While it is really vital that basketball remain fun, it is also important that it not be fun at all times. Sometimes, like coaching youth basketball, it can be maddening, frustrating and downright disappointing to be a player… but that’s all a part of the game.
This unique balance of the good and the bad teaches life lessons that may not be evident to young children for years to come. If you are wanting to instill a little knowledge into your team, here are some things to consider…
This is by far the largest disappointment to kids when it comes to basketball. But let’s face it… losing is all part of life and if we learn to lose well, we will learn to come back better next time. Losing makes winning feel twice as good and knowing how it feels to lose helps us to empathize better with others when they are going through a hard time.
Solution: Keep calm and be classy when you lose. Don’t yell and act a fool. Be a grown up. Your team is watching you and the way that you act toward the ref is the way that they will act toward the ref. If you teach them to respect authority now, you will teach them to respect authority all throughout life.
2. Playing Time
You can help your team to earn time on the court… but you can also teach them to help from the bench. For some, this may be holding up signs or cheering. Your team may have another idea to how this will work.
Solution: While this is frustrating for kids and parents, the difference in earning a position and being given a position is a big one and it is an important lesson for kids. We cannot expect to be given everything that we want. We have to learn to work for it.
3. Individual Performance
Going through a challenging season can be hard on everybody… especially young players. This can be very difficult individually on young players.
Solution: In the end if a player is not happy with their own performance, it is up to them to make changes. You can help them to learn and grow, but it is eventually up to them to make these changes stick and to practice what you have taught them on a regular basis.
4. Youth Refs
Youth refs are NOT NBA refs. They are going to make bad calls and some will be clearly wrong. The key is to suck it up and accept it for what it is.
Solution: Don’t yell and get angry at the refs. Respect their authority. The way youth refs have been treated in recent years has greatly declined the amount of people willing to take the job… so go easy. They will take their cues from you. They are watching you far more than you realize.
The coach will always get the brunt of the blame when it comes to playing time, winning or losing and just about everything you can think of. Most of the time, however, coaches WILL play the players that give them the best chance of winning a game.
Solution: Coaches will give their players their best chance to succeed. This means playing players who will be good in the position they are chosen for. However, this also means training the other players to grow into players who get court time. This is a life lesson for you too, you cannot always be willing to accept all the blame. even when it feels like its your fault. It isn’t.
Teammates often do no see eye to eye… on or off the court. This is where we have to be diligent about unity.
Solution: This is a great opportunity to teach kids how to get along with people they don’t necessarily like. This is a real world skill that will transfer far from the court. One day your point guard may find himself working in IT and trying desperately to be nice to that jerk in accounting. Hey… this IS the real world and one day it will begin for them too.
As you continue your journey coaching youth basketball and trying to change lives, remember, you are not merely shaping playing skills on the court… but life skills in the court of life.