Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Burnout in the Summer - Getting Kids to Do it On Their Own

Sometimes you hear people talk about "the good old days" when kids worked hard and didn't have to be pushed to go out and play basketball. They did it on their own. There are often negative comments made that kids are spending too much time on the computer and X-Box and not enough time playing basketball. I PERSONALLY think that kids are playing more STRUCTURED BASKETBALL than ever, and that might be part of the reason for not seeking more of it.

When high school players played back in the "good old days" they did it all on their own. They called their friends up and facilitated things for the most part. You usually hear stories about how "we got the keys from the coach and let ourselves in". Obviously in today's lawsuit happy age you can't get away with that, so now coaches come in and open the gym (many times coaches, like me find they really enjoy it). When coaches are in a gym, many do what they like to do in a gym, coach. And because they are there they want to make sure most of their guys are there. The open gyms don't even begin to touch on all the other "structured" opportunities high school players get every year in the "off season" - 100s of summer camps where there were only a few years ago (if any), the extreme growth AAU, high school summer leagues, etc. So those structured activities have now replaced the non-structured activities and has also allowed players to not have to work at or seek out their own opportunities to play. It is all there for them.

Another side to this is, I personally feel, is some players find basketball less fun because they are being pushed to do it. As an example: when you feel like getting outside and mowing the lawn or doing other housework outside you enjoy it because YOU made the decision to do it. Now imagine that your girlfriend/wife nags you to get out and mow the lawn instead. Suddenly, with someone pushing you and supervising you the task becomes less enjoyable. Sometimes I think that this is what has happened with the summer for some players. Because they are being supervised and pushed it becomes a "chore" instead of something that is fun. I feel that too much of it can become a negative thing.

What is the solution? Go completely away from all structure??? Of course not! The structure is great and it shows with more and more talented players each year. It's what quality programs do. I try to get my guys in the gym for fundamental workouts as much as I can. But I also think you have to have some balance and with the structure and teaching of the open gym also give players time to just play and have fun. Another thing I think is important is to give the players a chance to be leaders and get each other in there. Don't get on the kids that are not in the gym; instead challenge the player's peers to motivate them into the gym. I think doing this makes the situation more enjoyable for all. Also, I never want to force a kid into the gym or make it mandatory. I want kids to get in the gym because they simply want to be there.

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