You know you won’t perform your best on an empty tank. But eat too much, too close to game time, and your pre-game meal may wind up on your shoes (or in a nearby trash can). Your best bet is to eat a pre-game snack about half an hour before you step onto the court or field to top off your energy stores, helping you power past opponents in the closing minutes.
A good pre-game snack will give you easily digested carbohydrates (simple sugars, not complex carbs or fiber), and perhaps a little protein and fat. Ideally, your snack will be portable and capable of staying good for hours inside a backpack or locker, since not every student-athlete has access to a refrigerator.
I was recently hanging out with a friend of mine who was talking to my third grade son about his basketball team. My friend asked, “What do you like best about basketball?” Of course, my son responded with “Shooting!” Who doesn’t love to shoot? Then my friend gave a surprising response. He said, “I remember when your dad was in elementary school. All he did was dribble down the court between defenders and shoot lay-ups. You need to work on your ball handling so you can do that.” I’m not sure how much impact that statement had on my son, but it summed up my philosophy about teaching kids the right way to play basketball. If your child can handle the ball they can get where they want to go on the court and shoot lay-ups.
How did I develop those ball handling skills? I did the “Daily Dozen” in my basement, on the driveway, or in the living room watching television. I started at around 7 years old but your child can start at any age. Each drill for one minute at maximum effort every day. If your young player does that for one month they will improve their ball handling and be a better player. If they keep practicing every day at maximum effort they will be able to dribble the ball under pressure in any situation on the court.
Here are the first three drills from the “Daily Dozen”
1. Drop Behind the Back – The player holds the ball with two hands behind the back of their neck. The player then releases the ball and quickly moves both hands to catch the ball behind the back. Next, the ball is bounced through the legs and caught with two hands in front of the waist.
2. Flip ups – Ball moves in the opposite direction from the Drop Behind the Back. Player holds the ball with both hands at the waist and bounces the ball through the legs catching it with two hands behind the back. The ball is then flipped up behind the head and caught with both hands behind the head/neck.
3. Figure 8 no dribble – The ball is held in one hand at a time and moved in a figure 8 pattern around one leg and then the other. The ball is not dribbled at all during this drill. After thirty seconds reverse the figure 8 and change the direction the ball is moving through the legs.
Many parents wonder – “How can I support and encourage my child, and at the same time help them succeed at the game of basketball?”
This article contains 9 tips for youth basketball parents to help you support and encourage your child in their passion for youth basketball.
By following these tips, you are not only being a supportive and loving parent, but you are also setting your child up to succeed.
Let’s start with the premise that your child wants to become a good basketball player. Remember, that desire has to come from them. If it comes from you as the parent they are never going to love the game enough to practice, play, and get better.
The goal setting process begins with a vision. Does your child see themselves as a basketball player in the future? Can they see themselves playing on a local travel team, an AAU team, the high school varsity, a college team? Take your young player to games at all levels. You are providing opportunities for your child to envision themselves in those environments. Ask them questions like, “Would you like to play for the high school team some day?” The vision of their future selves is a powerful motivator. I loved watching the high school team go through warm-ups when I was in elementary school. I wanted to be able to slap the backboard on a layup just like the varsity players. I knew I would do that someday. The vision became a part of me. If your young player wants to achieve their vision they will begin to realize that practice and training will be required.
As a young player starts to work on their basketball skill set it is important that they set more specific goals that provide a road map for achieving their vision. Players of all ages have a tendency to practice basketball by just “shooting around”. We’ve all done it. Tossing shots at the basketball, going through motions, not being focused. Practice sessions should have goals that are SMART.
Specific – The goal should focus on a particular skill. (left handed layups, crossover dribbles, free throws)
Measurable – The goal can be measured in some way. (time, # of reps, # of shots made, etc.)
Attainable – The goal should be achievable. (Make 70 out of 100 free throws)
Realistic – Is the goal possible? (Be a starter on my CYO team vs. Become the best 6th grade player in the state)
Timely – Set a goal for the day, the week, the month, the season
These SMART goals should help your young player to be motivated to work toward their vision. Little things make big things happen. Nobody gets to a high level of basketball overnight. A series of goals are set and then achieved.
Although I wasn’t quite as scientific in my approach as a young player, one of the things that I did when I was a kid was to keep a daily basketball journaI. I recorded my basketball activities for the day and the total number of hours that I practiced. I often charted my free throws and jump shots. I wrote down how many reps of ball handling drills that I could do in a minute. I was always trying to get better. I could track my progress because I wrote things down. Without doing that it is too hard to remember what you did yesterday let alone a month or two ago. When I was 10 or 11 I read a quote from Dick DeVenzio, a coach and former player at Duke, who said that your most challenging competitor is “You Yesterday”. I always tried to beat that guy.
The bottom line on goals is this. Help your young player develop a vision of themselves as a basketball player. Take them to games and talk to them about what they are seeing. Help them set goals along the way that motivate them and help them improve. Have them record their daily practice in a journal or notebook. Without writing something down it is hard to know where you have been and where you are going. Players with goals will achieve more than those that just go out and “shoot around”.
Click below for a link to a great article about being a basketball parent by Alan Stein of Stronger Team. Alan makes a number of great points in this article that can help you and your young player get more enjoyment and life lessons out of their basketball career. The tips can also be applied to almost any sporting activity your child will ever participate in. As a parent of a young basketball player I think you will find this article insightful as your son or daughter’s basketball career progresses.