Today I have a message for grammar school parents and kids. I pray you will listen if you truly love out game and hope to play for years. You will hear many opinions and get lots advice over the years. You will hear all the standard lines to gain your trust. I don’t have to tell you them. In most cases this will be your first time going though this basketball journey. You will have many up and downs. It will include tears of joy and sadness. You’re going to make many friends and lose many friends along the way… this I promise you. It will seem like the end of the world at the time but it’s not. It’s just part of the journey. So today I will try to tell how to make that journey a little more enjoyable.

It’s take a village to make a good player. That statement is just another catch line. What it takes is a kid with a passion and love for the game. That’s because there are some really bad villages out there. There are a 100 ways to skin a cat. Well basketball is not a cat and there is only one way. Work hard and have fun. Becoming a good basketball player and having a good experience go hand in hand. I honestly believe too much organized  basketball is not good for a kid’s development. I believe allowing a kid to use their imagination and creativity is the key to success. But if all they get is an education from folks who never played or had little success, that’s who they become.

I beg you to stop worrying about the future. Stop worrying about high school, stop worrying about college. And above all stop worrying about winning meaningless games. There are AAU and grammar school coaches who get their identify from youth basketball at your kids expense. Let your child focus on getting better. Learning the game. Enjoying  relationships with friends . Winning a grammar school game means zero. Being on the best grammar school team means nothing. Justine Pissott the  #9 ranked player in the country and Sophia Sabino one of the most recruited guards on the east coast won exactly 1 game as 4th and 5th graders. Marlboro wins the Mid Monmouth title every year and guess what? I bet you can’t name a player from Marlboro. Winning grammar school games is not important to your future. That’s an ego thing and can get you and  your child in trouble.

I strongly urge you to let your child play multiple sports. I promise you, the best players I have coached at every level played multiple sports when they were young. It also gives your child an entire group of new friends as well. More importantly your child is not be overdosed on basketball. No child should be practicing with a team 3-4 days a week during the school year. This is beyond “DUMB” and tells me there coaches are either inexperienced or were not very good players themselves or they would know better.

Kids I know you want to play. Everyone loves to play. But I beg you to understand. Becoming more skilled is way more important. Please play for your school team. Don’t be so arrogant to believe you’re too good for your school team please play for your town team. It goes to learning how to work with your peers. In some cases it will be the last time you play with many of them. The memories will run deep. Please don’t listen to those telling you it’s a waste of time or you need to focus on better competition. Those two hours playing with friends is not going to interrupt  your future. You probably home watching TV anyway. It’s just folks controlling you and making you think you’re something you’re not… more important!!!

Here is a dirty little secret. There are not a ton of competition at your age. You will play a competitive game once every 10 games. When you play up and get blown out your friends, parents and coaches will scream you’re young. When you beat a weak older team they will brag how  young and talented you are to anyone listening . Bragging goes on a lot at your age. I can honestly say I have coached some of the best players ever. All played for their middle school and town teams and would do over again in a second. Many believe it was their best basketball experience. Don’t let adults make you feel special because you’re not playing Mid Monmouth for example. You’re not special, you just listening to the wrong people. Those with a spotty track record of success long term.

Finally I run the most competitive basketball program in the state. I have coached more college players than everyone combined. Yet, I don’t let grammar school kids come to NBS. Without my permission. Then It’s only because I truly know the kid and their personality. Why? Because it’s too intense of an environment and not a good environment for kids just learning the game or who are not fully confident yet… regardless of how good they are. Kids need to train but I believe not with many different trainers. I think at that age too many philosophies are not a good thing. There is plenty of time for that down the road.

In the end kids and parents, I say slow your roll . Let your kids build their skills set, confidence, self esteem and have fun. When they get older, then maybe you turn up the heat and take things to another level. But for now enjoy the journey it can be a good one!

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