Basketball players are broken down before they get to college (article)



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Basketball is a bit unique, in my experience.

I was fortunate enough to play basketball in college (and everything before: HS, AAU, travel, etc.) and my back was a disaster by the time I was 20. I didn't finish my college career because of it. In hindsight, I'm convinced the biggest problem wasn't all of the organized ball; it was the countless hours of pickup at parks May-Oct. Concrete/asphalt/whatever is absolutely horrible for your body if you're running and jumping. Your knees and your back, your ankles too. I gave up playing outside by the time I was 25. I tried playing once in my 30s and stopped after the first game.

So in HS, during the off-season, we'd have one or two weeknight practices for AAU (assuming it was that time of the year), games on the weekends, and then the other days we'd be at the park for 3+ hours. Ball was life. If AAU wasn't in-season and it wasn't warm enough outside we'd be at a local rec center almost every night. That's something that other sports don't have. You can't find quality pickup soccer, baseball, or football games at any time like you can with basketball. You may not be involved in the organized, crazy aspect of the youth development/showcase scene on those days but you are still putting a ton miles on your body. Hell, some days at the park playing 3-4 hours was more intensive than any AAU practice I ever participated in.
Yes! This is what I'm saying... basketball is way more individual and park time than other sports (in the USA at least).

My absolute favorite thing about the game of basketball is that it isn't just practice and games. There are still thousands of kids in NYC out every night just playing because they love it. You don't see that with soccer or baseball here.
 

nelsonmuntz

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Basketball is a bit unique, in my experience.

I was fortunate enough to play basketball in college (and everything before: HS, AAU, travel, etc.) and my back was a disaster by the time I was 20. I didn't finish my college career because of it. In hindsight, I'm convinced the biggest problem wasn't all of the organized ball; it was the countless hours of pickup at parks May-Oct. Concrete/asphalt/whatever is absolutely horrible for your body if you're running and jumping. Your knees and your back, your ankles too. I gave up playing outside by the time I was 25. I tried playing once in my 30s and stopped after the first game.

So in HS, during the off-season, we'd have one or two weeknight practices for AAU (assuming it was that time of the year), games on the weekends, and then the other days we'd be at the park for 3+ hours. Ball was life. If AAU wasn't in-season and it wasn't warm enough outside we'd be at a local rec center almost every night. That's something that other sports don't have. You can't find quality pickup soccer, baseball, or football games at any time like you can with basketball. You may not be involved in the organized, crazy aspect of the youth development/showcase scene on those days but you are still putting a ton miles on your body. Hell, some days at the park playing 3-4 hours was more intensive than any AAU practice I ever participated in.
Pro tip for anyone over 30 that still plays ball. DO NOT PLAY IN PARKS. I am terrified of getting knocked down or just losing my balance, because if I go down on pavement, there is a decent chance that something is going to break. I am a "gyms only" basketball player from now on.

I play 2-3 times a week, and still get nagging injuries, but I will never play in a park again, and I do not encourage kids to do it either. Parks are good for shooting around or just goofing, but I don't like games in parks. Injury risk is too high.
 

John

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Soccer is like a cult. I lost one of my best players to it because the program demanded every player play winter soccer or they would lose their spot on the team.
yes, very much. The clubs are weird, the coaches are weird, many of the families are weird. Also have seen way too many adults taking it way too seriously.
 

CL82

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Daughter's friend across the street was basketball and soccer, and finally gave up soccer after her 4th or 5th concussion last year.
I had a great kid who played for me. He wasn't the fastest or the quickest kid initially but he was big (and a little thick) but a decent overall athlete. He loved playing and in short order the bulk of his friends were his teammates. We ended up using him in goal. At first he was, uh, a little "porous" but worked at it and eventually became a solid goalie. He got drilled in the head and went out with concussion protocol. Still went to every game and was a great kid to have on the bench talking up the other players, letting know what he saw, etc.

When he came back he was better than ever. His IQ was up and he did a good job of directing the defense. Then he had concussion #2. Same drill, still at every game, still a great teammate. He got cleared to play wearing one of those soft helmets, which he hated, but took in stride. Per his parents request we moved him to defense and eventually sweeper. He'd matured and his fitness was now good. He did well, until concussion #3. His parents understandably pulled him.

He started doing drama stuff, which he enjoyed, but he was one of those kids that like everything. He just had a great attitude. He ended up on Broadway in Newsies. Until concussion #4... no just kidding. He actually just graduated from Harvard.

I recognize this has next to nothing to do with this thread, but I like the kid and the story.
 
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Aside from all of this, my anecdotal observation of friends with kids who are heavy into sports, is that it robs both them and the family of time. Friends of ours recently traveled for a travel softball league game scheduled on July 4. That's just total BS. There is no need for that. All of these youth sports need to reduce the practice time, reduce the game scheduling and ensure that kids and families have time to go to the beach and do normal things. This stuff is all consuming.

And while multi-sports may be good physically for balance, you are adding to the pounding the kid takes and again reducing the downtime. When do they read a book? Daughter's friend across the street was basketball and soccer, and finally gave up soccer after her 4th or 5th concussion last year. She just finished 10th grade.
This is actually the least of my concerns. Sports means we spend a lot more time together than other families I know.

My daughter is a good student, and the interesting thing is that since her injury, with a lot of downtime on her hands (instead of being scheduled to be in precise places and having set times for homework everyday) her homework suffered. And her grades a little bit. I talked with a parent who accepted a spot for his daughter to the top NY team outside NYC. It required a lot of travel and carpooling for practice. I turned down a similar offer for my daughter precisely because of the travel, even though the team is subsidized and the tuition considerably cheaper than her current team. When i checked in with the parent, he said all the carpool girls do homework in the car, where they are not allowed to talk, and that her grades rose a lot (B+ to an A student).

We really spend a lot of time together because of sports.
 
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Read Just Let the Kids Play: How to Stop Other Adults from Ruining Your Child's Fun and Success in Youth Sports by former Celtic, Bob Bigelow
I can't say I'll read it but I will say youth sports are insidious and that anyone who tells you there are ways to resist is lying. Yes, tell your kids to join a team full of kids who can't make a simple pass. See how that goes over. You go up and up the ladder, you get sucked in, until you reach a point where you have to say no for the good of everyone. But the road to the breaking point is a long one not easily resisted. I have talked to my kids about going back to the saner conditions of travel. I never have drama or issues with my kids, but even broaching the subject was almost like death.
 
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And the crazy this is a lot of these kids aren't even that good.

If you're going to be getting a college scholarship... okay, kind of makes sense in the long run, even if it is a pain. Little Jimmy who is going to play through HS and nothing else? Come on.
The clubs that do this are high end and have a track record. It is also a demand of US Soccer teams affiliated with the DA. This is mainly a problem on the boy's side where the tie with US Soccer is long established, but on the girl's side there are fewer DA teams so it's not a big problem.

But, I will say that 80% of our club's girls on the top team get college scholarships, so parents do see the incentive (although personally I could make a dozen arguments why these scholarships are not all they are cracked up to be -- like, half scholarships at schools your kid doesn't necessarily want to even go to! All the money you spend on soccer doesn't add up even when you get a scholarship). Of the 18 girls on the team, only 4 or 5 landed full D1 scholarships. The rest essentially picked over the scraps (hate to sound so condescending about half scholarships, but the truth is many schools give half scholarships to a kid just for breathing).
 
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It's not one sport. Most sports have issues with steering kids to playing year round or almost year round. In my opinion, if the commitment is 10 months at age 12 or 13, then it is year round. I see this is basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer, golf, lacrosse, ... And, "elite" teams can have different rules of participation. Some elite teams require kids to make every practice and every game or they will get suspended.

I have written about this before. I was part of a group of parents that formed an AAU baseball team as the parents wanted the kids to be able to play multiple sports as we had a number of hockey and basketball players on the team and they were going to miss practices and some games. We hired a professional coach and rented facilities. Our costs were much lower (youth sports can be very profitable) and we never had a problem attracting kids as our model was what the kids and parents wanted.
 

ClifSpliffy

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people in pro sports? a few thousands.
people in bigtime college sports? a few tens of thousands.
people in America? 330 millions.
parents and adults are the cause of training mania. sorry, but your kid ain't gettiin paid.
coaching middle school bball a few years back, every so often a parent would come at me with 'where's the handout/manual for home training?' id say 'I told them in practice what to do if they wanted homework. situps, swimming, and ride a bicycle. it's a great life routine whether you're 8 or 80, along with walking. if you think im gonna tell your kid to weight train or etc. before college age, well, guess what? your kid ain't getting paid either, so I aiin't gonna be the one to waste their childhood on 'training.' some would call me 'coach mess around' cuz often I finish practice with 'ok, we're done here. go home and mess around, but try not to get hurt, knuckleheads.' it was troubling to learn how few children had climbed a tree, but every now and then I did have mandatory kite flying practice. in the beginning, guaranteed to have 1 or 2 parental calls for my dismissal every season, but over time that stopped cuz word got out that the hoops program was fun. they're only kids once.
 

Mr. Wonderful

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soccer is the worst example of this - clubs demand the kid doesn't do other sports and focus entirely on soccer. My kids have to sneak around when they've wanted to try other things, it's ridiculous. I really hate youth soccer in the US
Agreed. A lot of it is pushed by US Soccer as well. It's ridiculous.
 
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soccer is the worst example of this - clubs demand the kid doesn't do other sports and focus entirely on soccer. My kids have to sneak around when they've wanted to try other things, it's ridiculous. I really hate youth soccer in the US
Similar experience. When my son was 10 he wanted to play club soccer. Took him to the tryout and they offered him a spot on the top team. Told us that training started the middle of August. Games and practices in the fall. Break between Thanksgiving and Jan. 1. Then training and indoor games all winter. Spring games and practices through Memorial Day weekend.

He asked if he could still play basketball and baseball. Not likely. So he said he wasn't giving up baseball and basketball and he went back to our town soccer travel team. I found it ridiculous that they were basically forcing a 10 year old to specialize in one sport.
 
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