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When Newbies and Experienced Players Collide


We got this great comment from a sports mom the other day on our post about overcoming first year jitters as a youth athlete and just had to share it! It’s probably safe to say that a lot of sports parents have been in a situation similar to this basketball mom.

My son is 10, and is in his first season of basketball through the local rec center. There are 8 kids on his team, 4 who are really experienced and 4 who are not. The experienced players will only pass to each other, so the newer kids rarely get to touch the ball. Any advice?

In another recent post we asked if sports leagues should bother keeping score and a lot of When Newbies and Experienced Players Collidethe responses we got both here on our blog as well as other social sites said that in younger leagues it’s not terribly necessary but as kids get older and more competitive it’s worth keeping score. At 10 years old it’s possible that some of these boys have been playing basketball for 3-4 year at this point and probably take the game pretty seriously (or at least as seriously as a ten year old can). Chances are these boys really want to win and they know that the more times the 4 experienced players get their hands on the ball the better chance they have of winning, right? And while there is nothing wrong with wanting to win that does leave the four newer players out in the cold.

Since there are only 5 basketball players per team on the court at a time it probably didn’t take too long for this sports mom to notice the unusual (and disheartening) pattern amongst the more experience players. So what’s a basketball mom to do?

Our best piece of advice would be to talk to the coach. There is always the possibility that he doesn’t notice the four experienced players tend to pass the ball amongst themselves. Some basketball coaches are just glad to see their players passing at all! But at the end of the day he is the one controls who is on the court at any given moment and he can easily move players around to make sure that the more experienced players and the “newbies” are all on the court at the same time (maybe 2 experienced and 3 new). This encourages the two sets of teammates to work together. The coach could also pay more attention during practice and make sure that the experienced kids aren’t always partnering up with each other for drills.

A word to the wise---make sure that if you find yourself in this situation you become a champion for all the newbies, not just your own child!

Basketball truly is a team sport that needs to involve everyone. Unlike a huge PeeWee football team where there could easily be a dozen players on the field at any given moment (and everyone has a very specific job to do) a five man basketball team is a much more tight-knit group that really needs to trust each other.

What advice do you have for this basketball mom and other sports parents in similar situations?



This might be tough for 10 year olds, but a coach should convince his players that the best way to have a winning team (if that's the goal) is to work together to bring out the best in everyone. Help the younger players develop. That way if there is an injury or someone quits the team and the "newbie" has to take over, they'll be better prepared, and can still remain competitive.
Posted @ Thursday, February 07, 2013 9:57 AM by David Whittaker
I hate to say this but it may very well be the coaches doing. We had a team like that in our 12U girls program. A few girls from one team said the coach told them whenever they got the ball to just get it to the point guard. They said they "were not allowed to do anything else". I don't know how anyone can do that to a young girl, but I know it happens all the time.
Posted @ Thursday, February 28, 2013 2:09 PM by Bill Formella
I have been on both sides of this with my 4 children...but it is the nature of sports to be competitive. I know my children work hard at improving...and resent the kids who come in and complain that no one passes to them. They work hard to get the ball (in the case in Lacrosse) where it needs to go in order for someone to fumble and have the ball go all the way back down the field??? If your child works hard, teammates will notice and build trust. Just because you're a member of a team you aren't 'owed' anything!
Posted @ Thursday, February 28, 2013 2:26 PM by Corine Wehner
As a former coach, the new coaches don't coach the whole team.. They just look for what we call the Cook-a-man.. Star players and don't take the joy of coaching the inexperience players up to play with the stars...the joy of it will be that u really is a coach cause you made these kids better and you will have a winning team..but like society we want things the easy and quik way.. Good luck...
Posted @ Thursday, February 28, 2013 2:26 PM by Tino
I understand Corine but more often than not that does not happen. I'm a coach with no kids in the program. I do it because I love it and I coach them ALL to a higher level. I just don't see many other coaches doing that. They draft their core, and every other kid is just a pawn in their attempt to show what great coaches they are....but aren't. I guess I still think recreation league is supposed to be more about instruction than winning at all costs. If it's a prep program where they're trying out and competing for a spot I get it. I don't get it in rec league when so many inexperienced kids come to learn, but aren't given the chance.
Posted @ Thursday, February 28, 2013 2:47 PM by Bill Formella
As a parent with an 11 year old boy in many sports and having been on both sides of the "New kid on the team" fence, it is always painful to watch practices and games where the new and inexperienced kids never get a chance. They join the team, show up to every practice and try their hardest. In the games they sit the bench. When they are allowed to play, they sometimes fail because they have so little experience. The other kids (and the coach unfortunately) do not trust them to get the job done and because they rarely get a chance to try to get the job done, they don't learn. Its a catch 22. If they do succeed ( catch a pass or fly ball, hit it out of the park, make a touch down or the winning basket) its considered a fluke and they go back to sitting the bench. I understand that coaches are pressured to win, to give the kids who are playing their last season in the league a chance to shine and be all-stars, to respect the relationships they have with the parents of kids who have been in the league with them since they were 5 etc. All in all I think every parent would like to see their child enjoy playing and learning about a sport. Its sad when those kids opt out of a sport without ever getting a chance to really experience it because in their eyes, they will never get a chance to play.
Posted @ Thursday, February 28, 2013 6:24 PM by Lee Smith
I have also coached 'rec' soccer and 1/2 of the children told me they didn't want to be there, but their parents were making them. There is bound to be a clash...and I didn't sign up to babysit. My own child lost out the most as I strove to make everything 'fair', I even planned the whole game and summed up the playing time for each player so there was no doubt about how long each player played. My only assumption/expectation was that the parents bring their players to practice and games. Many just wanted to play in games and skip practices.I can honestly say that each season 1 player 'blossomed' and their parents were thrilled...but it is a slippery slope because the parent's egos get twined in with their children's success. I think that everyone (parents/players/coaches)needs to have the same philosophy... the kids keep score whether you do or not -so that is really not a solution.
Posted @ Friday, March 01, 2013 9:41 AM by Corine Wehner
Unfortunately going into a sport at 10 is late these days, at least in Southern California. I would encourage you if able to drill with your child above and beyond what they do in practice, at least 50 percent more time. If your physically unable to, maybe a relative, or neighborhood kid could do the supplemental work. Definitely express your concern to the coach, stay on top of him or her, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, but do your part too.
Posted @ Friday, March 01, 2013 2:21 PM by Phill
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