SKILL DEVELOPMENT: KEY TO COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP

Yesterday I was speaking with a friend of mine who is an assistant coach at a Men’s Division I University in Florida. He had been to AAU showcases in the midwest and the east coast in the past few days and I asked him, “How was the talent?”

He shook his head and said, “Terrible. Ten percent of players can play. The rest have no basketball skills. Those parents are wasting their money hoping their kid can get a scholarship.”

He isn’t the only college coach that has told me this recently. With the growth of AAU and traveling basketball in what seems to be in every county, city, and town, today’s youth and high school players are playing more games.

The amount of games that a player can play in the off season can be mind boggling. But what happened to the skills? What happened to the player working on the driveway on his pull up? What happened to the player working endlessly on his or her game?

Yes, there are a few out there, but these players are much harder to find than a generation ago. In a way, for many players the idea of skill development is a thing of the past. It might as well be right up there with record albums and 8 track tape players.

SEEING IT FROM BOTH SIDES

In my lifetime I coached over 750 high school games (if you include summer) and over 750 AAU games. I have seen basketball from both levels of youth and high school basketball.

And I am not here to bash either side. Both coaches are needed in this game. But seriously something needs to be done about the lack of skill development.

Now I don’t want to sound like the bitter old man that just loves to complain. But lets face it, we play too many games in this country. There is something to be said when you play more games than practice.

The belief by many coaches is that players get better by playing more and more games. The higher the number games, the better the player gets. What pure garbage this notion is.

In a 32 minute game, one team will usually be in possession of the ball for 16 minutes. Outside of the point guard, a player will usually touch the ball for 30 seconds to a minute. How in the heck can you get better if you handle the ball so infrequently? YOU CAN’T!

SKILL DEVELOPMENT IS THE KEY

Basketball is arguably the most athletic team game. Unfortunately, many coaches, players and parents have forgotten what truly makes players dominant on the hardwood.

I believe great players become great players through training. The better the skills, the better the player.

Unfortunately there is a large amount of coaches that believe athleticism wins championships. There are also other coaches that believe plays and offensive sets are the true reasons for a team’s success. Give me a skilled group over the best plays or the most athletically talented team and I will beat you every time.

THE TRUTH

If you are a high school coach, please explain to your players about developing skills. There is an old saying in basketball…”Be good to basketball and basketball will be good to you.” Unfortunately, there are thousands upon thousands of young players that are abusing basketball.

I fully understand why AAU is so popular. First and foremost, you are playing against the best players.

AAU also is about hope. Many parents throw out thousands of dollars per year (yes it adds up if you count gas, hotels and meals) “hoping” their child gets seen by coaches and gets the golden scholarship.

Unfortunately for many this won’t happen because of skill development. If what my friend said is actually true in regards to the 10% theory (and I believe he is very knowledgeable), then as high school and middle school coaches we need to fix it.

From the 4th grade to the highest AAU levels, coaches need to constantly remind their players the importance of working on their basketball skills (especially shooting).

As coaches we got into this profession to help youngsters. It’s not always about winning games. For me, there is nothing better than seeing players improve.

WRAP UP

Please understand this is not a article based on talking poorly about AAU. Instead, this is about getting parents, players and coaches to realize that playing AAU alone will not get a player noticed by college coaches.

AAU is only a platform to get noticed. If the player is not 7 feet tall or a freak of nature athletically, then he or she will not get noticed without skills.

Skill development is the key to that college scholarship.