Blog Post

Basketball on the Edge – My Son Did Not Start Today by Chris Fore

Bench Players

Chris Fore shares a great message to parents in this article. As long as you are fine with what happens, your child will be fine with it. Here are some points Chris makes in the article.

If you’re teaching your kids all along the way that the TEAM > i, then when he doesn’t start, it won’t be a big deal.

If you’re teaching your kid to shake the coach’s hand, and say thank you after every single practice and game, he will have a healthy respect for his coach; it won’t matter when he doesn’t start.

If you teach your kid that every single person has a role to play on a team, starting at a young age, then it won’t be a big deal when he doesn’t start.

If you teach your kid to “just play hard and have fun,” then it won’t be a big deal when he doesn’t start.

If you use teachable moments while watching the NFL to teach your child that you don’t always get what you want, it won’t be a big deal when he doesn’t start.

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Basketball on the Edge – The Perfect Coach – Vintage Edition

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As a youth basketball parent it is very important for you to choose the right program or coach for your young player. There will be no greater factor in your child’s development as a basketball player. What should you be looking for in a coach or their program? Read more about choosing the right program here and what a youth basketball practice should look like here. These two articles should give you a great starting point for making a decision about who should be coaching your young player.

Once you have selected the coach, you (and your young player) may come to realize that your coach is not perfect. How do you help your young player make the most of their opportunities despite the perceived “faults” of the coach?

The first thing to remember is that the “perfect” coach does not exist. Every player that has ever played the game has at one time or another disagreed with their coach. Michael Jordan resisted Phil Jackson’s Triangle Offense at first. Of course, Jackson was unproven at the time, but he turned out to be a pretty good coach. He has won 11 NBA Championships! There are players that play for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke or John Calipari at Kentucky that don’t think their coaches know everything or make all the right decisions. These are coaches that win consistently without fail. There is a good chance they know what they’re doing and yet their own players still feel like these coaches make mistakes in strategy, skill development, or playing time.

As a youth basketball parent you may question some of the coach’s decisions. Unless your concern relates to the safety of the players you should keep it to yourself. The coach is in a much better (and unbiased) position to make decisions regarding the team than you are.

What advice should you give your young player when they disagree with a decision made by their coach?

First of all, make sure they know they are not alone. You can cite the examples above to help them understand that even the players who play for the best coaches in the world sometimes disagree with their coach. When I was in college, I disagreed with a personnel decision my coaches made during my junior season. I felt the decision cost my team the opportunity to win more games. I talked about it with teammates, questioned it in my head, but I never let a poor attitude or poor body language sabotage me, my coach, or my team. Disagreements are a natural part of the coach-player relationship. If your child has a high basketball IQ and knows the game well it is very likely that they may disagree with the coach from time to time. It is critical to handle those disagreements either in a private conversation with the coach or for your young player to keep their thoughts to themselves. Poor body language, eye rolling or not doing what you are asked to do are great ways to anger a coach and put yourself in the doghouse.

Second, great coaches often do things differently. That is what makes them great. They may run a unique offensive system or create unusual drills. The coach may establish their winning culture in ways that can seem strange at first glance. Help your young player learn to deal with and appreciate those differences rather than complain about them.

Third, smart players don’t spend time worrying about things they cannot control. Remember, every player has dealt with this issue. Teach your young player to control their attitude, effort, hustle, and preparation. Time wasted on complaining is time that could be spent getting better or making a positive contribution to the team. So they disagree with their coach? He or she doesn’t do everything exactly the way your young player would? Help them shake it off and reemphasize the things they can control. Teammates often get caught up in the cycle of questioning the coach. Every player and team does a certain amount of talking (complaining?) about their coach. It is the nature of the game. On the best teams that kind of talk is quickly put aside and the focus is shifted back to what we as players can do to help our team be successful.

Fourth, as a parent, if you are always saying “If only the coach would do this…or not do that” it rubs off on your young player and they may start making excuses rather than looking for solutions. Help your young player look for ways to improve their game rather than placing the blame on the coach. You can’t “improve” your coach other than by getting better and helping your team to win more games.

Rather than bemoaning the fact that your coach isn’t perfect, look for ways you can improve as a player. Be about solutions not excuses!

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Basketball on the Edge – How can your body language hold you back? by CorrectMyPlay.com

Bad Body Language

Why is body language important? How can it impact your success as a player? Why do coaches care about it? This article and the accompanying video of UConn Women’s Coach Geno Auriemma clearly explain the importance of body language and why players should be mindful of the messages their body language is sending.

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Basketball on the Edge – Beware of Empty Stats by Adam Finkelstein

Empty Stats

Growing up, my Dad always talked to me about playing a good “floor” game. What he meant was that I could impact the game in more ways than just scoring. A great performance isn’t always measured in point totals. This article points out the need for players and parents to keep in mind that coaches and scouts are looking for players who can impact winning and not just put up empty stats.

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Basketball on the Edge -How Do You React To Losing – Vintage Edition

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When your young player loses a game what happens next? How do you handle the situation? How should you handle the situation? The key is to remember why your child is playing the game. Your goal as a parent should be to help them foster a love of the game, to encourage your young player to develop a growth mindset, and to help them develop their basketball skills. If you only define their success by wins and losses, both you and your child will be very unhappy.

The first thing you should do is allow a cooling off period immediately following the game. Kids react differently to losing and you know your child best, but all young players need time after a game to process what happened. As a parent you probably need that time too! You should avoid talking about specific situations in the game unless your child brings it up. What your young player always needs is your unconditional love and support. That doesn’t change whether they win or lose.

I always ask my kids four questions after a game. Did you have fun? Did you play hard? Did you listen to your coach? Were you a great teammate? Most times I get a standard yes to all three and then I tell them, “I love watching you play!” Occasionally they will want to talk about something that happened in the game and we’ll go ahead and talk about it. Otherwise, I give them their space and let them work through the game on the car ride home.

Eventually, you may want to have a discussion with your young player about the game. Here are some guidelines for having that discussion.

Frame the discussion around a growth mindset and the opportunity to learn. A loss is not the end of the world, help your child use it as a springboard to improve. Don’t belittle your young player or scream at them. They won’t react favorably to these tactics and using them repeatedly will often drive them away from the sport. They started playing because the game was fun, don’t take that away from them. They need your love and support regardless of whether they win or lose a game!

Don’t blame other players, the referees, or the coach for the loss. There is no worse lesson you can teach your young player than to make excuses. By making excuses or blaming others you are setting up your child to always point the finger at someone else and not take responsibility. It is only by taking responsibility for what happened that we as parents can set the table for improvement. Losing happens to everyone, even the very best players in the world. Use the loss to help your young player understand the game better and use it as motivation to improve. How do you do that? You can ask these questions during your discussion of the game.

“What did you learn from the game?”

“What was something you did really well during the game?”

“What was something that you can improve on during practice before the next game”?

“What was your favorite part of the game or the best play?”

Try to relate the loss to a real life lesson from your own life. An example might be how you learned from a mistake you made and it led to even greater success in the long run.

Be very specific in your praise. Kids don’t attach much meaning to the generic “Good Game!” comment. That often goes in one ear and out the other. Instead point out how they did a great job helping on defense or went 4 for 4 from the free throw line. That specific praise is most likely to be heard and appreciated.

You can also praise them for continuing to battle despite their team being behind or because they encouraged the rest of the team to step up their play or not give up even though they were losing. These are characteristics you want to encourage in your young player. Look for chances to teach these kinds life lessons through basketball.

The other thing to talk to your young player about is that they have the ability to improve and play better the next game. That is the growth mindset. Their effort should never waver. That ability to work hard gets them through challenges like a tough loss or learning a new skill. Mistakes are part of getting better! Encourage them to think about how they played in this game and what they need to do in the next game.

Finally, if there is a specific mistake or decision you want to point out from the game, continue to frame it in such a way that encourages your young player to grow and learn. Explain what went wrong in the game and how with hard work in training they can make it right.
If you follow these simple guidelines for handling a loss you will be helping your young player foster a love of the game, you will encourage their growth mindset, and you will motivate them to improve their basketball skills. That process is what winning is all about.

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