Whether you’re a youth basketball coach or the parent of a youth basketball player, there will come a time when your child starts to drift away from their love of the sport. It might not happen to everyone, but children are naturally trying new things everyday.
Keeping them motivated throughout their childhood years will mostly depend on the child’s overall dedication to basketball and their passion for it. It’s important to understand that loss of motivation can happen to anyone — even players at a professional level.
Part of being a coach or the parent of a player is making sure the youth are maintaining an enjoyment for the game. There are plenty of things we can collectively do to make youth basketball something our children can thrive in.
Promote Fun Over Everything
It’s understandable to be competitive and want to win, it’s a part of the game. When this is taken to an extreme, however, it starts to strip the fun out of it. This can be a main source of kids losing interest in basketball at a young age.
For coaches, it’s important to understand that your players will always be motivated for the next game. Keeping them motivated on practice days and days off is where the challenge exists. Most young basketball players dread practice, but the coach will always have an opportunity to make it a part of the process they look forward to.
For parents, it’s common to want your children to play their best and succeed in basketball. Sometimes, we can get a little over-excited and make them feel like they’re out there playing for their parents. This isn’t about us, it’s about the kids having fun and learning the valuable lessons that team basketball can teach our youth.
Be Supportive of Their Weaknesses
Every player will have weaknesses when they step out on the basketball court — some more than others. One of the beautiful things about youth sports is we have the opportunity to watch them turn their weaknesses into strengths. Furthermore, we have the ability to guide them to become a better basketball player.
For most youth basketball players, they will feel ashamed or embarrassed by their weaknesses. They will avoid working on those weaknesses and never improve due to the fear of being judged. As a coach or a parent, it’s necessary to support them through their weaknesses and help them improve.
Although this will involve the player coming to grips with the fact that they aren’t performing well enough in certain areas, it will be the first step to them overcoming their weaknesses.
Highlight Your Team’s Strengths
It’s easy to tell your team or your child that they could’ve played better — we can always do better at anything we do. While focusing on their weaknesses will help them become better, highlighting their strengths will give them a sense of accomplishment.
Bringing this full-circle, that sense of accomplishment and even reward for doing so can help instill more enjoyment in your players. This will help them become more confident moving forward.
Let’s not forget, kids have much more fun when they’re winning and playing good. So let’s help them get to that point by spreading positivity and words of encouragement when they need it most.