The foundation of basketball in our country is developed and nurtured at the youth basketball level. The quality of commitment and coaching at this level can greatly alter the overall health of basketball in the United States.
Those who coach youth have an incredible opportunity to mold young people as students, players, and young men. Character and values, along with a sense of teamwork, listening, and hard work are the makings of a solid philosophy for youth coaches. Too often, though, this important job is taken haphazardly and followed though with little effort and commitment. The result is a group of young men that are not inspired about the game of basketball and carry with them apathy and poor skill development.
At CoachRB, our goal is to facilitate and challenge youth coaches to take their task seriously and learn all they can before and during the coaching experience. We are here to guide and supply youth coaches with the tools they will need to positively lead and develop the young basketball players in our communities and in our country.
For those of you who pour their hearts into coaching youth sports, our hats are off to you. Your countless hours and effort are being used to further the skills and enjoyment of thousands of young players. The job you do could never be fully appreciated by those who have never coached or played as a youth. Congratulations, Coach!
Outline for Positive Experiences in Youth Basketball The Coaches Perspective
1. Develop your own coaching philosophy
a. Establish your main reason for coaching.
b. Be flexible and adapt your philosophy to every day learning and experiences.
c. The young people you coach must be your first priority.
d. Keep it extremely simple……this is true from youth to the NBA.
2. Communicating with young people
a. Develop the art of communicating with kids. This one skill will be the key to your coaching fulfillment and the kid’s enjoyment.
b. See the game through their eyes, not yours.
c. Instruction needs to be positive or constructive only.
3. Working with Parents
a. Being a leader means setting guidelines for parents and players. By doing this, you will minimize most potential obstacles with parents.
c. Keep the child’s best interest in mind as if they were your child.
d. Define “Success” and share this with parents and kids THEN work to meet that definition each day.
4. Develop a program of fundamentals
a. The best coaches are the ones who know that the game is about passing, dribbling, shooting and teamwork AND can teach these to their players on a daily basis.
b. Teaching fundamentals are a step by step process, each day.
c. Set up a “Fundamentals Mastery Game” where players are tested according to their ability to exhibit the key fundamentals. By doing this, players will constantly be working on passing, dribbling, shooting, and teamwork. WHY? FACT–NBA players are not even “masters” of the games’ fundamentals, so why should we think kids are?
d. Always sacrifice fundamental work and solid drills for games. We play way too many games in our country at young ages.
5. Establish a positive, energetic practice environment
a. Share your practice goals with players before each practice.
b. Design simple, single purpose drills that involve all players.
c. Keep practice short and to the point, mixing in a fundamental emphasis with 2-on-2, 3-on-3, and 4-on-4 competition.
d. Use a practice checklist to aid your organization of practice.
e. End practice by discussing the outcome of that day’s goals.
6. Game Time—Teaching Life’s Lessons
a. Games are for the kids, period. Make this your goal and you will greatly improve your chances to have enjoyment, fulfillment and success.
b. Determine playing time in advance and stick with it at game time.
c. Offense-If your players can pass, dribble and shoot, they can play. Design an offense that is spacing & movement oriented NOT play oriented. Coaches undermine the entire experience with “plays”. Leave plays and fancy strategy to the older kids.
d. Defense-Teach players to run back, point to the player they are guarding. A MUST is to properly teach players the concept of “staying between your man and the ball”.
e. Teach players to run into the game and run out of the game.
f. Meet with your team before and after the game away from the floor. Talk about how great the opportunity to play is and to remember the fundamentals of the game. Teach lessons that will stay with these young people for a lifetime.
They may not remember you in 30 years, but they’ll remember what you taught them!
7. Evaluation—Pre-season and Post-season
a. One of the biggest mistakes coaches make is to avoid this crucial opportunity to help your players.
b. Before the season, evaluate each player according to a menu of skills that will be taught during the season. Do this with great detail as it will pay off later on. Share this with the kids and their parents so they know where YOU see them prior to the beginning of the season.
c. Use this information to remind players of areas of improvement as they gain skills and confidence during the year.
d. After the season, evaluate each player in the same manner as you did before the season. HERE IS WHERE KIDS GET EXCITED. Their improvement in many areas will prove to them what their hard work, listening, and attitude did for them. Parents will also greatly appreciate your efforts to show each player’s improvement. Also show areas of improvement that they can address on their own in preparation for the next season.
e. You would be shocked at home many junior high, high school, college and professional coaches miss this golden opportunity. This could be your greatest contribution to the basketball lives of your players.
Coaches, I encourage each of you to put your heart and soul into your coaching. The good youth coach knows that it’s 100 times more about communicating with young people and keeping it simple than it will ever be about fancy plays, poor habits, or winning!It’s called Youth Basketball for a very good reason. It’s not about the coach, the W’s, the parents, or anyone’s ego…………..IT’S ALL ABOUT THE KIDS!