The Problem with Youth Basketball - Stan Van Gundy

Posted on: December 14, 2014
This is a great message about teaching skills at the youth level from Stan Van Gundy, current coach of the Detroit Pistons. He also coached Orlando Magic for a number of years and took them to the NBA finals. This message is aimed at those coaches who focus too much on winning games rather than teaching skills. 

-By Joe Haefner - Breakthrough Basketball

In the Video below, Stan Van Gundy, the, then, head coach of the NBA's Orlando Magic really hits the nail on the head in regards to some of the big problems in the youth basketball system. 



 


"The youth basketball system has become flawed" says Van Gundy, "because some coaches and parents judge whether they've had a successful season based on wins and losses rather than if the players have improved and actually enjoy the game. Without skill development and enjoyment of playing the game, players will never succeed at the higher levels of basketball because they won't be good enough and/or they won't want to practice.

"You could almost grab any group of kids with average athleticism, play a 1-3-1 half court trap, work on lay ups and offensive rebounding, and you'll win a high percentage of your games against similar competition. I can guarantee that. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out and it doesn't take a good coach to do that. I can also guarantee that they won't develop the necessary basketball skills to be successful at the higher levels. I can't count the number of players that I've coached at the high school level that lacked the necessary basketball fundamentals and struggled to pivot, dribble, pass, and shoot. Not to mention, all of the terrible defensive habits players learned by using poor defensive fundamentals (swarming the ball, constantly lunging out of position) that allowed them to force turnovers, but won't work at the higher levels."

Stan also mentions an important concept of having different ball handlers. Many coaches don't realize it, but to improve a player's ball skills, all players need to be touching and handling the ball during games. If the tallest player stands under the hoop and never handles the ball on the outside, he or she is never going to improve the necessary skills to become a good player. As Stan says, "that's why we don't have more 6'8 guys who can shoot, pass, and dribble."

Since strength and coordination restricts the amount of development you can do with shooting for kids generally under the age of 12, you should spend a high percentage of your time improving ball-handling, footwork, passing (passing is even somewhat restricted), and coordination.

The Most Important Aspect of Youth Sports

Something not mentioned in the video, but it is probably the most important aspect of youth sports, are the kids having fun?!? If the kids are not having fun, why would they ever want to participate in the sport as they get older?

According to the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports by Michigan State, the top two reasons that kids quit sports is because it's not fun anymore and they are no longer interested.

Top 10 Reasons For Boys:

  • I was no longer interested.
  • It was no longer fun.
  • The sport took too much time.
  • The coach played favourites.
  • The coach was a poor teacher.
  • I was tired of playing.
  • There was too much emphasis on winning.
  • I wanted to participate in other non-sport activities.
  • I needed more time to study.
  • There was too much pressure.

Top 10 Reasons For Girls:

  • I was no longer interested.
  • It was no longer fun.
  • I needed more time to study.
  • There was too much pressure.
  • The coach was a poor teacher.
  • I wanted to participate in other non-sport activities.
  • The sport took too much time.
  • The coach played favourites.
  • I was tired of playing.
  • Games and practices were scheduled when I could not attend.

Our youth basketball systems can definitely be improved and we all need to put in an effort to help make that happen. Our focus should be on needs of the children, not the adults need to win. Our focus needs to be on making this game more enjoyable.

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The Tri-City Youth Basketball Association (TCYBA) was formed in 1999 and is a registered, volunteer-driven, not-for-profit that serves the youth of Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody (Tri-Cities) and surrounding areas in British Columbia, Canada. Currently we have well over 2000 players, from Kindergarten to grade 12, playing in various divisions including both competetive and recreational play. Open to both boys and girls, the club operates out of school gyms across the Tri-City area and strives to ensure all youth that want to enjoy the sport have an opportunity to participate

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