Now that basketball season is well underway I thought I would provide some in-season tips for keeping your young player motivated. Take your favorites from the list and share them with players, coaches, and parents.
I’ve written about why setting goals are important for young basketball players here but it is worth repeating. You wouldn’t set out on a trip without a map, so don’t go through your basketball season/training without goals.. There is psychological research that proves that when you write down your goal you are more likely to achieve it. Taking the time to write strengthens the connections in your mind. I wrote down my daily training/play in a journal when I was a kid working on my game. I played and practiced because I loved it. The journal helped me keep tabs on my progress. Help your young player find a tracking/goal setting system that works for them. New technology like the ShotTracker and 94fifty ball can track results over time using a phone or tablet plus the accompanying app.
Your young player cannot control their opponents, their coach, the refs, the crowd or other external factors. All that they can control is their attitude and effort. Encourage them to bring their best every day.
Sports teach no greater life skill than perseverance. There are going to be injuries, slumps, heartbreak and frustration in your young player’s basketball career. Teach them to persevere in the face of a challenge. The ability to push through the tough times makes the successes feel even better.
There is a 100% chance that your young player will fail on the road to achieving their goal. In fact, if they are not failing then they are not challenging themselves enough. There will be bad practices and tough losses. Your young player then has the opportunity to learn from these experiences. Anything that is worth achieving in the game of basketball, or in life is not going to be easy. Learning new skills, making a team, winning a championship all require hard work and hard work often entails failure. The best athletes, business leaders, and entrepreneurs are those that have failed many times, but are willing to get back up and try again.
Your young player should not spend time at practice with teammates who are not working hard, are whining or have a bad attitude. These negatives will rub off on your young player. Conversely, if your young player is a hard worker with a positive attitude, they will help set the tone for their teammates.
Help your young player hear the constructive criticism of their coaches. If they play poorly, don’t let them make excuses or blame someone else. Help your young player take responsibility for their actions. Don’t allow yourself as a parent to blame the coach, or teammates, or the referees when things don’t go your child’s way. That just gives them permission to make the same excuses. Excuses don’t help anyone get better. Remember, putting your ego aside, getting out of your comfort zone, and not being afraid to make mistakes is how real improvement takes place.
Encourage your young player to keep working hard and look for ways to get better in every practice. Just because they played well and won their last game there is no guarantee that success will continue. The humbling thing about sports is there is no achievement of perfection, only the quest for perfection. As a result, even when your young player is playing well, there is always something they can do to get better.
Everyone is on his or her own path. Players develop at their own pace, especially at younger ages. Another player’s success is not your child’s failure. Don’t allow your young player to be jealous of a teammate’s role on the team or how skilled they are. Instead, use the success of others to inspire your young player and motivate them to work harder.
Successful people are successful because they are willing to do the things unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Work hard on the right things—deliberate practice—and success will take care of itself. Teach your young player to believe in the process. Learning to play the right way isn’t easy, but the rewards are great.
There is a ton of hard work to put in if your young player is going to develop into a good basketball. Those players that are most successful are the ones that love the game. They love to practice, train, and compete. That love of the game must come from your child, not from you. If they don’t love it they’ll never practice or play enough to be great.