Four Key Targets

When coaching and developing youth players it is important to teach in a way that players will gain knowledge from and have fun at the same time. If coaches teach the game too strictly, youth players could lose interest. If coaches teach the game too loosely, players will have fun, but they will not win or develop their skills. Therefore coaches should focus on three aspects when coaching players; knowledge, enjoyment, and talent.

It is important to know players’ knowledge of basketball before forming a curriculum. Knowing this information will give the coach a basis point to start from. For example, coaches would see if players understand schemes such as switching, and if the players do not understand, coaches would adapt accordingly. Maybe the first couple games with that team the coach would have a defensive tactic not involving switching, but after practicing it would slowly be incorporated. A player’s current knowledge will determine which schemes a coach uses, while also determining what the coach teaches them.

Enjoyment, especially for youth players, is an essential part of the game. As players get older and get to levels such as college or professional play, enjoyment is not as much as a factor. However, I am sure that those players who get to that level, enjoyed the game throughout their youth, and the coach plays a large role in the level of enjoyment. Enjoyment can come in many different forms, from winning to fun practice drills. Most players will be satisfied if the coach fosters a winning environment and the team is winning games. There will also always be players who are bored with practice, or do not like to work too hard. To satisfy those players it would be beneficial to use some of the competition based drills provided throughout lesson five. Coaches could also lessen the amount of cardio or weight lifting players need to do, avoid having practice on back to back days, and lessen the intensity of some practices, to keep players enjoyment levels high. Players also like to be involved in forming the team tactic, so gathering their input would make them feel more involved in the overall direction of the team. Coaches should try to make practice and games as enjoyable for players as possible because if players do not enjoy the game they will not develop.

Talent will always factor into developing players. Some players have naturally gifted abilities such as size or athleticism. Other players will be naturally better shooters than some. It is important to portray to players that once again “hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.” Even though it may require extra work, less talented players can also become talented at a certain aspect of the game over time. Hard work often takes long periods of time to pay off, and coaches may not be with the same group of players for that time period. As a coach of youth players, it would be selfish of a coach to sacrifice the development of the players for short term success. While players should be utilized based on their skills, coaches should have them working on their weaknesses as well, not just working on skills relevant to their current role.

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