The Role of Joy in Attracting Top Talent

by Paul Cortes
Assistant Varsity Boys Coach, International High School
Youth Basketball Coach, San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department
AAU Coach, Bay City Basketball

People have come up with numerous narratives for why Kevin Durant, in one of the biggest free agent announcements in NBA history, chose to join the Golden State Warriors. I’m not going to pretend to know any better than anyone else what Kevin Durant’s motivations are. However, a recent press conference introducing former Golden State assistant Luke Walton as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers offers a glimpse into what makes Golden State so special—the environment that Steve Kerr has helmed as head coach. Walton said: […]

Can sports be fun and serious simultaneously?

Fun and play are contentious topics in sports, as serious coaches, especially at younger age groups, believe that fun and seriousness are diametrically opposed. When forced to choose between two opposite, traditional coaches choose seriousness because sports are supposed to be serious, competitive endeavors. What? Sports are games. They are play. Why can’t fun and play be part of the sports experience, especially with young players? […]

Fun Games, Obesity, and Burnout

Originally published by Los Angeles Sports & Fitness, September 2013.

Every day, my twitter feed is littered with articles about childhood obesity, and the need for children to eat better and exercise more. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. In 2011, only 29% percent of high school students had participated in the recommended 60 minutes per day of physical activity on each of the 7 days before the survey (CDC, 2011). Meanwhile, I am bombarded with articles about burnout and the need for recovery. Are the two related? How can we – at the same time – have a nation plagued by obesity from a lack of physical activity and a nation plagued by burnout and overtraining in youth athletes? […]

Teaching a complex game to novice basketball players

This afternoon, I conducted a basketball clinic for children who had never played basketball. I knew that it would be a challenge when the boys and girls ran around throwing and kicking balls into the handball/futsal goals prior to the start. The children wore F.C. Barcelona jerseys and handball shoes. This was different than doing previous clinics with beginners in India where the children were happy for any activity. These were children with choices, and they had made their choice not to play basketball. […]

The Shoot-Around or Walk-Through

Most teams at the high-school level and above have a walk-through or a shoot-around the day of a game or the day before. These are designed to rehearse the plan for the game, go over the opponent one more time, and build confidence in one’s shooting by watching the ball go through the net with some easy, uncontested shooting drills.  […]

Players and Parents Differing Views on Competition

When I speak to groups of coaches, I bring them back to the playground. Most problems with youth sports do not start with the players; they start with the parents and parent-coaches. Players want equal teams, not stacked teams. When I was in junior high school, we had four pretty good players. When we picked Read more about Players and Parents Differing Views on Competition[…]

Is Basketball Practice Work or Fun?

When I talk to youth and high school basketball coaches, many seem to make practice intentionally not fun. To most, fun and work are opposites, and practice must be work to prepare for games and develop players’ skills. In Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind, he quotes British management scholar David Collinson about the work Read more about Is Basketball Practice Work or Fun?[…]

Why Can’t Sports Be Fun and Competitive?

We completed our volleyball season yesterday, finishing 6-4 in league play (the school finished without a J.V. team last season, as so many players had quit from a winless team). Today, we will have one final practice to collect jerseys, play and have fun. The A.D. joked with another coach on campus about our post-season Read more about Why Can’t Sports Be Fun and Competitive?[…]

Do Youth Sports Leagues Provide Enough Play?

In the rush to athletic achievement, myelin, 10,000 hours and deliberate practice have become the new buzzwords. However, what about play? In Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul, Stuart Brown M.D. defines the six properties of Play as: Apparent Purposelessness: done for its own sake Inherent Attraction: it’s Read more about Do Youth Sports Leagues Provide Enough Play?[…]

The Fun and Games of Youth Sports

Last month, I wrote a post titled, “Should Youth Basketball Practices Be Fun?” On another site, a high school coach criticized the idea of fun, suggesting that fun was nice, but he wanted his players to improve and excel, and the two were mutually exclusive: one can either have fun or one can excel. This Read more about The Fun and Games of Youth Sports[…]