Marketing and skill development in youth basketball

The most common marketing tactic in youth basketball is to point to a talented player and attribute his or her skill and success to the one thing that the coach/trainer/entrepreneur is marketing. It works. People prefer simple explanations to the true complexity of talent/skill development, and ascribing one’s success to a single factor creates a simple, easy-to-digest explanation. Read more

What’s wrong with being elite?

Originally published in Los Angeles Sports & Fitness, March/April 2013.

During my first season as a college basketball coach, I worked with a player named Matt. The head coach nearly cut Matt on the first day of fall workouts, but he was roommates with his #1 recruit, and he looked like a basketball player when he walked in the gym, so he survived. However, he started the season as the 4th-string point guard, and the head coach wanted to redshirt him, as he could not envision him playing. Read more

Elite Athletes Build Broad-Based Foundations

Originally published in Los Angeles Sports & Fitness, September 2012.

While in Paris, I marveled at the subway system. In the United States, as cities on the west coast attempt to develop subway systems, local governments are caught in a network dilemma: A network improves as more people join the network, but local governments cannot justify the expense to expand without more users. In Paris, subway lines crisscross the city: There was no place that was not easily accessible through the subway and a short walk. This is a mature network; as more people use a particular line, more trains are added, and the line improves in quality and speed. In Los Angeles, the problem with the subway is that the lines do not crisscross the city: Plenty of locations are completely inaccessible by the subway. Due to the inaccessibility, fewer people use the subway; however, to build the additional lines, there has to be a demand: It’s a catch-22.  Read more

Athletic genius: An argument for the intelligence of athletic gifts

Originally published in Los Angeles Sports & Fitness, May/June 2012.

As a child, my parents emphasized the importance of academics, like most responsible parents. They encouraged my sports participation, but if I had to sacrifice one for the other, it was clear that athletics would be sacrificed for academics. Throughout high school, I was reminded by every adult in my sphere of influence that I was not going to be a professional athlete. The implication was that my G.P.A. was far more important than recreational pursuits. This is a fairly common story, and many of the young children that I coach have been indoctrinated with this belief. We have this idea that G.P.A. equals intelligence and a good future, while playing games is trivial. Athletes rarely are considered intellectual geniuses.  Read more

Creating Engagement through Seven Principles of Video Games

Parents, coaches, and educators loathe video games for the very reason that makes video games successful: Video-game makers know how to engage children (and adults). They study the best ways to engage users and tweak games to make the games more engaging. Rather than complain about video games, educators, coaches, and league administrators should attempt to learn from the games, as I have written previously, because video games offer some positives for youth development. Read more

How to Tell a Winner from a Loser

Note: I have had this file on my computer for over a decade. Not sure where it originated, but things for each team and player to think about.

  1. When a winner makes a mistake, he says “my fault”; when a loser makes a mistake, he throws the blame on someone else. Read more

Video-game positives for youth development

Parents, teachers and coaches blame video games for most of society’s ills. This is lazy. Rather than blame video games, we should learn from video-game makers: Obviously, they are doing something right! Read more

Quit! You Might Improve

Originally published in Los Angeles Sports & Fitness, July/August 2011.

I recently started jiujitsu. In the fall, I tried Pilates. Last year, I bought a paddleboard and started paddleboarding. The winter before that, I taught myself to swim. Before that, I tried boxing and kick boxing. I am, to use the description of George Leonard in Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment, a Dabbler. I enjoy the newness of an activity. I enjoy learning. However, once the newness of an activity wears off, I move on. Once I reach an acceptable level of learning, which for me is far from mastery, I try something new.  Read more

Is vilifying the winners in youth sports creating a nation of wimps?

Originally published in Los Angeles Sports & Fitness, March 2011.

Saturday was the best day of the week when I was young because it was game day. In the era before never-ending sports schedules, game day had meaning. In soccer, our season lasted about 12 weeks with games on 10 consecutive Saturdays. In basketball, we played our games on Saturday mornings with the exception of 2-3 tournaments which included Sunday games. In Little League, we played one night per week and a second game on Saturday. I spent the entire week waiting for Saturday, for the chance to play the game. Read more

The Myth of Tiger Woods and its Impact on Talent Development

People often cite Tiger Woods as Example A in their support of early specialization. People are fascinated by the stories of Tiger hitting golf balls on the range when he was two-years-old and the images of him on TV.

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  • What Is A Playmaker?

    Who decided that a point guard has to be small? More importantly, what is a point guard? We expect a point guard to be a leader and have a high basketball I.Q. Why don’t we expect or challenge all players to develop this game awareness? Why rely on only one player? Read more →
  • The PBDL Concept

    English soccer academies wait until players are 11 to play full 11v11 soccer; in Italy, youth basketball players participate in skill-oriented clinics at 6-years-old, but start competitive games at 12. In the United States, kids play 5v5 full court games and compete for national championships when they are 8-years-old.

    Read more →

  • Starting A PBDL

    The PBDL emphasizes learning and development. Presently, players and parents have numerous recreation options - leagues based on fun and equal participation, typically for beginners - and numerous competitive opportunities - teams focused on strategy, game preparation and winning. There are few true development leagues - until now.

    Read more →