The Value of 3v3

I coached a high-school varsity girls basketball team this season that was a varsity team in name only. There were more absolute beginners on the team – girls who have played any sport on an organized team – then there were players with basketball experience. There was no a single player on the team who played on a high school basketball team last season.  […]

The effect of mixed messages on player performance

Early in an u11 boys soccer tournament championship game, with his team trailing 1-0, a fullback went to take a goal kick. Up to this point, the goalie had taken the goal kicks, but he could not kick over the first line of defense, and the parents on the sideline near the goal kicks were anxious. The players sensed the anxiety and yelled at the biggest player, the fullback, to take the kick. […]

Youth sports: What has changed and what needs to be fixed?

Every day, I read another article that is critical of youth sports. Identifying the problems is easy, but few articles suggest real, practical solutions, and I am unsure whether the suggested solutions would make a practical difference and alleviate the problems.  […]

The Players-First Approach to Coaching

The old-school coaching style that I describe in The 21st Century Basketball Practice is a coach-driven approach to coaching. When I played, every coach use that style to some degree. Rarely if ever did a coach ask for our opinion. The coach decided, and we followed directions.  […]

The effects of a coach’s reaction to mistakes

Last weekend, I refereed five u14 girls soccer games. In the opening game on Saturday morning, the host’s u14s played another local team. The hosts won 2-1, and all of the goals were flukes: a striker tried to dribble around the goalie, kicked it too hard, and scored; a fullback tried to clear the ball and it deflected off a striker and bounced over the goalie’s head; and a fullback and goalie ran into each other, leaving the ball at the striker’s feet.  […]

Complexity and Small-Sided Games

At halftime of a recent college game, two youth teams played at halftime. The children were tiny, and the crowd loved it, and everyone went crazy when a player finally scored as they were leaving the court after 10 minutes. In 10 minutes of fullcourt 5v5 basketball, more children face-planted by tripping on their own feet than made a shot! […]