Men standing at water cooler in office

“Hey Jim, how was the weekend man?”

“Not bad Frank, not bad at all. How was yours? Didn’t you have some tournament or something?”

“Yeah, yeah we had a 5th grade girls tournament.”

“That’s right, so how’d you all do?”

“Well, we killed it. We won the tournament by an average of 30 points per game!”

“Wow, Frank. That’s impressive. Congrats. I bet the girls were all happy to win and play a lot since you won by so much.”

“Well, Jim we only play like our top six girls, but yeah they all seemed happy. But hey, we’re undefeated so far!”

“I see, you all are big time, huh Frank?”

“Hey man, they gotta learn early. High school and college is right around the corner. If you’re not first, you’re last.”


And after watching 20+ years of youth basketball games, that’s how I imagine far too many Monday morning water cooler conversations going.

During my high school and college days I would referee youth basketball games; many times with one of my best friends. We’re both varsity coaches now, at the same school, and we still laugh about the craziness we used to, and unfortunately still see in youth basketball. Here are a few of the things we’ve observed over the years as referees and coaches:

-Only playing to “win”

-Little to no skill development

-Best players only get to touch and shoot the ball

-Yelling for no reason

-Pressing for no reason

-Running the score up

And our favorite, yelling “Move”, “Run it”, “Come On”, “Go”, “Shoot”, “Run the offense” and “Press em!” It’s funny because the kids don’t know what the coach means and half the time the coach doesn’t either. The coaches are simply acting like what they think a coach should be or do based upon what they’ve seen on TV, or from their own previous coaches.


Sadly, there are some who are more worried about having Monday morning bragging rights about a 5th grade win, rather than properly teaching the game and developing players.

Listen, not all youth coaches are bad, In fact, I think the vast majority of them have hearts in the right spot. They are simply volunteering their time to help coach in order for there to be a team. Too many coaches are underprepared and uninformed on how to properly coach a youth team. League coordinators need to do a better job of training and assisting youth coaches.

I also realize that most league coordinators are volunteers as well. The ultimate solution is to talk more, share more, and educate all involved in the youth game.

The youth level, along with high school and college, should focus on and be about:

  1. Leadership
  2. Responsibility
  3. Respect
  4. Accountability
  5. Being a great teammate
  6. Skill Development


LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 31: Photos from the USAB Youth Clinic at the Doolittle Senior Center in Las Vegas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Tom O'Connor/NBAE via Getty Images)

Ultimately, it should be about building the person and the player. Ability doesn’t mean anything if the person behind lacks the characteristics listed above.

Here are some people, sites, and organizations I fully trust. They will be of great benefit to all youth coaches, and are certainly worth checking out and following:

The Hardwood Hustle

Lead Em Up

Adam Bradley

T.J. Rosene

Tucker Herzberg

PGC Basketball

Mano Watsa

Tyler Coston

Jayson Wells

St. Louis United

Alex Bazzell

USA Basketball

If you have coaches, resources, and sites to add to our list, please comment below. We’d love to hear your thoughts and would be grateful for you sharing this message to help improve the game.

As always, thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!