When your child starts playing basketball it can often be difficult to know how to encourage them without pushing too hard that they begin to not like the game, but there are several things you can do to help grow both their skills and their love of the game.

Essential tips to help your young athlete

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1. Offer tons of support and encouragement

This may seem like a no brainer, but too often we see parents coming down pretty hard on their player after a missed shot or bad pass. It’s essential to remember that they need support and encouragement from their parents- and to leave the coaching to their coach.

2. Don’t put too much pressure on them

It may be tough to remember in the heat of the game, but kids are usually playing basketball primarily because they love the game. If you place too much pressure on them to make every shot, succeed at every play and not make any mistakes, they are quickly going to move from loving the game to dreading their play time.

3. Patience is essential

When you see your child on the court it may be easy to envision them years down the line playing for a college team- or maybe even the NBA! But it’s essential to remember that skill development takes time and that no player became a rock star overnight.

4. Mistakes are learning experiences

Rather than getting on your child for a mistake they’ve made in a game, consider using their mistake as a learning experience. Talk to them to see whether they recognize the mistake and what they think they could have done differently. Using this approach can help them build their basketball IQ and overall understanding of the game.

5. Grow the love of the game together

Spending time together shooting hoops, watching games and improving both of your game knowledge will help drive your player to improve their game, too. When you understand the ins and outs of the game, you’ll be better able to help them develop skills, learn plays and improve their overall game. The best way to grow your appreciation together is to get outside and play, but watching games is a great option, too.

6. Attend their games

Nothing shows a youth basketball player that you believe in them and are interested and invested in their success like showing up for every game you possibly can.

7. Teach them to respect their coach

The coach is someone every great player needs to respect. From calling plays to teaching skills in practice, if your player isn’t willing to respect and learn from their coach, they aren’t going to get very far in the sport. Teach them to respect the coach by modelling the respect yourself- even when you think he made a bad call!

8 Don’t project your dreams onto them

Even if you dreamt of being the next great Kobe Bryant when you were younger, that doesn’t mean you child has the same dreams. Be careful not to push your dreams onto them and let them create their own goals and dreams.

9. Focus on practice time

No great ball player got to where they are without a TON of practice time. No matter how much they prefer game time, practice is where the skills are really developed. Encourage your player to spend as much time as they can practicing. Even just playing around with ball handling is great! Be careful not to push too hard though: too much pressure can push them to not want to play at all.

10. Teach them accountability

Teaching an athlete to hold themselves accountable for their own game is an important tool for them to have in their arsenal. From bringing the necessary equipment to practices to keeping on top of their practice and game schedule and even owning up when they made a bad play on the court, accountability will serve your child for the rest of their life.

As parents, let’s grow our athletes into great…people!

Remembering some of these simple tips will have you on a good path to help your player grow their game both on and off the court. Whether they aspire to make the select league and grow into a college level athlete or are just happy playing house leagues, your guidance can make all the difference!