For the last 7 years, I’ve been fully immersed in the youth basketball world 24/7/365 through my organization Pro Skills Basketball. In that time, we’ve grown from 3 “AAU” basketball teams in Lake Norman, NC to over 80 club teams in 5 different US cities.
I’ve seen the basketball progression of kids that started with us in 3rd, 4th, 5th grade become high school players, and in one of the cooler experiences with PSB, I’m now seeing some those kids go on to play college basketball.
I’ve also had the opportunity to see a ton of other non-PSB players, teams, and organizations over the last 7 years, so at this point, I’m extremely confident when speaking about youth basketball after having “seen it all” over the past number of years.
Through it all, there has been much more positive than negative, but one of the more interesting things I’ve been privy to is seeing the kids who end up making it to the high school varsity basketball level and beyond, and those who don’t.
I’ve seen more kids than I can count, who were “studs” when they were young, get passed by other players once they got to high school.
Often times this is because they lacked fundamentals, such as shooting, footwork, passing, etc., and simply overwhelmed young players with their athleticism and/or strength, but once they got to high school, were not able to use this as an advantage as players with better skills caught up to them in size and athleticism.
Often times, though, what I see is players burn out and stop working, and more times than not it happens because of the pressure they felt from their parent(s), and specifically more times than not, the father.
After seeing this time and time again, we began to notice similarities between these “crazy basketball parents”. They all consistently did the same things, so what we did is compile a list of 10 of the main things that these crazy basketball parents did.
To be clear, doing one or two of these things did not make one “crazy”. In fact, doing two or three of them are actually pretty normal nowadays.
However, there are some parents out there that hit 7 or 8 of these things, and they’re all pretty nuts when it comes to their child and basketball. In fact, I’ve seen some that can check off all 10 of these things, and those parents are certifiably crazy when it comes to basketball.
So let’s take a look at the list below (not in any particular order). If you’re a parent, how many can you check off?
Top 10 Characteristics of a Crazy Basketball Parent
#1 Transferring Schools for Basketball
It’s become extremely commonplace nowadays for kids to transfer middle schools and high schools simply for basketball. I’ve seen kids transfer from really good academic schools to a really bad academic school just because the basketball was better.
On a similar note, these parents often switch AAU teams multiple times over the course of their youth, or even the course of a season!
Now is transferring schools or switching AAU teams always bad?
Of course not!
Sometimes there are legitimate reasons to switch. But transferring school for strictly basketball purposes can be a slippery slope.
#2 Reclassifying for Basketball
Piggybacking off #1 is reclassifying for basketball, which means a player repeats a grade in order “gain an extra year” with the hopes of being bigger, stronger and more athletic than others in that grade.
There have been cases where some kids even reclassify twice. It’s not uncommon for some kids to graduate high school at 19 years old now!
Again, is reclassifying in and of itself bad? No! But are you doing it for the right reasons?
And keep in mind that at some point in a basketball career, a player has to get used to playing against older, stronger and more experienced players…unless you want to dominate high school ball as a 25-year-old…which I don’t recommend!
#3 Obsession with Basketball Rankings
Do you sign your child up for showcase camps in hopes that they’ll get “ranked” by scouts?
Have you paid money to try and get your child ranked?
Do you know the other kids in your city or state who are ranked?
I’ve come across many parents that can answer “yes” to all 3 of these questions.
Parents often mistakenly put a lot of stock in rankings that don’t actually matter. Many times it’s just an ego-boost that the parent wants to be able to say that their child is ranked by so and so.
It might help to know that college coaches don’t hand out scholarships based on rankings. They do much more research about a player than that!
#4 Creating and Managing Social Media Accounts for the Child
This one happens all the time, especially on Twitter. It’s usually so obvious when a parent is running a social media account, such as Twitter, for the child. The entire feed is basketball clips and highlights of the player and written in a tone that is clearly not coming from a 9-year-old.
Usually, the parent is trying to get the attention of scouts or coaches, which makes it even more humorous when the child is in 5th grade!
#5 Traveling to AAU Tournaments or Showcase Camps Before High School
This is one of my biggest pet peeves in youth basketball. What a waste of time and money for a young player to travel across the country just to play in “nationals” or some “exposure” event!
Take that week spent traveling and at the event and money spent on a plane ticket, hotel, food, etc. and reinvest that into a local skill trainer or a school tutor or something. There are so many other things much more worthwhile than a 4th-grade national championship!
Are you investing in an experience for your child or paying for the notoriety or winning a tournament people will forget in 8 months?
There’s a big difference!
#6 Worrying About College Basketball Recruiting Before High School
For the majority of players who play college basketball, their recruitment didn’t start until their 11th-grade year. For some better players, it was their 10th-grade year. And for the best of the best, it was maybe their 9th-grade year.
Regardless, there is NO need to spend time or energy worrying about college recruiting before your child even gets to high school. Take it one step at a time. Just help them get better today.
Don’t worry about 5 years down the line right now because who knows what will happen between now and then.
#7 Yelling at the Refs, Coach, Team, Child, or Opposing Players During Practices or Games
This is one of the sure signs of a crazy basketball parent. It blows my mind how seemingly normal, mature adults can absolutely lose their mind when it comes to basketball, whether that is berating the refs, screaming at their child, complaining about the coach, or whatever.
The absolute lack of emotional maturity of some adults during basketball or sports activities is mind-boggling. Control your emotions, sit back, and let your child enjoy their youth basketball experience.
And who knows, maybe you’ll end up enjoying it too!
#8 Calling Your Child’s Coach Consistently “Just to Talk”
Are you calling your child’s coach once a week just to talk?
Once every two weeks? Once a month?
Let your child’s coach relax and not have to worry about you obsessing over every little thing.
Are you upset with playing time?
Let your child learn to overcome that and work to earn more playing time. Talk with your child about how to communicate with the coach him or herself about it.
Do you just want to talk a little strategy?
6th-grade basketball is not that serious!
#9 Watching Every Practice or Game
Do you attend pretty much every single practice and game of your child?
Do you ever just let him or her go practice or play without the watchful eye of mom or dad?
We’ve seen parents absolutely smother their kids. And I get it – you want to watch your child play. But sometimes kids need to play without mom or dad watching over them.
And even worse, if they can’t function without you watching over them, what are they going to do if/when the time ever comes where you’re not there?
#10 Making Your Child “Train” When They Don’t Want To
We see this one a lot. The parent makes their child do extra training even when the kid doesn’t want to. This is the fastest way to burn a young basketball player out – make them do it when they don’t want to.
Just let kids be kids and figure out for themselves if they want to do more work or not. It never turns out well when the parent makes that decision for the child.
Well, that’s it – the list of the 10 most common signs of a crazy basketball parent. It’s sort of a sliding scale. Checking off 1-3 of is relatively normal. Don’t worry too much. Just be careful. You’re moving down a slippery slope.
Checking the box in 4-6 of these is a pretty dangerous place. You’re a semi-crazy basketball parent.
Yes to 7-8 of these boxes?
You’re a legitimately crazy basketball parent.
Are you at 9-10 of these?
Well, you may need to call your nearest psychologist asap. From what we’ve seen that NEVER ends well!