process of discovery is foundational to development and joy. Discovering more about the game, more about yourself, and more about relating to others in competition are essentials to loving the game and developing as a player. This is true at every single stage of development.
Our adult-directed youth sports’ world has failed to emphasize the primary importance of discovery. I understand why. Discovery requires space. It requires patience. It is impossible to get your hands upon. It is also difficult to organize in such a way that it leaves an impression on the audience! So we often want to rush the process in order to get kids where we want them to go quicker. Or we want to show parents what a good job we are doing with all our organization. But that’s not how real development works in any walk of life. In order to really reach your potential in any discipline, you must submit to the messy learning process. The artist must tinker. So also the musician or the writer. Greatness requires the space to mess up, learn, and develop at your own pace.
Overly controlled games and workouts may look good on the surface, but there is often less learning, because there is less room for discovery. Naturally, what it looks like depends on the age and stage of your players. But no matter what, discovery must be at the heart of what you do. It is at the heart of every program we run.
We value a liberal arts education in basketball. In all our programming our aim is to create kids who can play. Really play. Ballers. We don’t want to create kids who look good in warm-ups or workouts. As a college coach, I can assure you, there are way too many of these players in the world! We want kids who just know how to play. We want to help develop kids who are increasingly confident and competent in the game. This requires a diversity of basketball experience.
In looking back at my career, one of the reasons I was able to become a Division I and professional basketball player is because I was given an incredibly diverse basketball education in my most formative years. I spent tons of time playing on the playground. But I also grew up around the dinner table with coaches and behind the bench and in the locker room. I played in the suburbs and in the city. I understood structure, but also how to play free. I was given the gift of a liberal arts education.
It is virtually impossible to control the entire process for everyone, but we can at least make the effort to duplicate this type of experience. Offer opportunities for free play. Introduce concepts and language, but do so in a way that promotes experimentation at the same time. Emphasize the right teaching concepts at the right time. Don’t try to make development something under your control. Leave some space. Don’t rush things. Play different places and in different ways and in different games. In short: Diversify!
Teach players to own their own game. I can assure you that high school and college coaches everywhere are bemoaning the lack of self-initiation, self-motivation and self-discovery among our current generation of players. In fact, restoring these elements to my players is a primary focus for me as a college coach. After all, players and teams who maximize their potential have to have this quality! They must learn how to own it!
The best teachers teach in such a way that they eventually make themselves unnecessary. But that’s often not good for business! Lesser teachers want to show you how much they need you. They don’t always realize they are doing so, but they do so. All. The. Time.
In order for players of all ages and abilities to reach their own potential, they must learn how to own their own game. This means more than you think. It starts with free play. But it also involves organizing your group at a clinic or camp. Or choosing your own teams. Or communicating with your teammates. Or choosing the skills you want to work on next. (And yes, it also involves coaches and parents saying much, much less!) This emphasis on ownership is rarely emphasized in the world of our children today. So we must do things differently. We must leave some space for them to fill. We must give them the freedom and power to own it!
Know what matters when. Peak when it matters most. Win the long-game. Love the game for life. And pass it on to others!
I spend most of my time as a college basketball coach, but I also spend more than enough time on the youth basketball scene to come to one big conclusion: we are not thinking big enough! Or long-term enough.
I can’t tell you how many college coaches I have talked to who are disturbed by the youth basketball scene today. Go to a weekend tournament and you will realize that we are so fixated on the now, the today, that we often make decisions that stifle the tomorrow. There is no escaping the fact that we often must make a choice. Win now or win later? Focus on long-term development or short-term gain? Fuel the love or emphasize the work? If we aren’t careful, we can progress today in a way that minimize the long-term well-being of our kids.
We are committed to winning the long-game. Everything matters. Yes. Of course everything matters! But not everything matters today. You need to have the wisdom and the discipline to know what matters now. Too many kids are burning out. It’s an epidemic. Kids peak at age 14 or 15 and then come to me in college and have nothing left. Or worse, they quit. And they never develop the love for the game that they can pass it onto others.
In all our programs, we are committed to implementing our developmental priorities, because underneath all these priorities is a committed to the long-term well-being of the kids we work with. This commitment may only lead to subtle results now, but it is the only way to progress if you care about the future!