Teaching is an abstract art. As a teacher one must enter the mind of one’s student with the intent to engage. A teacher must engage ones student in the process of absorbing, understanding, applying, and then retaining new knowledge. It is said that it takes the average human 21 days to create a new, repetitive behavior. It takes 30 days to make the habit part of one’s everyday life.
In games of physical sports the mind and the body must come together to take the knowledge given by a teacher to a new level. Not only does the basketball student have to incorporate their cerebral cortex but also their body in the learning of new concepts to master the game. The athlete must transcend the mind to bring to the court physical performance. In regular classroom settings, students learn concepts and facts that they may never use in their day to day living. Special techniques are required to take concepts from the chalkboard to the court.
The magic happens when coaches spark the desire of the athlete to use their bodies to perform the mental pictures and concepts in their minds during the heat of competition. It may be difficult to explain to the athlete that one must use ones instincts about one’s body, to learn one’s body, in order to become a phenomenal player. Concepts like power from the legs, concentration, focus, adrenaline, may not be at first easy for the young athlete to understand. Mature athletes will say that the best teacher they ever had was experience. This is where the concepts of teaching come in to assist a coach in helping their young athlete learn while they gain that experience. When creating your lesson plan on how to train a basketball player keep these basic concepts in mind.
- Begin teaching by using clear language. Make sure that you explain basic concepts of basketball. Do not assume that all players have come with the same experience. Teach what you want to be known on your court.
- Break concepts down into basic components. Do not teach offense and defense in the same day. Separate your concepts. Create a curriculum where you build on knowledge day by day. Use only words and visual aides to explain the concepts. Do not bring the physical side of the concept into the lecture.
- Allow for your students to ask questions and to take notes. Sometimes athletes are not taught to incorporate things like literature and note taking in their game but it is important for their development. Athletes are intelligent and should view themselves as using their brains while playing. Reading books on your topics and concepts is also a good idea for the development of your athlete.
- Watch videos of examples of the concepts that you are teaching.
- Explain that mistakes are made while learning new concepts and that is how growth and progress are gained. Encourage the student to practice their skills daily.
- Once your concepts have been introduced and the student athlete has learned the basic form to be used begin the court drills or exercises with a game. Make up games for the student athlete that will bond them with their peers. If for instance you are teaching the concept of offense you can play a game of hot potato with the basketball. If you are teaching the concept of free throws, after the youth athlete releases the ball into the air throw them a small piece of candy. If they catch it they can eat it. If they make the free throw then they get a second piece for doing an excellent job. For the youth athlete it will build self-esteem. Be creative in your curriculum.
- There are many ways to introduce concepts to your youth athlete. If you make the learning part of the game fun and memorable it will encourage the youth athlete to not only practice, but also to relax. This will enhance their overall game
- Give constructive criticism in a kind, gentle way. Explain concepts like discipline early on and help the youth athlete to achieve small goals as they learn new concepts.
- Have your youth athletes keep journals where they can keep their notes on concepts and questions or concerns. Go over their journals with them once a week and respond to their needs accordingly. Let your student athlete know that you are there for them.
Photo credit: johntrainor