If the good of the team is all that matters, what then separates Collectivistic Youth Basketball (CYB) from Peak by Friday basketball (PFB)? Charlie kind of brought up this point of view in a comment to a blog of mine.
Recently I’ve written about basketball being essentially a collectivistic sport. CYB in a nutshell is: a player’s goal should not be to play well but to help his team succeed optimally.
On the other hand, Brian McCormick has written about PFB: “Winning now is the only thing that matters, and often this stunts the development of players who need time and space to explore, make mistakes and learn.”
Yep, CYB is right and good and PFB is wrong and bad. But they look awfully alike, don’t they? What’s the difference then?
Here are some thoughts on the dilemma.
1) In CYB, the strategy should be to even the odds, so that kids will achieve success in a somewhat even fashion. In PFB this is not done.
2) The odds may be evened in e.g. these ways:
* Constantly change the rosters. In tournaments have players from different clubs play on the same team.
* Use different equipment and rules that favour different types of kids and enhance motor learning. Use ball of different sizes.
* Modify rules so that they keep the final scores close and grow the role of chance. Instead of one game of four seven-minute quarters, have four short games of 7 minutes and change the line-ups between each game.
3) Sometimes in youth sports it is claimed that the main focus is on developing the individuals, not on the good of the team. But what if that attitude actually harms player development? Doesn’t it dismiss the main skill for a player to develop – the skill to co-operate and interact with his teammates for the common good?
4) There are ways to measure the individual impact, too, if need be. Say you run a tournament with short games and constantly changing line-ups. Or you can do this in a team practice. You can keep score on which players’ teams win the most games. This could something to consider e.g. when running a try-out camp.
5) Maybe all other individual statistics but wins should be initially ignored? Maybe collective stats should rather be used as the basis for selecting fields of improvement? Maybe praising players based on their stats (mainly scoring) makes them view them incorrectly, i.e. as an end in itself instead of a means to an end.
6) In CYB the coach does not change the practice schedule or content in order to succeed in the next game. In PFB that is done, as “Peak by Friday” implies.
7) To complement CYB training, it might be a good idea to have individual workouts with one to four players per one coach.
8) The fact that most people will not engage in competitive sports as adults does not mean that they should not do so as kids, as some claim. Isn’t it rather the other way around? Since it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most kids, shouldn’t they be constantly given chances to win all kinds of championships?
9) In order to optimize chances of winning, players need to specialize, i.e. play a certain position. As shown, players of certain size will most probably play certain positions and need certain skills. Yet to optimize improvement in the future, players need good overall general skills. How should a coach solve this problem of specialization and general skills?
10) One suggestion is playing 3-on-3. Relatively more players will have a chance to handle the ball, and the cognitive load is lighter than when playing 5-on-5. Yet all the basic element of the game are there.