From the media to college coaches to NBA coaches to Kobe Bryant, everyone believes that teenagers play too many basketball games. Of course, the blame is directed at the players. Why? Do the players make their own schedules or do they follow their team’s schedule?
This weekend, I spoke to several high-school coaches who had more than 40 games scheduled in the next 6 weeks. Is it the players’ fault that they are playing in these games?
I received a text from a friend whose daughter is one of the best players in the state and a future NCAA D1 player. He said that she will not be participating with her high school at all during the summer, and she chose an AAU team that only participates in a few big tournaments. As an example, she has played in one tournament with her AAU team this spring/summer. Rather than playing every weekend, she is concentrating on getting stronger and working on her skills.
Most coaches, based on what I read on the Internet, approve of this approach. Everyone seems to believe that players should spend more time in the offseason on their skills and strength. However, how many coaches would be happy to have their best player tell them that she would see him in September when school starts? Despite the rhetoric, my experience tells me that few coaches would be accepting of this announcement, although the coach is inclined not to complain because she was the best player on a state champion last season.
If the player is not the best player on her team and a clear All-State selection, does the player have the power to tell a coach that she will not participate in any of his offseason activities? I trained a player years ago whose high-school coach demanded 80% participation in offseason activities – practices, games, and camps – and threatened to cut players who missed the 80% mark. The coach played in spring leagues and summer leagues, attended multiple team camps, and played in a tournament on almost every weekend in the summer.
With this type of schedule, and demands, who is responsible for players playing too many games? If the coach wants fewer games and more focus on skill development, shouldn’t he or she schedule fewer games or participate in fewer offseason tournaments?