The worst thing that I have ever heard, was this weekend at the AAU tournament at the Capitol Sports Complex in District Heights Maryland, were the discussion of reclassified student/athletes by their parents to make sure they catch up in their basketball progress. This is a mess on behalf of selfish parents in living their dreams through minors and trying to purchase a lottery ticket with no guarantees. How dare you keep your child back a grade so that he is better then the class that he played in the previous year? Another reason to make me hate AAU even more.

So much pressure is being put on kids these days to perform at a high level. If the kid want to play and have the love for the game, parents need to step back and just put their child in the hands of someone that has experience and will guide them throughout their career. Not these make shift coaches who have never played nor experienced basketball on a high level, does not have the child’s best interest nor have a clue about the game. A lot of these programs are money hungry and benefit from these kids. How many of the kids actually develop? I’ve watched games all weekend and majority of the kids can’t dribble with their left hand, don’t know how to jump stop, pivot or finish with the left. It’s so sad. And let’s not talk about the fundamentals like keeping your back to the sidelines or setting a pick. It’s a mess.

Back to the title of this post, keeping a child back doesn’t guarantee an advantage. What it does is allow others too catch up. If your child needs an extra year to keep up with his peers, then you should think about the hands that you have them in. Development comes from hard work and repetition in sports. The message that you are sending to your child is that you are not good enough to be among your peers right now. Confidence builder? I think not. You should teach them hard work will catch you up.

The pressure is enormous for the kids, parents as well as coaches on the sidelines hollering and not giving a child room for error. You learn from your mistakes. I know that first hand. The fun in basketball is gone. It has become a business by the age of 10 years old. That’s when a child is still at home imitating his favorite players. This is the character building stage. Still figuring out who they are. So many changes will come mentally and physically. I understand parents invest a lot into the development of these kids, but parents, you should be the last stage of pressure on your child. If they can’t come to you when they make mistakes or not perform well, the moral is out the window. Now the kids are playing to please you and the coaches and not themselves. I have a few kids in my training camp that were afraid to try things because their coaches take them out the game or yell at them when they make mistakes. These kids are 9 & 10 years old. I was amazed at that. How high is the learning curve. You learn by playing and knowing how to figure things out. And you definitely can’t do that by being left back!

“You just go back to basics, go back to just the fundamentals of the game and try to make simple plays.” ~ Kobe Bryant

Lonnie Harrell

Lonnie Harrell

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