Do you ever sit down and wonder what our job is as youth basketball coaches? To teach them the basics, right? How to dribble, how to shoot, how to pass, some basic offensive and defensive rules. Did I miss anything…? Yes, I missed out a lot.
Our job, first of all, is to teach them how to be humans. How to work together as a team, how to respect a leader, how to follow the rules and why it’s important to have these rules, both inside the gym, and outside of it. Kids look at us as role models, so we have to behave like it. We need to be someone who inspires them, someone who builds up their confidence, someone they can trust and someone they believe will have their back no matter what. We become more than their coach, we become a family figure. And we have to act like it. Our job with these kids doesn’t end when the practice is over. If you think that, you already failed.
Basketball is important, but basketball is not forever, and we must remember that for the sake of the kids who enter our gym everyday. In 20 years from now they might not remember how to shoot perfectly, but they will remember how after they won a game, you lifted them up and cried happy tears with them. A close friend once told me “kids don’t always remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel, so make them feel good” and for me that is the most important thing. To have these kids remember how much I cared about them, and how much fun they had when they were playing basketball.
Spend more time outside the gym with them. Take your team to lunch, take them to the park and teach them how to roller skate, take them to a yoga class at your local gym. Be creative, think outside the box. Every new experience for them is a win for the team. Especially with young players. It will help them learn more about themselves and about what their body can do. It will help your team get better. Don’t run away from challenges, they help you improve.
Not everything has to be about basketball, but it must always be about helping them become the best person they can be. Don’t think small, don’t think that because you are a basketball coach that is all you have to offer to those kids.