Preventing the Heartbreak With Basketball

Arguably, the NBA is regarded as the Mecca of professional basketball.  It is the platform where many, if not most young players have aspired to become members of.  However, statistically speaking, we all know that less than 1% of all players will ever see that dream come true.  How can we prevent this heartbreak? The answer is simple, we get out of the way.

As parents, we often take on the responsibility of helping our children beat these odds and join the 1%.  Sometimes, we’re even blinded by limits in their capabilities all because we’re hopeful that they can pick-up where we’ve failed and course correct.  Both are contributors to the inevitable 99%.

Like many of you, my son had his first exposure to team basketball in local parks and recreations. Teams coached by player’s fathers, with minimal commitments, once a week practices, and Saturday games.  Environments that fostered little skill development but provided our kids with friendships and parents an opportunity to cheer for our kids. Times have certainly changed.   

“For the 99%, If no mind was paid to the journey of mastering their skills through a disciplined mindset then they will quickly find their dreams shattered when they reach the end of that road. “

In the blink of an eye you find yourself accelerated into the world of AAU.  An environment that is constantly in flux due to several factors, especially in Southern California.  Some which I’ve encountered are parents holding their kids back, new teams forming, kids shifting between teams.  The list is endless. It is for these reasons and more that the competition and talent at every grade level varies with each and every tournament or league.

As parents, our thinking behind making this jump into AAU is one usually founded in the hopes and dreams for our kids in either the achievement of their dreams or the continuation of our own.  Either way, the approach is usually well-intentioned. However, the lines can easily become blurred when we allow ourselves to substitute our aspirations for our kid’s dreams.  

There is a process to everything and basketball is not an exception.  If we ignore the evolutionary steps in the development of basketball skills we are allowing them to skip ahead while unprepared for the consequences. 

If they are ever to achieve greatly or even learn from the process they must be allowed to fall in love with the game. In order for this to occur we must allow the process to take hold and get out of the way to allow them to organically evolve their game.  We can provide them with various stages to develop and demonstrate their skills, but we cannot do it for them.   

For the 99%, If no mind was paid to the journey of mastering their skills through a disciplined mindset then they will quickly find their dreams shattered when they reach the end of that road.  So, why not consider teaching the life skills that are learned through the achievement of each step?  

Instead of teaching to the test that only 1% can pass, let’s encourage the acknowledgement of the steps in the process that it takes to work towards a goal.  Skills learned and achieved at each step that can be applicable to any dream or aspiration. Failure is part of any progress made in the pursuit of a dream. However, if its existence is not carefully managed it can have an adverse effect.  As parents, our role is in the perspective we provide our kids through their achievements and failures.  

Just as not every game will be won, not every dream will come true.  Focus on what is important. “It’s not the Destination, it’s the Journey” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.   

-Mother of two boys

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Randy Holcomb

Randy Holcomb

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