I wanted to share a story with you about a high school basketball player named Kyle. Kyle played at a small high school in Central Indiana, during the single class era. Even though he came from a small school, his team had really high expectations. His squad had all of the pieces to be competitive with the big schools. They had a couple of big post players, some athletic wings and Kyle was the team’s point guard. While Kyle wouldn’t impress you with his quickness or his jumping ability, he could really play. He handled the ball extremely well with both hands, he was a deft passer, and had an outside shot that came right out of a shooting manual.
The two things that probably made Kyle more valuable to his team than anything else were his basketball IQ and his willingness to play his role. Even at a relatively young age, Kyle knew what it took to win, and he was willing to sacrifice any personal agenda for the good of the team. His basketball IQ was no doubt influenced by the fact that he grew up in a basketball family. His Dad was a former high school basketball coach and his older brother was on a basketball scholarship at a small school in Illinois.
Even though Kyle could really knock down the three point shot, he rarely ever shot them in a game. He would shoot from time to time, but he was content to play his role as a point guard first…. start the offense, get the ball inside to the post players, or find one of the wings open for a shot. Kyle led the team in 3 point shooting percentage and would probably win a team HORSE contest, but when it came time to shooting in a game, he usually deferred to his teammates.
It would have been easy for Kyle’s judgment to be clouded by a personal goal of trying to make the all conference team, or listening to a well-meaning family member. His older brother pleaded with him on a weekly basis to “shoot the ball.” Kyle would always respond with, “It’s not my job.” His brother would say, “But you have the best shot on the team.” Kyle would reply, “It’s not my job.” His brother would get very frustrated with him. He wanted to see Kyle score, he wanted to see him make all-conference…. all Kyle wanted to do was win.
I think players of all ages have to deal with the pressures of well-meaning parents, siblings, and even friends and neighbors. Without a doubt, all of these people go to the game in hopes of seeing their loved one be the star of the team. They want to see him score 30 points and hit the game winning shot every night. Think about it, have you ever heard a parent tell their son to “Stop shooting and start rebounding and playing defense?” I haven’t.
Coaches want “All-Stars” on their team. I know I do, but I’m not looking for your typical “All-Star.” I’m looking for guys who are willing to be “All-Stars in their role,” like my brother Kyle. Yep, I said it… like my brother Kyle. I was that well-meaning family member who thought he knew more than the coach. I wanted to see my brother shoot it more, and all he wanted to do was win. As it turned out, his team ended up being one of the best teams his high school ever had because he was an “All-Star in his role.” As for me, I don’t mind admitting that my younger brother taught me a valuable lesson that really helped me during my playing days in college as well as in my coaching career. I can’t thank him enough.
1. Be an “Energy Giver.”
There are two types of people in this world: Energy Givers and Energy Takers. Being positive and enthusiastic will enable you to play better and your positive energy will be contagious to your teammates.
Hustling can’t just be something that you do on game night. It’s something that must also be done everyday in practice. Diving on the floor for loose balls is great, but sprinting from drill to drill and trying to win every sprint is just as important. Hustling is another thing that is contagious to your teammates.
3. Make A “Click Pass”
A “click pass” is a pass that is in your hands less than an 1/8 of a second. Moving the ball quickly is a staple of every good offense. Many players are “passers of last resort.” They only pass the ball when there are no other options. These kinds of players wreak havoc on their team’s offensive flow. I’m not saying you should make a click pass every time you receive the ball, but adding it to your game will enable your team to get better ball movement and it will make the game easier for your teammates.
4. Blockout On Every Possession
Not every player is going to be a great rebounder, but every player can be great at blocking out.
5. Take Charges
Every team needs a defensive presence in the paint. The problem in high school is that there aren’t many players capable of consistently blocking shots. Even when you run across a player who can, most high school officials will still blow the whistle. A team that is good at taking charges will have a solid defensive presence in the paint, and anyone is capable of taking a charge.
6. Be The First To Practice And The Last To Leave
Understanding the difference between preparing for practice and waiting for practice is very important. The best players will arrive early and will already be sweating before the coach has blown the whistle for the first time. When practice is over try to stay and work on some of your weaknesses.
7. Compliment Good Passes And Screens
Everyone loves a compliment. Make it a practice of complimenting teammates for making good passes or for setting a screen that leads to a basket. These are the actions that are really important in scoring, but often get overlooked. Complimenting these actions will positively reinforce them and make them more likely to happen again.
8. Know Your Role… Accept Your Role
The most effective players understand their strengths and weaknesses and they are able to play to their strengths while minimizing their weaknesses. If you aren’t a very good three point shooter, you should not be shooting threes. If you are great at rebounding and defending then play that role as well as you possibly can. Not every player has the role that they want, but teams become great when every player accepts and excels at his role.
9. Be A Good Communicator
Communicate with your teammates and coaches. On the floor you should be constantly communicating with your teammates. Basketball is not played in a library. Be loud and talkative. Also communicate with your coach. Ask questions, be attentive, and build a good rapport with him. If you are going to maximize your contribution to the team it is important that you are on the same page with your coach.
10. Play Present
Don’t dwell on mistakes. When you make a mistake, move on and focus on the next play. Playing Present is concentrating on the two things you can control at all times-your attitude and your effort.
Alan Stein has been one of my favorite people is basketball for quite some time. He was the strength and conditioning coach for the DeMatha High School basketball team while speaking at clinics and performing demonstrations world-wide. He was recognized as the top basketball specific strength and conditioning coach in the world before pivoting into a career as a corporate public speaker. He once wrote an article on his blog entitled “8 Things Players Should Do To Maximize Their Practice Time.” I wanted to share some of his thoughts below.
1. Be well fueled, well hydrated, and well rested.
I couldn’t agree more. I think kids today really neglect these three areas. Their eating habits are poor, they don’t drink enough water and they definitely don’t get enough rest. The lack of sleep may be the biggest problem that I see. High school athletes need a minimum of 8 hours of sleep per night and they would function better if they would get 9-10 hour of sleep per night.
2. Get to practice early.
I think it is important to “prepare” for practice and not “wait” for practice. If a player could get 100 extra shots in before practice, that would go a really long way toward making him a better player.
3. Approach practice with a “game like mentality.”
As Alan Stein says, “How you do anything is how you do everything.” I agree. Players who don’t practice at “game speed” are not practicing in a manner that will help them perform better in games.
4. Listen with your eyes.
Coaches are teachers and they don’t waste valuable practice time talking about things that are not important. Make eye contact with the coach when he is speaking. Your body language sends out an important message to the coach when he is communicating with you.
5. Leave your comfort zone every practice.
Leave it physically, mentally, and emotionally. If a player won’t get out of his comfort zone, he will not maximize his potential. Only players who are mentally tough enough to get out of their comfort zone will make the progress they desire. A player should be physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted at the end of every practice.
6. Make your enthusiasm contagious.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” He was right. Be positive and let your energy spread to your teammates.
7. Be the “glue guy.”
Every team needs that player that holds the team together when things get tough. Players who are unselfish and put the team ahead of any personal agenda are the types of players who help create a cohesive unit.
8. Value the ball for the entire practice.
Don’t take bad shots and don’t turn it over. Coaches love players who can play without making careless mistakes. Turnovers kill a team’s chances for success, and poor shot selection is just as bad. Practice playing “error free” in drills and scrimmages and it will carry over into games.
This is the 3rd and final installment of Tips For Basketball Parents.
#7 Be Supportive- Don’t Coach
A parent’s role in the parent-coach-athlete team is to support the player. It is necessary to leave the coaching and instruction to the coach. I don’t care how much you think you know about the game, it is not in your son’s best interest to give him coaching advice. Support him, encourage him, help with fund-raisers, etc…. but do not coach. I realize that this is hard for a lot of parents, but it’s probably harder for me than most. I’ve coached for over 20 years, I observe college practices, work basketball camps, I’ve been to more coaching clinics than I can count, I read books, I watch videos, I’ve played college basketball….. its safe to say that I have spent a life-time studying the game of basketball. With that being said, I have come to find out that when my own kids are playing for another coach it works much better for me to support my kid rather than to coach my kid.
#8 Be Truthful, Tactful, and Teach Personal Accountability
As your son gets older and your relationship with him grows, it is important for him to know that his parents will always be truthful with him. He will need somebody who will unconditionally support him but at the same time will be honest with him. I think this is where being tactful comes into play. As the old saying goes, “Sometimes the truth hurts.” When your son comes home and says, “I really stunk tonight”, I don’t think its best for you to respond by saying, “You’re right. You were horrible!” Being brutally honest with him at this point will undoubtedly end up being counter-productive. I think a better option is to steer the conversation toward their effort and the process like I discussed in Tip #2. Also reiterating Tip #4- Teach Perspective, would be helpful at this point of the conversation. I think it is important for kids to hear the truth from their parents, but receiving the truth tactfully and at the appropriate time is just as important. Along the same lines I think it is important to teach Personal Accountability. Blaming one’s failures on somebody else keeps us from reaching our potential. Nobody likes to fail, and it is human nature to look for a scapegoat when we do. When your son starts to blame others for his own failure I think it is imperative to be truthful and tactful in correcting your son’s misguided assessment. Taking responsibility for one’s actions is a necessary step in becoming a responsible adult.
9. Be Team Oriented I once heard a story about long time high school basketball coach, Steve Brett’s mother. Coach Brett won over 450 games in his 36 year career. He had stints at Seymour, Loogootee, Bloomfield, Shakamak, and Vincennes. I asked Coach Brett about the authenticity of this story. While couldn’t confirm it with 100% certainty, he did admit it sounded a lot like his mother. The story dates back to his high school playing days. Coach Brett was quite a player at Loogootee high school where he played for the legendary Jack Butcher. According to the story, on this particular night, Steve had a very good game. He seemed to be scoring from all over the floor and when the final horn sounded the scorebook read that had tallied more than 40 points! But, his Loogootee Lions had come up a point short. On the way out of the gym a well-meaning fan told Steve’s parents, “Steve had a great game, I’m sure you are very proud of him.” Steve’s mother snapped back, “We didn’t come here to watch Steve score 40 points, we came here to watch the Lions win!” Steve’s mother could have easily said “thank you” and moved on, but her response was an effort to do what is hard for many parents- she was putting the team first. I often hear a quote at coaching clinics, “Most parents would rather see their son be “all-state” than be on the team that wins the state.” Sadly, this is all too true for many parents. If parents would be more concerned about their child being a member of the “best team” than being the “best player on the team”, I think it would lead to a greater enjoyment of the basketball experience by both parent and child.
#4 Teach Perspective
Americans are sports fans. We spend an inordinate amount of time traveling to watch live sporting events, and we probably spend more time watching them at home on TV. I think due to all of the exposure we have to professional sports and big time college athletics, we often lose perspective of what sports is all about. Salaries are high, and with that comes a lot of pressure in the professional and college ranks, and that often trickles down to the high school and youth levels. I think we all would benefit by having a little perspective. Winning and losing are not larger than life, and we shouldn’t treat them that way. I’m not saying that the outcome of a game is not important. Anybody who knows me knows that I am as competitive as anyone. In fact, I would go so far to say that I hate losing! But in the end whether you win or lose a game shouldn’t define your value as a person.
#5 Your Son Is Not His Performance- Love Him Unconditionally
The quickest way to damage your relationship with your son is to punish him after a poor performance. Your son needs to know without any reservation that his self-worth and lovability have nothing to do with his performance on the floor. Kids generally feel bad enough after a game where they didn’t play up to their potential. Often times they feel like they have let down their team, their coach, or their parents. After a rough night on the court even some well-meaning constructive criticism from a parent makes the child feel like he isn’t loved as much by the people who are supposed to love him the most. I think it is important for parents to choose their words and their tone carefully after games in which their son didn’t play up to his potential.
#6 Make Sure Your Son’s Goals Are His Goals
I think it is very important to know whether your son is playing basketball because they enjoy it, or is it to please their parents? If you catch yourself saying things like, “our jump shot is too flat”, or “We really need to start driving the ball to the basket more,” when you are really talking specifically about your son- then your son is probably not playing “for himself.” In fact he is probably playing to please you or for your vicarious glory and that leads to nothing but problems in the long term. It is certainly normal for parents to want their son to be as successful as possible, but parents can’t make that happen by pressuring their son to meet their standard of performance. Players must set their own goals and parents need to support them. When the parents expectations on performance level far exceed their son’s, then basketball quits being fun. It’s when a player has his own reasons and his own goals for participating that he grows to love the game and has a much greater chance of achieving his goals.
As I was growing up, the most influential people in my life were my parents and my coaches. It just so happened that my father was also my coach for some of the teams for which I played. I think my decision to get into coaching has a lot to do with the positive experiences I gained from participating in all sorts of sports and the support I received at home. I can honestly say that my parents were excellent “Sports Parents.” We all have seen the “Crazy Sports Parent” and understand how unappealing that can be. I’ll be the first to admit that even with the great role models I had growing up, there still have been a couple times in my life that I was the “Crazy Sports Parent.” I have tried to learn from my mistakes and with that goal in mind, I have read numerous books and articles on the subject. In an effort to help the parents of our basketball players I’ve decided to write my own “Nine Tips For Basketball Parents.” These are a compilation of things that I have read and have learned from both my experiences as kid and a parent. I plan on sharing a these tips over 3 installments, in hopes of allowing you to forgo some of the common mistakes that I see parents (including myself) make with their sons.
#1 Give Your Son The Gift Of Failure
Successful people in sports and life in general, are risk takers who are not afraid to fail. Secondly, when they do fail, they know how to handle failure to make future improvement. It is not enjoyable for parents to see our kids fail, but it’s important for us to realize that fixing all of their failures for them is not going to solve all of their problems. Nobody has ever learned to walk without falling down a few times along the way. It’s the setbacks, the trials and tribulations we experience along the way that sends us the negative feedback necessary to make future improvement. I think it is really important to teach our kids to view their setbacks and mistakes as an opportunity to improve. This positive way of looking at failure will go a long way toward enabling them to become the type of calculated risk taker that will be successful in life.
#2 Stress The Process, Not The Outcome
When an athlete is not performing up to his potential in games, or he “chokes” when the pressure is on, it is usually because that athlete is focused on the outcome of a performance and not the process. All of the great “clutch” athletes are truly “lost in the moment” or too “consumed with the present” to be worried about the outcome. Rather they are totally absorbed in the “here and now” of the actual performance. You know John Wooden never talked about winning with his players. He talked to his players about concentrating on the process and the things his team needed to do well to reach their potential. He realized that if his team would concentrate on the process, then the outcome would take care of itself. I think smart parents will de-emphasize winning with their child and instead stress learning the fundamentals of the game. In the long run, I’m confident that your son will be a more productive athlete.
#3 Avoid Comparisons With Fellow Competitors and Teammates
Parents who are truly supportive of their son will refrain from comparing their son to other athletes as a way of evaluating their progress. Kids develop at different rates, so comparisons often ignore the distorting effects of developmental differences. Some kids are done growing in the 6th grade and are therefore more advanced. Making the mistake of comparing a player who is still physically maturing with a teammate who is already physically mature can only serve to prematurely turn-off an otherwise talented player with a lot of potential. I think athletes are better served when they work on things they can control and stop worrying about things that are outside of their control. I think this tip is closely related to Tip #2- Stress The Process, Not The Outcome.
3 on 3 Youth League
Please see the information below. We passed this out at the free basketball camp, but feel free to make copies if you need to.
We would like to introduce you to an exciting new addition to the youth basketball program. It’s a 3 on 3 league for boys in grades 2-5. Many successful basketball programs around the country are using 3 on 3 leagues as the foundation of their youth basketball programs. 3 on 3 play allows young players to handle the ball more often, play in more space as they develop their skills, and learn basic basketball movements. We hope to use this league as a tool to help transition our players to play in 5 on 5 leagues as they grow in their skills and abilities.
A player’s typical Saturday league session will include 30 minutes of skill development (practice time) and participation in two 20 minute 3 on 3 games. Each team will consist of 4-5 players who will be coached by a volunteer. Players will be guaranteed to play a minimum of half the game. Players will receive a reversible jersey that is to be worn for each game. Cost to participate is $30. Registrations are due Tuesday, September 15. They can be turned in at the elementary.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, spectators will not be allowed in the gym during the 3 on 3 league. Supervision during the league sessions will be provided by each team’s coach as well as the high school staff and players.
This past Saturday was the 22nd Annual Bluejay Basketball Golf Outing. We had 32 teams, great weather, and a whole lot of fun. I have to say that it was an absolutely fantastic day for me, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s event.
It takes a lot of planning and work to pull off a successful golf outing. Quite honestly, Kaden Shepherd and Chris Newbauer did most of the heavy lifting on this endeavor. All the credit for setting up this great day goes to them. When I was named the new coach in May, Kaden and Chris had already laid most of the groundwork for the golf outing. I can’t thank them enough for all the planning and preparation they did.
I have been a part of many golf outings in the past at multiple schools, but the outpouring of support from our sponsors was at a level that I have never witnessed before. Bluejay Basketball supporters are without question 2nd to none! As a new coach I was completely overwhelmed by the generosity displayed by so many businesses and supporters of Bluejay Basketball. Also, a special thank you goes out to Clarence Gehrke. Clarence won the 50/50 raffle and donated his $150 winnings back to the basketball programs!
Throughout the day, I drove around the course and tried to meet as many of the players as I could. I was witness to some great shots and some not so great shots! But overall, nobody did it better than the team from Jachim’s Lawn Care. Team members David Jachim, Nathan Coldiron, Ryne Miller, and Tim Stasiek shot a sizzling 57 (-15) on a very tough course. Also, congratulations to our 2nd and 3rd place finishers. Chris Newbauer, Dalton Bailey, Jake Rietow, and Blake Hoover representing Bailey’s Discount Center finished in 2nd place and Adam Trusty, Seth Attinger, and Nick Miller, of Trusty’s Route 10 finished in third place.
A very special thank you goes out to Francine Shepherd who not only prepared all of the food, but donated it as well! I want to thank Linda and Tony Schumacher, Katrina Harper, Jo Jo Bailey, Kenley Newbauer, and all the boys and girls basketball players who hung out at the course all day to help make this day a huge success. We would never have been able to pull this off without your help!
Saturday August 29th: 8-9:15 am (MS Gym)
Tuesday September 1st: 5-6:15 pm (Elementary Gym)
Saturday September 5th: 8-9:15 am (MS Gym)
Tuesday September 8th: 5-6:15 pm (MS Gym)
Saturday, August 29th 9:30-10:45 am (MS Gym)
Tuesday, September 1st: 6:30-7:45 pm (Elementary Gym)
Saturday, September 5th 9:30-10:45 am (MS Gym)
Tuesday, September 8th 6:30-7:45 pm (MS Gym)