Tough Losses and Bouncing Back in Youth Sports

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Playing sports is an excellent way of getting children involved in the community and learning new skills. Although the games may just be for fun, kids can often get upset when they lose to another team. Although there may be a few tough losses throughout the season, there are ways of helping kids bounce back from the physical and emotional defeat.

Set the Example as the Parent

Youth athletes will ultimately reflect the behavior of their parents and will model what you say and do when they win or lose. Instead of becoming negative and making winning a priority, focus more on the development of their skills rather than how well they perform in a game. If the child is enjoying the sport and is becoming more skilled throughout the process, then it is a successful season.

Create a Routine After the Game

Your post-game routine should remain consistent whether they win or lose to ensure that they understand that winning or losing isn’t as important as enjoying one’s self. Consider going out for celebratory pizza after each game despite the outcome, which can allow the athletes to have something to look forward to, and avoid focusing so much on how they performed on the court.

Offer Encouragement

Make encouragement a priority to ensure that the child understands what they did well during the game and feels better about themselves. Talk more about what they did well, whether they defended the goal or made a shot so that they feel praised and don’t allow their mood to be influenced by the outcome of the game. In the same regard, you can discuss what they can improve on in the future to allow them to continue to develop their skills.

Avoid Making Their Athletic Ability Their Identity

Many parents make the mistake of making their child’s athletic performance their identity, which can affect the child’s view of themselves, harming their self esteem and putting too much pressure on them during games. Remind them that failing is a part of life and that they are skilled athletes despite how well they may have performed in the game. Don’t place so much emphasis on how many points were scored or plays they made. Focus more on their characteristics and who they are as a person.


Easy Ways to Improve Your Ball Handling Skills

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Becoming a proficient basketball player requires time dedicated to practice. That is no secret and should not be news to anyone. Developing basic skills and fundamentals is the foundation of a talented basketball player, and ball handling is one of the most important.

Dribbling and ball handling are two of the most basic skills needed in order to successfully perform the others within the sport. Basketball is a fast-paced game with various situations that require players to protect, pass, and shoot the ball efficiently. Poor handling skills will only result in turnovers and missed opportunities. In order to avoid this, the following are just some of many ways players can improve their dribbling and ball handling.

Fingertip Exercises

Dribbling involves controlling the ball with your fingers, pads, and palms of your hands. Your fingertips come into play when you are getting ready to shoot or dribbling on the run. Therefore, drills and exercises involving this dribbling strategy are highly effective in developing players’ overall ball handling. Try those that incorporate quick movements with quick dribbling. This will help players grow more comfortable when driving to the basket, passing through open lanes, and preparing for open shots.

Dribble Stronger

Simply dribbling the ball harder forces it to return to your hand faster, which, in turn, gives you more control. This is also essential in learning how to dribble while keeping one’s head up. Players cannot effectively play the court if they are constantly looking down at the ball. Dribbling stronger and pushing the ball down with more force allows it to return quickly, allowing players to keep their eyes forward.

Dribble Low

A similar principle to dribbling harder, dribbling at a lower position limits the area in which the ball can move, allowing for more control. Apply this strategy on the court, and opponents will have a much harder time trying to steal the ball away. Drills that incorporate low dribbling can not only develop better ball handling skills, but also the ability to go from stand-still positions to short bursts of speed.

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Repetition breeds success. As we all know, practice makes perfect. Performing these practices and exercises over and over again will only result in improved skills. No matter how basic the drill, have your players repeat these exercises for extended periods of time until they become second nature movements. Very rarely will flash on the court be an advantage over comfortability.


Connecting Youth Basketball with the NBA

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The NBA is bolstering its commitment to youth and basketball with innovative strategies to improve and increase youth involvement. The most recent high-profile effort was the league’s first Jr. NBA World Championship held in early August 2018 in Orlando. This tournament featured girls and boys divisions with American and international teams. The NBA secured an agreement with FOX Sports to cover the event for three years. The tournament is evidence of the league’s amped-up approach to youth sports under the guidance of Commissioner Adam Silver, an outspoken proponent of the NBA’s increased involvement in grass-roots basketball.

The 2017 Simmons National Consumer Study found that basketball is the leading team sport among American youth with over 20 million children participating. As the numbers continue to grow, the Jr. NBA program demonstrates the NBA’s focus on enhancing the basketball experience for young athletes, coaches, and parents. While the league has always implemented programs for children to connect with them and help them learn the game correctly, it has stepped up its efforts to ensure that everyone involved in youth basketball is having the most positive experience possible.

The NBA has collaborated with USA Basketball to draft rules and health standards for encouraging participation and making the game more attractive to youth. Currently, about 26 million youth around the world are playing in the Jr. NBA program, and more are anticipated to join. The league is not working to replace AAU and other youth travel sport programs; it hopes to partner with those groups to cultivate and protect the kids who play sports. The NBA is striving to provide guidance and improve the caliber of coaching.

In May 2018, the NBA held a Jr. NBA leadership summit in Chicago with over 300 attendees that included NBA team representatives along with tournament and program directors from many youth basketball associations. The meetings addressed management challenges such as building better programs, developing best practices, and ensuring that the USAB and NBA guidelines are applied properly. Participants also discussed and learned about running practices with excellence and managing issues that impact children regarding wellness.

The NBA is increasing efforts to connect with pre-collegiate basketball as well. Considering the league’s recent strides in youth basketball, it will be no surprise if the NBA employs the same methods to the higher, elite levels of youth basketball. The league is currently involved in intense discussions with the NCAA and other influential figures to determine what more can be accomplished there.


Understanding Different Age Groups When Coaching

The job of a coach is simple: allow the players to learn the basic, fundamental aspects of the game while improving their individual weaknesses and capitalizing on their strengths. How the coach does that is up to them, but the process changes dramatically depending on the ages of the players they are coaching.


7-10 Years

The game is still relatively new to children in this age bracket, so it’s important to focus on learning the basic techniques that a coach will be able to build on later. In basketball, for instance, the coach should focus on teaching correct shooting form, ball handling, passing, and defensive techniques. For baseball, coaches should focus on footwork on infield drills and batting stances. As the students progress through the ranks, they should still revisit these basic instructions periodically just to refresh their memory on how it should be played.

10-12 Years

Kids are more advanced by this stage, and will most likely have the basic skills necessary to play the game, no matter what it is. From here, coaches should emphasize more streamlined versions of their game, such as cuts and one-footed layups (in basketball) and directional bunting (for baseball). Also, strategic maneuvers and situational awareness should be implemented as well to allow the player to begin to see the game from a high-level position.

12-14 Years

Scrimmages are a great teaching tool at this stage to allow the students to get the most real-world experiences playing the game. Furthermore, the game should also be practiced at a quicker pace and under more direct pressure. When coaching basketball, teach the basics of screening and when to implement them, as well as different types of passes and coordinating plays in the face of a stiff defense. Never forget to revisit some of the more basic forms that the student learned in their earlier years, especially if their form begins to get sloppy.

The job of a coach is never done. There will always be something to build on and something to teach, so make sure that, as a coach, you are discerning in your approach to the player. Within these groups are individuals that will play either above or below their level, so it’s vital that you spend individualized time with them as well to maximize their efforts.

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What to Expect From Your Team Captain

Serving as a team captain in the sport of basketball comes with a variety of responsibilities outside of simply playing the game. Successful team captains must devote time to becoming a leader, putting in hard work every day. They must have a desire to be seen as a positive figure on the team, both on and off the court, and be able to effectively guide their teammates to success. The following traits and abilities are just some of many that every team captain should possess.


Captains must be able to motivate their teammates at all times. Whether the team is on the verge of a late-game comeback, losing by a large margin, or just slowing down in general, team captains should interject and inspire their teammates to give 100% of their efforts. At times, this may require a little bit of aggression if mistakes begin to pile up and emotions begin to rise. That being said, a strong-willed individual who is able to recover from any negative situation is a well-suited player to take on the role of captain.

Precisely how team captains intend to motivate fellow players may differ. There is not necessarily a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to do so. For example, some captains may bring more aggressive temperaments to the table, while others can be calm and collective and still find success in a leadership position. The main concern is whether or not this player actually wants to serve as team captain. Should they possess the drive and willingness to become that, their means of execution matter little.


While all players and coaches should be respectful of athletes and peers, team captains must exude this characteristic. These leaders must understand the role that every coach and athlete plays in the success of their team, and to never undermine someone in a position that may be considered “below” theirs. Captains should respect every one of their teammates skill sets and what they bring to the court, as well as their roles off the court.

Additionally, team captains should be respectful of their opponents, the fans (family members and general supporters), and the officials as well. They serve as representatives of their team and must act accordingly in order to display a professional, yet competitive nature.

Role Model

Not unlike being an effective motivator, serving as a role model to fellow players allow them to follow in the captain’s footsteps, which, in turn, creates positive relationships. Teammates work together to achieve their goals when the team’s captain is one that others look up to. Consistency in this sense is therefore absolutely crucial. Team captains should be respectful, kind, and inspiring both on and off the court.

Team captains have to be your hardest workers, along with your best players. People tend to follow those who have a work ethic unmatched. When teammates see the leaders working, it makes it easier for them to receive what a captain may say to them. Also, those with a great work ethic don’t have to do a lot of talking. Their example becomes their voice.

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