Denver Youth Basketball – What I Dislike About The Game

Denver Youth Basketball - What I Don't Like


Denver Youth Basketball: You Can Do Better!

Youth basketball, when played the right way, can be a very entertaining and fun game to watch.  On the other end of the spectrum, when it is played the wrong way and is permitting bad habits for the participants, it can also be extremely frustrating to watch.  Some characteristics that I have seen in youth basketball that I hope will soon correct themselves for the better are players that have too much interest in shooting the 3 pointer, players that prefer being “cool” with the ball rather than efficient, and players portraying a poor attitude.

Obsession with the 3 Point Shot:

The 3 pointer is a great tool in today’s game.  It is a weapon for a team that has players that can utilize it effectively.  This line helps spread the court, allows for an inside-out game, and overall adds to the excitement of basketball.  Also, the obvious point that is being left out here is the simple fact that it is the shot that can provide a team with the most points in a single flick of the wrist.

In youth basketball however, I find that there is an obsession with this shot that limits the growth of the individual as a player.  Players pass up open lanes to the basket for layups by settling for the much more difficult and lower percentage 3 point shot.  They pull up for the 3 pointer in a two-on-one fast break rather than pursuing the basket, making the defender commit, then either passing or laying the ball up for the easy 2 points.  In addition, young players do not have the physical strength to shoot the 3 point shot with good form.  This hurts their development as a shooter.  I firmly believe in that in young basketball players, the mid range shot is a viable skill till they are ready to step out and take on the 3 point line.  Developing the mid-range game is a skill that will be effective for players throughout their career.

Being “Cool” with the Basketball:

One facet of Denver youth basketball that I absolutely cannot stand is being “cute” or “cool” with the ball.  These two terms can be used interchangeably in describing when a player spends too much time performing fancy through-the-legs and behind-the-back sequences that lead to nowhere rather than performing a quick move that allows them to blow by the defender.  These terms also describe when a player makes a no-look or behind-the back pass that does not allow the team to accomplish the desired goal of putting the ball in the basket.

I am all for players that have the talents to utilize the no-look pass, behind-the-back pass, and other amazing moves when that is what leads to the best play for their team.  All the time we see highlights of the great Magic Johnson making incredible plays like these.  The difference between him and players that are “cute” with the ball is that his passes confuse the defense and  get to their teammates with a chance for them to score in a scenario where that would otherwise not happen with a normal bounce or chest pass.

As young players, the fundamentals need to be mastered first.  Then, when the skill level increases and the time to make that appropriate behind-the-back pass presents itself, go ahead and make it.  The point is to do it for the good of the team rather than put on a performance.

Not Being Coachable:

It speaks so much to a young person’s character when they are described as a coachable player.  This means a person responds to a coach or person of authority, they are disciplined enough to take criticism and learn from it, and they keep a positive attitude on and off the court.  These are all great qualities that will translate to several aspects in life for a young adult.

However, when a player is classified as “uncoachable,” it means that they have a bad attitude and don’t understand how to properly learn from criticism.  This is something that is noticeable in youth basketball today.  Players arguing with the ref, talking back to their coach, or presenting a smug or downtrodden look when they are taken out of the game, are all examples of not being coachable.  Having the ability to take instruction and learn from it constructively are habits that will help young athletes down the road.

Things to Improve in Youth Basketball:

  1. Less focus on the 3 pointer
  2. Being effective rather than “cute”
  3. Becoming coachable



Youth Basketball And The Two Man Game

Denver Two Man Basketball Training

What is  the Two Man Game?

The Two Man Game is something we feel Denver youth basketball players should learn to be effective at. The two man game involves a ball handler and another player, usually an on-ball screen setter, working together to make a play. The ball handler is generally a guard or small forward, and the screen setter is usually a forward or center. There are a multitude of options available in the two man game, and each of them can be effective. Let’s talk about some of the ways you can be effective in the two man game.

Pick and Roll

The pick and roll involves a player screening for a ball handler and then rolling hard towards the basket in hopes of receiving a pass for a finish. The pick and roll is good for freeing up ball a handling guard when he is playing against tough defender. It is also good for getting a screening player an easy shot attempt at the rim, and for bringing a shot blocking defender away from the paint. The pick and roll is great for getting layups for either the screener or the ball handler, and it is also great for getting other teammates open (due to the helping defense) for open three point shots on the wing or in the corner.

Pick and Pop

The pick and pop is similar to the pick and roll, however it involves the screening player flaring out to or around the 3 point line instead of rolling to the rim after setting the screen. Screening players who are better shooters than finishers enjoy the pop action instead of the roll. The pick and pop is in fact commonly used to get a screening player an open shot at the 3 point line. Sometimes you see small forwards acting as screeners in this scenario for that reason. A ball handler in the pick and pop can still get to the rim on the drive, as the pick and pop can open a bigger driving lane for him – remember that the screener will not be heading towards the basket and his defender may not either if he stays with his man.

Slipping the Screen

Slipping the screen is something that teammates who have good communication with each other can be effective in doing. When the screening player comes to set the pick, instead of staying and allowing the ball handler to use him he cuts toward the basket and looks to receive a quick pass. This catches the defense off guard, as they will usually be looking to negotiate the oncoming screen. Slipping the screen works when the screening player’s defender over-helps and doesn’t maintain his position between his man and the basket. When this defender hops on the side of the screener to help defend the ball handler, it creates an opening for the screener to slip and cut to the basket. A tandem that has established good pick and roll/pop play earlier in the game might see the opportunity for slipping the screen as the defense over-adjusts.

Dribble Handoff

The dribble handoff normally occurs when a big man has the ball on the perimeter and he’s trying to get the ball back to a ball handling guard or wing. The big man dribbles over to the guard to make a safe exchange with the basketball, but this can turn into more than just an exchange. The dribble handoff can quickly and easily turn into two-man scoring action. A big guy can act as screener on the handoff and create an open driving or shooting opportunity for the guard. A big guy can also fake the handoff if his defender is over-helping and create a 3 point shooting or driving opportunity for himself. The false dribble handoff can be a really effective scoring tool for big guys.

The Two Man Game can be pretty effective for youth basketball players, but can take a lot of practice individually and with a teammate for players to get comfortable with. Contact your local basketball trainer to help you learn the nuances of this great offensive weapon!

Denver Basketball Lessons – What Your Kids Learn

Denver Youth Basketball Lessons

Parents, you have plenty of choices these days on what to enroll your young child in for an extracurricular activity.  Even if you decide on your child playing sports, you still have a lot of options.  If you’re having a tough time deciding, let me suggest the game of Denver youth basketball as an option.  Here are some ways that basketball provides real-world benefit to your young child.

Dynamic Thinking and Motion

Basketball is one of the most dynamic team sports there is.  Basketball being the dynamic game that it is offers the chance to develop quick and critical thinking skills.  Each player is responsible for competing across the entire playing surface, playing both offense and defense, and making split-second decisions.  Soccer is also a dynamic game, but the position you play determines what part of the field you are responsible for.  Baseball and football are great sports, but they have rigid positions that don’t allow each player to experience each part of the game.  For instance only the pitcher gets to pitch in baseball and in football the quarterback is the only one who gets to make passes.  In basketball, at any given time your team may need you to score, pass, dribble, or rebound.  As a player you have to be ready for anything.  Also, the change from offense to defense is instantaneous, unlike in some other sports, so you always have to stay on your toes and react to ever-changing circumstances quickly.

Collaboration and Teamwork

Because offense and defense is played by all players and each player is eligible to fill any role on the court, you get a chance for great collaboration and teamwork in the game of basketball.  Learning to work with others for a common goal is a skill that can be forged through the fires of basketball competition.  In basketball, it is up to the coach and the players on the floor who will shoot or pass the ball each possession.  These decisions can be made on the fly by the players in reaction to what the opposing team is doing, or drawn up by the coach in a play that the players must execute.  On defense, teammates must communicate on-the-spot and help each other to keep the other team from scoring.  Since offense and defense are both played in a 5-on-5 free-flowing environment, it takes the collaboration of all 5 players’ skills and talents on both ends of the floor to achieve team success.

 Creativity and Excitement

As a basketball player, your son or daughter will learn to be creative and develop their unique strengths to affect the game in a positive way.  As a spectator watching basketball you will stay engaged and have a fun fan experience.  The game will be fun and allow for creativity because basketball has rules, but the rules are not as rigid as instructions for building a TV stand.  The rules are there as outer limits and allow a lot of fun and creativity inside of them, like the law of gravity.  We know gravity is there, but we also know it doesn’t stop us from flying in planes, skydiving, doing back flips and somersaults, and more.  Each player in basketball has a unique “game” they bring to the table, which gives players value outside of the traditional athletic measurables.  Just because your son or daughter is not the tallest, fastest or strongest doesn’t mean they can’t be great at the game of basketball.  Maybe your son or daughter will figure out how to become a creative, flashy passer or an exciting ball handler.  You really get to see your son or daughter’s personality come to life within the game, and that makes it an exciting game to watch.  Also, because basketball is a relatively higher scoring game than other organized sports like baseball, football and soccer, there is always the chance you might see a big comeback and an exciting finish.  You will be treated to acrobatic and creative passes and shot attempts on offense, and also exciting blocks and steals on the defensive end.

Aligning Strengths and Goals

Generally in basketball, players are good to great at a handful of things, and less good or great in other areas.  If your son is not a great shooter, that’s okay because he might be a great rebounder.  Kids who play basketball can get practice being dependable citizens by delivering their skills and talents for their team’s success on a game-to-game basis.  This can build self-esteem (it did for me) and teach them responsibility, albeit in a small way.  On the other hand, players can learn to depend on others in their weak areas.  For instance a player may be a great scorer but a poor defender.  His teammates can help cover for his shortcomings on defense while he helps deliver success on the offensive end.  Learning how to recognize and accept weaknesses and depend on others for help is a life skill that basketball can help develop.  Remember that in basketball, rare is the player who can do it all and rare is the player who can’t do anything right.  So your son or daughter will get the chance to be great and also look to teammates for help.

I could talk all day on the benefits of basketball for young kids.  I encourage you to try it out for your young child looking for a sport to play.  Contact your Denver basketball trainer or youth sports organization to learn more about the game overall, and about signing your child up for their first basketball league.  We can’t wait to see you and your child out there enjoying the game.

Denver Youth Basketball: Go From Good To Great


Denver Youth Basketball:

5 Things to Take Yourself from Good to Great Basketball Player

Many Denver Youth Basketball athletes that have peaked in their performance on or off the court ask coaches, “what is the main thing I can do to reach the next level?” The next level might be personal or it might be with the intent to help the team improve. Many coaches point out little skills or habits you can do but this article is intended to look at the big picture. This article isn’t only intended for just starters, all conference, or college recruits its intended for all basketball athletes to use to refocus their game.

  • Be willing to work on your game when no one else is watching. It takes quality reps when there is no one telling you what to do or how to do it. These reps are usually when no one is rebounding for you, motivating you to keep pushing at game speed, or making sure you technique is correct. This is when skills are truly learned and perfected.
  1. Be a grateful teammate. Whenever a teammate creates a play where you score, finishes a play that you created, or makes an unselfish play to help the team win show your gratitude and be happy for them. When possible give them the “finger point” or thank them during dead balls.  Use positive talk about not only their on-court accomplishments but their off court ones as well. This will help make you a likable teammate as well as someone your teammates look up to and want to go to battle with day in and day out.
  2. Look to play, practice with, and guard athletes better than you. Seek out where athletes that are better than you are playing. This could be varsity practice, a local college, or the best rec in town. Ask to guard the other team’s best player during games. You may not always have success doing this but you will learn fast. Afterward ask if they would be willing to play one on one sometime.
  3. Be hungry for coaching. Constantly strive to be taught new skills or have your current skills critiqued by qualified and experienced coaches. It’s key that you listen and are coachable once you learn what a coach thinks you should do.
  4. Look to bring others with you and to surround yourself with people that are good at your weaknesses and compliment your strengths. Truly successful athletes and leaders look to surround themselves with people that complement their strengths and help improve their weaknesses (not hide weaknesses; make sure you understand the difference). Great examples of this are Kevin Durant, Steve Nash, and Chauncey Billups. They also constantly look to elevate everyone else’s game or work ethic as well as their own. If you’re going to the gym bring your point guard with you to work on game situations or bring your big man with you to work on your inside out games together.

Denver Youth Basketball Players should work on moving their game from great.