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Winning or FUNdamentals, which comes first?


We, as coaches, have the desire to win. A winning program always seems to be the one that everyone wants to talk about and emulate. What coach wouldn't want to have an established basketball program like the University of North Carolina or newer developing program like the University of Florida? However, what has made that winning program, is it superior athletes or superior coaching or a combination of both? It is probably a little bit of everything. If we are going to coach youth-aged athletes, then we as the coaches should know how important it is to teach fundamentals as well as winning and losing. These school-aged players want to win bad enough without our help. We could become "cheerleaders" for our teams, or isn't that part of being a coach.


The problem with basketball is that it is a game, that usually means there is a winner and a loser. You can teach all the fundamentals in the world and have an undersized team, and who is going to win the game? I think we should care. Everyone wants their child to play club ball. It's supposed to make you better, right? Whether it is AAU, YBOA, or the local YMCA, coaches are more than ever emphasizing the "W". They will continue to play their strongest, most skilled players while the other players watch from the sidelines. There is nothing more demoralizing than losing to a kid that doesn't get the opportunity to play. Come on Coach, give every player a chance. What was the score anyway? Lighten up guys, this is not the NBA and try to convince me differently.

Mixed Feelings

We have tried maybe a bit too hard to take the competitiveness out of youth sports today. We need to find a middle ground. Remember Little League baseball's pledge to start every game, "but win or lose, I will always do my best.". Would you want a team that didn't care or had no desire? Or would you want a team that tried their best every time? I have looked at both sides of this coin.
I had the opportunity to coach a team that actually had no "heart". They had no desire to win` or lose for that matter. You could not inspire these kids to even try. Their skills showed. We lost 19 of 20 games that season. It didn't bother these kids at all. Out of fourteen kids on this Little League team only one had competitiveness. He had skills and fundsamentals. The rest couldn't even catch a ball. They literally had no desire to try. Win or lose I will always do my best, NOT.
On the other side of the same coin, I have had many teams that tried their hardest and lost. But, at the end, no one had their heads down. They knew they tried their hardest and that was the importance of trying to them. They would come to practice desiring to become better players. It had nothing to do with winning, it was practice. Game time would come and maybe we would win. But I always knew these kids would try their hardest. That is called "competitiveness" coaches. Not winning.


These are just my feelings as a coach with the same problem as everyone else, fundamentals are essential, offense and defense are important. But shouldn't winning mean something? What has happened to being competitive? Is it the coach or the player? Maybe you should make the call yourself.


A Youth Coach

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