Hopefully by now you’ve read PSB co-founder Logan Kosmalski’s blog post about the ‘F’ in our acronym F.O.C.U.S., which stands for Fun, Overcome, Concentrate, Unity, and Sacrifice.
While it’s extremely important that basketball is an overall fun experience for youth players, it’s equally important to note that it’s not going to be fun all of the time. In fact, sometimes it may be the opposite of fun – it can be maddening, saddening, frustrating, or any of the other “negative” feelings/emotions, and this is not necessarily a bad thing!
Because we see these tough times as a vital experience in youth basketball. These setback, roadblocks, tough times, obstacles, or whatever you want to call them force young players to learn how to fight through, how to get over, how to OVERCOME obstacles in their way, and this, perhaps more than any other skill, may be the most important and useful skill off the court as young players grow up into adults and enter the “real world”.
I know in my basketball career, learning to overcome obstacles taught me to have toughness and grit, and I now genuinely feel as though there is no obstacle too big that I cannot overcome in my life.
So, if we as coaches and parents can see the big picture and take the long term view and embrace the tough times and frustrations in youth basketball simply as opportunities for our players and kids to learn a valuable life lesson, then we will prepare our kids much better for life off the court, which at the end of the day, is the ultimate goal.
So with that in mind, what are some of the roadblocks or obstacles that usually pop up in youth basketball and how can we understand them better to help youth players long term?
This is probably the biggest frustration that kids, parents, and coaches have in youth basketball whether it’s a single loss, losing weekend, or losing season. Whatever it may be, losing has a funny way of making people lose sight of the big picture.
Losing is a part of life.
Everyone is going to lose and, sometimes, lose a lot, but it’s how we teach our kids to respond to those losses that counts. If kids see parents and coaches freak out over losing then how do you think they’re going to learn how to react to losing?
Keep calm and classy after losses and handle them with dignity and respect, and kids will learn how to handle obstacles in their life in the same fashion. Quit, and you teach your kids to do the same anytime they have a roadblock!
#2 Playing Time
The reality is that every player will not get the same amount of minutes, but it is how players deals with that and respond to help their team.
While this can be extremely frustrating for players and parents, a lack of playing time can be a great teaching tool for kids to learn how to EARN what they get rather than expect just to be GIVEN things. See and hear what NBA coach, Doc Rivers, has to say on the subject of kids wanting more playing time as it relates to his own experience as a father.
#3 Individual Performance
Handling a tough game or weekend or season individually in terms of performance can be hard on young and professional basketball players.
Ultimately, if a player isn’t happy with his or her performance then they need to work harder to get better.
Are they putting in the work required to meet their individual expectations and goals?
Often times, the answer is no. Teach players to examine themselves and if their actions and work ethic match their words, expectations, goals and dreams.
Often times parents and players blame the coach(es) for any frustrations the player may have, including but not limited to playing time, individual performance, losing, etc. But the funny thing about this is I have yet to meet a coach that doesn’t want his or her players to play well or their team to win.
The majority of the time, coaches are going to play the players that give the team the best chance to win, so they obviously need and want their players to play to the best of their ability.
If the player deserves to play, they will play, and most coaches, will truly attempt to put their players in the best position to succeed. Again, before blaming the coach, help a young player figure out how to maximize his or her potential by doing what the coach wants and team needs.
#5 Youth Refs
Newsflash: Youth referees are not as good as pro referees – they are going to make some bad calls and mistakes. But they are human beings and for the most part try to do their best in every game.
Youth referees should not be yelled at and criticized.
In fact, the treatment of youth refs has gotten so bad over recent years that there has been a significant decline in the overall numbers of youth referees.
As adults, we should first and foremost treat referees with respect and decency, and secondly, teach our young players to worry about the things they have control over, and the refs and/or bad calls is NOT one of those things.
You cannot control the refs and any calls they make, so simply ignore them, deal with them appropriately, and play basketball!
Not getting along with teammates on or off the court happens all the time, and we’ll deal more with this when we get to the “U” for unity.
But as an obstacle to overcome, young players being frustrated by a teammate or teammates is another great chance to teach a lesson of how to get along with people you might not exactly like.
Just like in the real world, you might not like all of your co-workers, but you still need to get along with them in order to work and complete required goals. Therefore, we can teach a young player that lesson through dealing with teammate situations in a positive manner.
I hope the above examples helped you see how youth basketball can teach young players how to overcome obstacles on the court, which can then translate to their life off of it as well.
Young kids can’t do it alone, so it is vital for parents and coaches to help them along the way by being a positive example!
Next, we’ll be delving into the “C” for concentrate…stay tuned!