Parents are always on the lookout for ways they can help their kids improve at the sports that they love. Most parents know that a great time for significant skill improvements comes during the off-season. A track that many folks seem to take is to try to increase the amount of instruction and competition via camps, clinics, private instruction and additional league play. But, as the myths below highlight, this isn’t always the best approach.
Improving Your Game: 5 Youth Sports Myths
MYTH 1: Players must compete with the best at the highest level to improve.
Can you learn something from playing against a superior player or playing with great players? Absolutely. Is it the most efficient way to get better? No. Take the sport of basketball as an example – who touches the ball the most on any team? Most always, it’s the best players. So, if you’re not one of the strongest players, you’re likely getting a lot fewer touches. More touches equate to more opportunities to get better.
Playing against stronger competition can improve aspects of your game, but it’s far from being the best solution for your off-season workout. Players’ time is better spent on “sharpening the saw” and strengthening their tool set. The regular season is typically full of games. The off-season is players’ time to get ready for those games.
MYTH 2: The right summer camp is the silver bullet.
Look, there are good camps and bad camps. Good camps can be very valuable, but they’re also usually fairly expensive. Much of the valuable practice time that can be gained at a camp can be done closer to home, at a time that works best for the players and their families.
Learn from the pros basketball players. The best NBA players devote much of their season preparation to individual workouts or workouts with one or two other players. They identify what they need to work on (or want to work on) from an individual perspective, and get in a lot of repetitions. They can tailor their workouts to their individual needs.
MYTH 3: To improve, all they need to do is just play ball.
There’s always the old school, ex-player who will announce that all kids need to get ready for the season is to go out and play. While pick-up games should be a part of an off-season program, it’s not the only thing players should work on.
Suppose a basketball player wants to work on their off-hand drives to the basket. During a game with friends they have the opportunity to try it 5 – 10 times over the course of an hour. If they’re practicing on their own, they might be able to practice it 50 – 100 times as part of their program. The increased practice repetitions at game speed leads to quicker improvement.
MYTH 4: An intense immersion will yield the best results.
Camps and clinics are typically held for a few set number of days. A camp might last a week and a clinic a day or a weekend. But, individual workouts can spread over many weeks.
Young players improve the most with some consistency. Instead of 15 hours of intense playing day over a few days, it’s better to spread out those 15 hours over 15 days. Muscle memory is improved with the lengthened time, and it becomes more of a routine.
MYTH 5: Spending a good chunk of money and devoting time to driving is the price a sports parent must pay.
During school, students don’t improve most by adding more tests (think more games) or more instruction (think more camps and clinics). Where a lot of the real learning takes place is via homework. Students work by themselves or with 1 or 2 friends to build on strengths and address weaknesses.
Off-season workouts don’t need to be costly and time-consuming (for players and parents). Repetition and keeping kids motivated is the key.
One solution is MVP Offseason Workouts. Available for $23.99, these programs are available for basketball, baseball, football, general fitness and softball.
“These offseason workout programs provide step-by-step, structured programs that players can complete in 6 or 9 weeks from their own homes and neighborhoods,” said MVP Offseason Workouts founder Mike O’Halloran, “Players spend less time in cars and more time actually practicing.”
What’s surprising to most parents is that despite being far less expensive than camps, clinics, private instruction and additional league play, individual workouts are the best way for most players to advance their skills.
Do you really think that Stephen Curry picked up that handle and shooting expertise from just attending a camp? Hours of individual workouts make the best players the best!