Parents are often misled to believe that team competition is the only way youth basketball players will get better. Sure, there is much to be learned from a team environment, but the most dramatic improvements will come from individual skills training. Here are 3 BIG reasons why individual skills & drills training is a must-have supplement to any competitive team play.
1. Team Practices can be Lecture Heavy
Student athletes are overly distracted, and nowadays it takes a highly structured and hands-on approach to earn their attention and keep them engaged for extended periods of time. Basketball team settings are no different, which typically practice twice per week from one to two hours at a time. Much of this time is spent by coaches explaining and walking through offensive and defensive sets. This is vital to any team, but this can also mean youth basketball players waste a lot of time standing around. Unless teams practice at least four times per week, only individual or group training sessions laser focused on basketball fundamentals, can help boost a players skill and performance.
2. Focus is on Proper Mechanics
It is essential for basketball players to dedicate time to developing proper basketball mechanics. This includes working on footwork, passing, athletic posture, shooting form, and strength and conditioning. With shooting, for instance, what's the point of chucking up 100-300 shots if the form is wrong? Breaking bad mechanics is a very tough thing for young basketball players to accomplish. This is especially hard for developmental players – commonly multi-sport athletes, those that have never played beyond recreational basketball, or those completely new to the game. It can take several weeks and many hours to break bad form and to learn proper basketball mechanics. Only individual or group instruction heavy with structure and game-speed repetition, will help build the necessary muscle memory and strength to set a player's true potential free.
3. Not Enough Game Time
With rosters at or around 10 players, and with most games only lasting about 40 minutes, game playing time can be scarce. Most basketball players only average about 10 minutes of actual game time. The less skilled athletes play even less or none at all. Much of it depends on the mission and philosophy of the youth basketball organization overseeing team competition and/or the league or tournament they are competing in. Do they strictly coach to win, or is it a youth league in which all players are guaranteed a minimum amount of game time minutes?
In the end, team competition truly is great and definitely the most fun aspect of any sport. It teaches young athletes about sportsmanship, leadership, roles and building trust. Alone, however, and even with the practices that go with competitive team play, it is no longer enough to elevate a player's game to the next level.
Can you think of any other reasons why individual or group skills training is a must-have supplement to team competition? Please comment below.
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