Flow, Learning, and Youth Sports

Originally published in Los Angeles Sports & Fitness, September 2014.

During the summer when I was in middle school, I walked to a halfcourt gym near my house and played basketball for as long as there were other children to play against. On some days, when the competition was good, I would play for three to four hours without realizing it, my only sense of time coming from my grumbling stomach as lunch time approached and passed. During these games, I played against a wide spectrum of different players; playing against older and bigger players forced me to learn new shots, similar to those that the San Antonio Spurs Tony Parker uses around the basket. Playing against smaller players forced me to work on my quickness to protect the ball. When I was the best player there, I would challenge younger children and play with a disadvantage, playing one against two or shooting only shots outside the key. […]

Double-Edge Sword of Demonstrations and Instructions

During my presentation, one question focused on the timing of block practice and random practice. In a traditional coaching methodology, coaches start with the block practice with lots of instruction and feedback and isolated drills. Once players show improvement, the coach adds a new element or puts the skill into a scrimmage. The decision-training style of coaching starts with competition-like drills and “hard-first instruction.” […]