When your athlete gets rewarded for their hard work on the court with a spot on the rep team that they tried out for, your first reaction is likely pride and excitement. As it should be! Making the rep team is a huge accomplishment in the life of a young basketball player. It is often an accomplishment that shapes their future in the game, too.
Once that initial response fades and practice gets underway, it’s natural to start pushing kids into more of a competitive role within the game. While competition is a natural and necessary part of playing for a rep team, it is often a fine line to walk, too. If you push too hard, they may start to dislike the game but push too little and they won’t embrace the competitiveness needed in rep league ball. The most important thing to remember is that within the world of competitive rep team basketball, fun is still a major requirement.
Encourage healthy competition
Competition is the lifeblood of rep basketball, but it doesn’t have to be a negative or stressful thing. Coaches are usually well versed in how to push players to grow their skills and feel the competitiveness on the court, while still allowing them to have fun and feed their love of the game.
Parents can also help with encouraging competition by coaching their kids to practice often and improve their skillset, without making it feel like a chore. Offer to play with them and make it a family activity. Nothing breeds competition like challenging your siblings to a game after dinner!
Burlington Basketball is home to the Burlington FORCE rep basketball programs. Our boys and girls at every youth age level compete – to win while having fun!
Competition, yes. Too much pressure, no (they’re kids!)
While the competition level is naturally increased in rep basketball, that doesn’t mean that kids should be having any less fun. They are still kids, after all! Encouraging kids to focus on being competitive and trying to win, while still having fun and enjoying the game they love is the best way to ensure they continue to love the sport in its entirety.
It’s become all too common to see parents and coaches shouting from the sidelines, putting pressure on players to make the perfect play or sink the perfect shot. While making good plays and taking good shots is an important part of a good, competitive & winning game, placing pressure on kids to be perfect only serves to stress them out and could ultimately result in them learning to dislike the game.
Competition can and should be fun
For most athletes, learning to include a healthy level of competition in their game will serve to naturally increase the fun they have. However, it is essential to follow their lead in this because as we mentioned earlier, too much outside pressure to compete can cause a player to lose interest in the game.
Once a player gets on the court and feels the competition that comes with a rep team game, the result is often that they actually use those feelings of competition to further their overall skill development. Winning games, making shots and feeling like a success on the court helps to create a cycle of wanting to continue improving their game so that they can keep feeling those wins on the court. This self-imposed competition is the best one to feed when your player joins a rep team!
Encourage a love of the game
It’s the bottom line and the adults often are the ones who lose sight of this (shame!). At the end of the day, rep basketball play is an accomplishment that not all kids strive for or achieve. The fact that your player has worked hard enough to earn a position on a travel team shouldn’t be eclipsed by the idea that a rep team requires a super competitive player. While it’s true that competitiveness is a team requirement, it’s important to remember that competition does still welcome fun for the players that embrace it. Afterall, basketball IS still a game that is ‘played’, and the players ARE still ‘kids’ that deserve time to embrace and enjoy being a kid.