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modified fun

I am working with a modified basketball  coach. His team won easily over a weak opponent. Even up 25 he made sure to keep at least two of his better players in the game at all times. He had reasons not to play the weaker players, all coaches do that follow this pattern of coaching. None are valid in the long term best interest of developing the most players athletically. I explained how that was hurting his team and stopping them from getting better. What he didn't see that I could is the unhappy players on his team. The good players playing in the game were acting up because they could basically do whatever they wanted on the court because the opponent was weak. They weren't getting better.Players coming out of the game were not happy. Kids sitting on the bench were unhappy.  They weren't paying attention to the game. Why should they? They weren't getting to play, and make no mistake about it, kids join a team to play, not sit. No  one ever dreamed of being Micheal Jordan while he was sitting on the bench. You don't get any better sitting on the on the bench. A lopsided victory had a price. I talked to the coach after the game and he was not receptive. He had explanations for why the kids stayed in. I explained to him what I saw. I told him with 10 kids at the game he could play shifts. He could rotate the kids and in a 32 minute game, four eight minute quarters, he could play the shifts equally and see the difference. I explained that you don't really have starters, just starting positions and any kid can fill that spot at any time depending on how well they play. You can use practice as a competitive tool and scrimmage with equal teams and see who plays the best. (tell the kids what you are doing) He could start many different players during the season, and still be competitive. He could adjust when they went in to start and finish a game rewarding better play in practice and in a game. I'm for more competition, not less. I also explained that when the better players were sitting on the bench and the score got close, this made the game more competitive for them when they went back in the game, thus helping them to get better.

Flash forward to the next week. He didn't start his better players. Almost immediately the players on the floor started playing harder.One boy who hadn't played much the week before was starting and when he made a basket the place erupted in applause. He was smiling and the coach was smiling. One boy, not a previous starter, got more points and rebounds in the game than he had gotten all season.

Interesting side bar happened. When the better players came out, even with a big lead they were unhappy. The coach calmed them down and I saw them start to react positively to their teammates on the court. After the game I congratulated the coach on what he did. He and the assistant were beaming.They commented on how well using "SHIFTS" worked and how much more fun they had and all the kids had. I  told him that he could explain to the better players that first it was a team. Meaningless points on their stat sheet at the expense of others playing time was not a good lesson to learn. When these players were not the best players on a future team they might feel differently when they had to sit. Also, the better the players on their team got, the better they would get as practice would be more competitive, and so would playing time during games. These players, after the game could complain to others, but after such a wonderful game, they would stick out like a sore thumb.

I am a very competitive person, but there is a way to compete that can help every one on the team improve and be successful.That inter team competition is the single most important coaching tool for young kids to experience and learn for future success. Life lessons are taught about getting along, success and failure, and feeling positive and good about your self and team. But the more some kids play and the less some kids play on pre puberty teams the less competitive it really is. The better players don't have the competition to get better because the other players who have not developed as quickly start to fall behind. The players strengths actually become a weakness as they develop bad habits. Players not getting playing time lose interest. They don't try as hard and eventually, quit.Oh by the way, they won big again.

Written by : VJS