Over the course of the next few weeks I will be writing a series of blogs directed towards parents with the hopes to add some insight and guidance to what we know as the crazy world of youth basketball.
There is so much out there and as parents we are always concerned with making sure we are doing as much for our kids as possible and giving them the chance to be successful. But how much is enough? How much is too much? What is really necessary for our 5th grade, 8th grade, and or even our 11th grade child?
I have spent the last 25 years deeply entrenched in the basketball world, and specifically in developing players of all ages, including some of the best NBA players in history. But I have also spent the last 10 years with my own kids, playing in countless events, being invited to clinics and camps everywhere. True development is being overshadowed by good business ideas.
Everywhere you look, there is a camp, a trainer, and a new gimmick intended to give your child “the advantage.” But what really gives them an advantage? That is what we will be discussing and really getting answers to the question I get daily from concerned parents worrying about doing the best they can for their aspiring young player.
The majority of the discussion will not be centered around the elite level players. These players have very little deciding to do - as their path will be created for them. Our concern is for the players looking to make their high school teams, make the varsity team, and even play at some level of college basketball. This is where the majority of our children exist and while we would all love for our sons or daughters to make it to the NBA or WNBA, odds are against them in a big way. But we are all “cray parents” in a sense. We want the most for our kids and we want them to show superhuman strength and mental toughness 100% of the time. We’ve all been on that dreaded “car ride home” where there is just too much tension in the air! No matter if our kids are 7 or 17!
So how do we decide how to structure their schedules? What teams should they play on? How many games are too many? And what should they be doing with training and camps to make sure they are improving?
Because I have seen the game from all sides, and especially from the highest level, for over 20 years, I have tremendous insight into answering these questions. I have seen the player who is dominating in the 6th grade go on to not even make his high school team, and also seen the player get cut from 6th grade then become a high school star and college player. These scenarios happen all over the country, and frequently. My goal is to make sure you, as a parent, have a good understanding of how to assure you son or daughter at least has the best chance possible to be successful in basketball.
GETTING BETTER THE OLD FASHIONED WAY
In today’s youth game, there are so many options. So many teams. So many camps. And so many trainers always available to work your kids out. There are so many people telling us “your son needs exposure, so take him to this event.” It’s over-the-top! To think that a 6th grader “needs exposure” is actually quite humorous if you think about it. When a player comes from college to the NBA, there are many players who, in the draft process, are over-hyped and receive a lot of attention. There are others who are a bit under the radar for whatever reason. But, in the end, it is always the player who is a better basketball player that ends up being successful. All the hype goes out the window as soon as the evaluation process begins.
This is no different at the youth level and for that reason, there is nothing you need to be more concerned with than making sure your child is getting better.
If you son is playing on the “top ranked” team in the city, but doesn’t play very much and is a small piece of the team, is he getting better? If he is training with someone who has limited knowledge of the game, is he getting better? And, if he’s playing on 3 different teams with multiple games daily on the weekends, is that helping him prepare or improve? The answer is most likely - no.
We have built our entire system at Impact on the foundation to be able to actually get players better. And our track record speaks for itself. It is not 1 thing - but a combination of many things, training, playing, eating right, having the right mental approach, etc. We have perfected that system and are constantly updating it to stay sharp.
So...the message here is to make sure your son or daughter is working - the old fashioned way.
Someone with knowledge should evaluation them, as we do at Impact, and put a plan together to improve the deficiencies and also continue to work on strengths. Then, a great plan can be set up that will combine playing, training, nutrition, and making sure his or her mental approach to it all is at its best. This involves working hard, commitment to details, and prioritizing things carefully.
Playing on the best team, or “being ranked” for a middle school, or even as a younger high school player, is not only not necessary, but not helpful at all to his or her basketball future. Players who put the work in, the right way, will pass the ones who do not. Yes, talent has to be present, but the talented kids who chase the wrong things as a young player will lose their advantage at some point to the other kids working the right way.
It is not easy. We all want to play in every tournament and see our kids be successful on their teams. But sometimes the best move is to take a step back, set up a solid combination of training and playing in a situation that allows your child to improve, and passing on all the other offerings that are constantly presented. Playing is great, and necessary, but only when combined with the right training and overall approach and plan.
Our next few posts will address the specifics and even discuss some of the very specific things we do at Impact that will help you lead the way for your son or daughter...
If you would like to train your son or daughter the way Impact would, we have professionally recorded over eight hours of the work we do with players at all levels and made it available for you.
Click here for the Parents & Players Online Training Course.