I recently had a conversation with Richard Hardison, a friend and client who has a high sense of awareness when it comes to expectations for his son’s basketball development. He tells it like it is and has an approach that is inspiring to witness. During this conversation on training and game application of the same concepts, he shared with me that the worst thing that happens to a player after practice is that they go home. What is he referring to? The fact that most of the skills a player practices with their trainer or coach are forgotten by the time they wake up the next morning. Therefore, if a team practices twice a week and plays games on the weekend, the coaches often don’t see the translation of the practiced skills into the game because there are multiple days between the practices and the games. During those days the kids have multiple other activities and may even be working with multiple different basketball coaches/trainers who are telling them five different ways to perform the same drill. This is confusing at best. Then we wonder why the player looks confused in the game!
I absolutely encourage players to play multiple sports when they are young (elementary and middle school ages). Therefore, since our kids are usually playing multiple sports, participating in church, tutoring, and other weekly activities, we must give them grace when they don’t remember how to apply everything they were taught. Coaches and parents, we must remember to be VERY PATIENT with the development of novice to intermediate level players. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and remember that they are developing new habits which takes time. Think about the last time you decided to change your eating habits or planned to work out every day. Your previous habits didn’t go away immediately, they changed slowly over time. That’s assuming you actually stick with your plan and don’t revert to your old ways because the new ones are too “hard”. If we give our players this grace, once they are older and turn into more advanced/specialized players, they will choose to practice more often as it will be fun. And we will see the skills they practice show up in games. And isn’t that what youth sports is all about, growth and having fun?