In Part 1 of my three part series on Improving Youth Basketball, I covered some guidelines for Parents of young players. This article will next focus on what we can do to help Coaches become better and more respected by those parents and their young players.
Part 2 – How We Can Develop More and Better Coaches
In my travels around the United States and other parts of the world doing clinics, I came up with some interesting discoveries.
- We have many fine coaches and trainers in the United States, but the highest percentage are at the upper levels of our basketball system.
2. Other countries have far less high-level basketball compared to the United States, so that’s why foreigners seek our colleges and the NBA for top competition.
3. However, when it comes to the youth level, many countries seem to do a much better job of organizing their youth training, educating their coaches, and teaching the fundamentals to their players.
I believe it is time for us to take a hard look at what we are doing in the USA and consider doing more teaching and less fleecing. This starts with a better organization for training and educating our Coaches, and less emphasis on trying to make everything a money-making business opportunity.
It would be nice if USA Basketball would be the governing body and overseer of our Youth Basketball Programs in America. I’m talking about putting AAU, High School, and younger recreation players under the same umbrella. Set up the guidelines by age group for training our players so coaches have a model to follow. Provide clinics, on court training, and testing for coaches at all levels. Have coaches earn a certificate of expertise for various levels, from beginning youth through the high school and AAU programs.
We could have something with 5 levels, each a little more challenging to obtain. Any prospective coach would have to obtain the certification level he seeks to coach at, but he could also work to qualify for higher levels. Some suggestions for these certifications:
- Community – recreational level teams, beginners.
- Club – AAU teams and other youth travel teams under 12.
- Competitive – high school teams, upper level AAU teams.
- Collegiate – higher level performance teams and National Teams.
- Master – successful, experienced higher level coach and mentor.
Community Youth Leagues and recreational basketball programs should not only provide training for players, but coaches too. This would lead to a Level 1 Certification for new, volunteer coaches. Before even one practice is allowed, all coaches should be trained and tested in the basics of coaching basketball. A league or program director can lead the sessions or an outside coach can be hired to come in and provide coach and player training before any league games start.
Each step after the first (Community), would have an experience level written into it. The idea is to get well-educated, qualified coaches at each step according to an outlined structure. This would also seek to find a common ground for AAU and High School Coaches to work with players on a more directed path. Cooperation between all levels in seeking what is best for all players is the goal.
Anyone claiming to be a Trainer of basketball players should also have a coaching certificate at the level of the players they intend to instruct. Parents and players can then confidently know the person they are hiring for training is qualified and certified as a coach with the same qualifications as the player’s team or club coach.
Most basketball coaches want to know the preferred methods and standards to teach. Too many are just left to come up with this knowledge on their own or they ignore it all together. In order to have a better Player Development System, we need direction and education at all levels. We need to get away from Dad coaching “little Johnnie’s” team just so “little Johnny” gets to play a lot and shoot a lot. “Little Johnny” needs to develop as a total player, and so do his teammates. That’s what makes basketball better.
Club teams need to spend more time teaching skills and teamwork, and less time traveling to distant cities for the purpose of playing several games a weekend. High school teams need to be coordinated with AAU programs and teach the same basic fundamentals. Both programs are good for players as long as coaches don’t fight over gym time and commitment from the participating players.
Certification will help educate our coaches and players to a higher level. It will also give a basis for coaches who want to move up to the next levels of coaching in the future. We already have a great game. We can certainly make it better with better coaching and training.
In Part 3 of this series, I will take a look at what we can do for our young players to improve basketball in the USA.
Note: Your comments and discussions on this subject and article are encouraged and welcomed. What other things can we do to make the basketball experience better for our Coaches?