10 Things That I Have Learned From Coaching My Daughter’s Youth Girls’ Basketball Teams

  1. The girls team game seems to be more organized: In between games in any particular tournament, I get to watch some of the youth boys play. My, oh, my – it is impressive how many fouls occur in one half. When a person goes up for a lay-up, it sounds like a round of applause.
  2. Parents will cheer extra loud as a way to intimidate your team: This is extremely annoying. Parents who do this end up with a reputation. As you are reading this, at least two parents came to mind, didn’t they?
  3. You have to be very versatile in your coaching: There is definitely a fine line between pushing your athletes to be better and being overbearing. Some players need to be poked with a stick, while others need constant, polite encouragement. Know the difference! There is nothing worse than a girl crying while she is running up and down the court. Yup, you look like an asshole.
  4. Not everybody follows the tournament rules: If the tournament rules say “no zone defense”, then you probably shouldn’t have your tallest player(s) standing in the paint – that is not the definition of help defense. It is youth basketball. You’re an asshole.
  5. Poor, poor, referees: Although some are terrible (there’s no denying that), it does not give you a reason to yell or belittle them. Look, I was a ref, and I know first-hand that there is no “winning” for them. They go home with minimal pay and no trophy to show for it. There is a reason why there are not enough of them to go around. Either as a parent, or as a coach, try shaking their hand and telling them thank you after every game – no matter the outcome.
  6. Some teams choose not to develop all of their players: In high school constantly played summer high school basketball tournaments against teams who where ranked in the USA Today Top 25 (this was in 1998, before ESPN and MaxPreps showcased all of them). A common theme among a lot of those teams is that some players where way more developed than others, which, to me was sad, because those under-performing players were only glad just to be on a great team. The same happens in youth basketball; just because you have an athlete who is a 5’11” fifth-grade beast in the post now, does not mean that she will be the tallest person on the court when she is in high school. If she stops growing (and has minimal ball-handling skills), backing her opponents down in the post for a layup will not be much of an option.
  7. The most aggressive girls usually win: This does not mean that your girls have to fight, cheat, or be dirty to win. But they do have to have a “never back down,” “never say die attitude.” If you have a group that isn’t afraid to get on the ground and mess up their uniforms, consider yourself extremely fortunate.
  8. Always remember the social aspect: For the most part, it’s true – girls just want to have fun. If they are not having fun, they will usually quit the sport sometime around sixth grade.
  9. Be careful about scheduling games: There are so many tournaments out there (damn near 3 to 5 per week). If you are not careful, you could end up playing in a tournament every week from December until June. And with each tournament having a three-game minimum, you team could end up with a rigid NBA schedule. Yikes!
  10. Go with the hand you are dealt: Sure, you can recruit the best of the best in your neighborhood or city, but there is something about playing with the team you got. You will go through your bumps and bruises, but you will end up with a great return on your investment.

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Bonus – Eater beware: Travel squad itself can be spendy venture,  but the concession stands are enough to break the bank. There are plenty of cheap meal options when you are in a well-populated city, but if the venue is in the middle of nowhere, pack your lunch.

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