Thanks to everyone who responded last week to my question about what is really important to you as a parent when it comes to your child’s basketball experience. We received over 100 ranked responses so I thought I’d share the collective results along with my thoughts on how each of the items plays into the youth basketball experience.
Here is how our readers ranked the 11 items from the infographic plus “winning”.
3. Get Healthy
8. Relieve Stress
10. Do well in school
11. Make Friends
12. Goal Setting
This was the clear number one ranked item for almost everyone who responded. It makes sense. If playing a game isn’t fun, why would anyone want to participate? I hope coaches remember this when they think about their goals for the season. Fun should be a priority. Although some old school coaches don’t believe it, you can have fun and build a winning team at the same team.
I truly believe there is nothing like participation in team sports to prepare young people for later life experiences. Being a great teammate helps kids develop the ability to look outside themselves and be concerned about the well-being of others. Kids learn to sacrifice their wants and needs to make their team better, just like successful adults do in their relationships and careers.
In the United States approximately 21-24% of children are overweight and 16-18% of children are obese. Those are staggering statistics. Although I would have personally ranked this one lower I understand why parents believe this is so important. Kids today just aren’t out running around and playing the way they used to in past generations. They spend a lot of time in front of a screen. Youth basketball provides kids with the opportunity to get the exercise and activity that growing bodies need.
Learning a new skill in one area (basketball) can help a child feel more confident in other areas of their life. When a player sees their hard work pay off on the court a coach or parent can guide them to the realization that they can be successful in other parts of their life as well. This is what a growth mindset is all about. A belief that I can be better at anything if I am willing to put forth the effort. Sports can provide a clear example to kids that hard work leads to improvement which ultimately builds self-confidence.
I am a huge proponent of sportsmanship. I believe that the world would be a much better place if all of us learned the lessons of sportsmanship when we were young. When we honor the ROOTS (Rules, Officials, Opponents, Teammates, Self) of the game (thanks Positive Coaching Alliance!) we create a better atmosphere for all involved. Plus as an added bonus, if you’re nice to people in your day to day life they’ll be nicer to you and more likely to help you out if they can!
In order for a team to be successful players must be accountable to their teammates and their coaches. If someone doesn’t do their job the entire team is likely to fail. Sports teach this type of accountability. Too often in today’s world people are looking to place the blame on someone else or make excuses instead of stepping up and accepting responsibility. On the best teams, players hold each other accountable for what needs to be done and that level of accountability leads to long term success.
This is a tricky one for me and based on the survey results, a lot of other parents as well. Winning was ranked all over the board. Winning is definitely not one of my top priorities when it comes to this list. I believe that it should rank at or near the bottom. However, I do think that kids need to experience some winning to make them more receptive to the other messages. If a team doesn’t win a game all year it can be tough on kids, especially if they are hearing from their parents about how the team stinks or the coach doesn’t know what he is doing. In that context, a win or two can make all the difference. As a competitive person that hates to lose I understand the need to be competitive and the desire to win games, we just can’t sacrifice the other items on this list to pursue winning at the cost of developing our athletes as people.
I had this one last. Maybe I am lucky in my family, but I never sense that my kids are stressed and need to go play a basketball game to relieve that stress. I never felt that way as kid either. If a child lives in a more stressful environment or has difficulty with anxiety I can understand how sports would be a great outlet or escape for that child.
Sports are a great way to develop leadership skills in kids. I am always looking for ways to give kids more responsibility in practice or games. I try to teach them when leadership is needed and what it looks like in different situations. A true leader performs at a high level and gets others to follow them up to their standard of performance. We need to give kids more opportunities to develop leadership skills that they can apply later in life.
Again, in my family this is an expectation held outside of sports. On the other hand I have coached kids in high school whose only reason for being at school each day was so they could play on the basketball team. The longer playing ball keeps a kid in school, the greater the chances they’ll see the true value of getting a good education.
I’m surprised this one didn’t rank higher. One of the things I love about coaching is seeing the friendships that develop between my players. As a parent it is great to see my kids make new friends each season as they compete alongside kids they didn’t know before. To this day I still have more friends that I met through sports than anywhere else.
Goal setting is a little vague so I understand why it ended up last, What type of goals are we talking about? I believe that setting goals is critical to a person’s success. If you don’t know where you are headed, how do you know what path to take? Sports can help kids learn how to set and achieve goals, a valuable skill for anybody at any stage of life.
Thanks to everyone who shared their list! If you’d like to weigh in on this topic after the fact, I’d still love to read your list and hear your thoughts on what makes a great youth basketball experience.
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