Dealing with youths is slightly different then dealing with a professional lot of players. Youths are fresh to the game, and while they are still competitive, they are more playing the game to make friends, be with friends, or because it’s something to do. Very rarely are youth in a league to take their team to the championship, or to go undefeated. They are there to blow off steam and have fun. Coaches need to nurture this while teaching the basics of the game without attempting to force the competitive side of the game.
Kids are a fresh piece of clay, and while some will not go on to play basketball past youth leagues, or professionally, the way they are treated in all aspects will shape the future person they become. While a coach is there to help teach them the game of basketball, a coach also helps parents in teaching them positive habits and attitudes, and developing them. One thing that gets focused on early is teamwork. Teamwork is one of the most important aspects of the game, and isn’t exclusive to just basketball. All sports require a certain amount of teamwork, and it is very easy to develop both on and off the court.
Taking your team out for fun activities to build bonds is a great place to start. Teams that bond together will play better together because they will have each other’s backs at all times. This is a crucial key element as a team that cannot function together off the court, would not be able to function together on the court.
Getting the kids into a set routine of warm-ups and drills will be crucial to cracking that first game successfully. Whether or not the game is won or lost, your players will feel good about their performance, and over the length of a season their growth can be measured, and they will have something to be proud of.
Setting goals for the kids is another way to prepare them for their first game. It allows them to feel the game day pressure without being unbearable. Coaches also need to be understanding in the way of development because not every single kid develops at the exact same pace.
One of the most important jobs of the coach is to identify his kid’s strengths and weaknesses, help them improve the weaknesses and play to their strengths. Never put a kid into a situation that will make them feel that they are letting their team down, because that will destroy the fun they would be having.
While a lot of people like to push competition at all levels, and healthy competition never hurt anyone, you like to push the spirit of the game and teamwork. Imprinting important and key life lessons is one of the joys of the job as coach. Your success is measured each and every time your kids step out onto that court, and win, or lose, you know they truly enjoyed the game. That’s what really matters.