Young basketball players today play more games and participate in more organized training sessions than ever before. It is not uncommon for kids today to play anywhere from 40 – 60 games over the course of the travel and AAU basketball seasons. High school players might play even more. How do you help your young player avoid burnout and keep them motivated on days they don’t feel like going to the gym and working on their game?
Remember that the desire to be a great player has to come from your child not from you. You introduce them to the sport and provide opportunities for them in the game. Certainly, they may need a nudge or two from you along the way, but ultimately their love of the game will determine whether or not they put in the time that is required to be a successful player. Don’t try to live vicariously through your child and don’t compete with other adults using your child’s athletic success. It is your young player’s journey, not yours. Be there to offer support and guidance where necessary, but don’t force it. You’ll only drive your child away from the game.
The game has to be fun for kids. If it’s not, they won’t want to play or practice. Playing and training should be fun. Basketball is a game! Be sure to incorporate some fun into your young player’s basketball experience. For too many adults, basketball has become serious business. Parents and coaches feel that pressure and pass it on to kids at younger and younger ages. Don’t give in to pressure.
Coaches have to be sure to incorporate fun games and challenges into their practices. I’m all for hard work, but you can be intense and have fun too!
Encourage players to keep records and try to beat themselves or imagine sinking the game winning shot, complete with the announcer’s call or emulate their favorite player’s moves. Anything that adds to the enjoyment of the training process can be a positive.
Finally, remember that it’s fun to be good. The hard work pays off when your young player can demonstrate their skills out on the court. Now that’s fun.
Is your young player training with their goals in mind? If they have a goal of making the middle school team in 7th grade, how are they going to get there? Help your young player see the long view. If they develop that mindset, they will be motivated to train and play with a purpose. All of us work harder and smarter when we have a definite goal in mind. Otherwise it is too easy to drift.
If your young player is honest with themselves about their goals, then they’ll either decide to skip the workout or go through it with enthusiasm. I knew where I wanted to go in the game so I kept striving to get there!
Players need to get rest, young players especially. Training and playing day in-day out is tough, both mentally and physically. Be sure to build rest time and rest days into your young player’s schedule. Proper sleep, nutrition, hydration, and stretching can help them recover more quickly during the season and live a healthier life in general.
Young players should have an off-season where they are playing a different sport. They can still work on their basketball, but the frequency should definitely be dialed back to give their body and mind time to recover. As they get to high school, they can begin to think about specializing, until that point multiple sports can help them fully develop as athletes.
Add variety to your young player’s training. Don’t do the same three drills day after day. Mix in new challenges to keep things fresh and exciting. Variety stimulates the brain and helps us learn. Create different workouts for each day of the week. Pick a day and just work on one skill, create a workout that only works on their weak hand, or play some short squad games to work on their overall skill set. By keeping their brain active and engaged they’ll continue to improve and grow. The same workout every day can get boring and tedious leading to burnout in your young player. Purchase our Make the Team Plan and get over 90 different workouts designed to help your young player elevate their game.
Don’t let basketball consume your young player’s life. Even someone like me that loved basketball had other interests, especially when I was in elementary school. I spent plenty of time as a kid down by the creek catching frogs, reading books, taking pictures, listening to music, playing other sports, etc. Here is a little secret: There really is life after basketball! Just because your young player loses a game or misses a shot doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. It’s critical that you help your child balance their life with activities other than basketball. Help your child find time for their family, friends, schoolwork , hobbies, and other pursuits outside of basketball. Believe it or not they’ll end up a better, happier player because of that balance. They only get to be a kid once!
Burnout is a very preventable, but occurs far too often in youth sports today. Use these tips to help your young player avoid burnout and you will be setting the table for a positive youth basketball experience. Should you happen to find yourself with a burned out athlete, chances are if you use some of these tips your young player will be back on the court having fun again in no time!
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