Watching a parent scream and shout at their child during a U12 basketball game is disturbing.
The amount that a parent pushes their child has no weight on whether they will become a great player one day. This article will argue that exact point and give you some great insight on the best way for parents to help their child succeed in basketball.
I’ve seen one or two very talented young players in the past who definitely had the chance to play in the NBA. If they would have had the right guidance, I’m confident they would have made it happen — but they never even got close. Matter of fact, they never even excelled in college. One ended up being mediocre college player and the other ended up quitting after one season in college due to one simple fact.
They never loved the game.
That’s the problem with pushing your child too early. It’s not that they will burn-out. It’s just that after a while they will associate basketball with work and not with fun. They are the one’s that have to want to be in the gym working on their game, not you.
Parents can’t train and push their child for their entire life. If your child associates basketball as work, as soon as you’re no longer around to make them work…they won’t. Self motivation is the key here.
“But how do you get your lazy 14 year old off the video games and into the gym?”
You make him or her fall in love with the game at a young age.
If you can do that then your child will not only want to excel but they will do it all by themselves. Of course they will need guidance at some point to know the logistics of improvement such as what ball handling drills and basketball shooting drills they will need, but that’s the easy part.
I played basketball my entire life. I love to play. Do I love running line drills, defensive slides, and everything else that comes with being an elite player? No, but I love to play which basically means that I love to compete. Therefore, when I play…I want to play well. As a young player I knew that I would have to put in the work if I wanted to continue to play at a higher level. So that’s exactly what I did despite my parents never telling me one single time I needed to go to the gym. Never did my mom or dad yell something at me, my coach, or even the ref one single time in my entire basketball career. By the way, I’m 28 years old and am writing this from my apartment in Europe. I’m playing my sixth season overseas as a professional player overseas. I’ve been loving the game since I played my first game at age 7.
So what’s the exact formula to pushing your child in the right direction? How do you get them to fall in love with basketball?
You let them play without coaches, refs, and most importantly without pressure. This is also called “free play.”
This philosophy is called, “The Early Engagement Path.”
This is a path that is followed by many south american countries in the sport of soccer, and what we’ve seen is that this path has developed some of the greatest soccer players in the world today such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
These players grew up just playing the game with local friends in a streetball type atmosphere. What this does is it allows them to play fearlessly, freely, and allows them to make mistakes. It is structured for fun, and not winning. These kids can play for hours, not win a single game and when you ask them how they liked it, they will say they had a blast.
But most importantly this builds that intrinsic motivation to play the game. If we want our children to ever become elite players we first have to build up that love for the game. Free play is the best way to do that and in fact will lead to self-motivated, life-long players of the game.