For Parents: Helping Your Child Reach Her or His Potential in Basketball

I have been hearing from an increasing number of parents that want to help their child improve their basketball skills and/or get more exposure for the child’s talents. What follows are my basic thoughts about parents helping their kids towards these pursuits. I do not have any kids but I have been the kid trying to make something out of my basketball abilities; now I speak to you as the professional basketball player, Internet-Famous knowledge-sharer and motivator,  and sometimes-trainer that talks to, listens to, and creates for the same children that you parents so badly wish to help. Onward:

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Dear Basketball Parents,

Greetings. I assume the reason you’re here is one of the following:

  • You want to help your child get on that AAU squad
  • Your kids should  get more playing time in school from that asshole coach
  • You want your child to get recruited by a college and continue her dream while receiving an education
  • You may not know much about the game, but as a parent you will do everything you can — whether that costs time, money, emotional support or reading some random YouTube guy’s website — to help make your son’s dream happen.

I commend you. My parents were the same way — willing to go to bat for their kids if it was for something both the child and parent believed in. You want your kid to have the opportunity to be whomever he wishes to be, even if it’s not something you ever thought they’d be into. Your daughter will probably not understand how lucky she is until she’s twice the age she is now. I didn’t get it back then. Be patient.

The first and last thing all of you parents need to understand is the hardest thing to understand. It deserves it’s own separate line of text.

You cannot want it for your child more than your child wants it for themselves.

I hear from parents quite often these days (I am writing this in March of 2013) and I think the parent correspondence will only increase with time. 98.7% (fake stat, but very close to accurate) of the parents I hear from, in reading your emails and Facebook wall posts, are breaking this rule without even knowing it. Actually let’s amend that: your child has been complicit in allowing you to break this rule. Thing is, they don’t have the power nor the permission to stop you.

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The parent-child dynamic is not like a normal working relationship. I can’t reply to your kid in a YouTube comment with,

“Take the reigns from your parents and handle things on your own. Tell your mom to leave your basketball life to you, go sit down and read a book.”

Based on the way I was raised, following that advice would not work, to say the least.

You, as the parent, must realize the importance of the large-font sentence above and fall back by choice. Your child (if you’re reading this, parent, I do mean your child) cannot and will not tell you to step aside. You’ve always been the one to go to bat for little Johnny, it’s all he knows. Johnny won’t learn to bat for himself until you step out of the box and find a seat in the bleachers. If he strikes out, you can still clap for him and yell, “Good job!! Good effort!!” . When he’s out there with players that are all better than him and he’s getting his ass kicked, remain seated and watch him take the ass-kicking. The sooner he takes it, looks up and realizes that you’re right there but won’t help him, the sooner he will realize that he has to do it on his own. Compliment his efforts and accomplishments but withhold the advice unless it’s asked for. As an adult, surely you know, this will pay off for Johnny (and for your parent-child relationship) in the long run.

If your child is under age 16 (or has not yet reach her junior year of high school), it is too early for you, parent, to be pushing for them to “get better,” “reach their dream/potential,” or “get exposure”. Yes there are exceptions — every year or so some 8-year old goes viral on social media for his incredible dribbling skills, the campaign always piloted by an ambitious adult. How many of those kids go on to actually become full-grown stars? Not many. And it’s not because the attention killed them or burned them out (though that is possible). It’s because,

Kids don’t know what they want to do or who they want to be.

At age 13 I was changing my mind every 72 hours about what I was gonna do with my life. I tried my hand, literally, at drawing and playing keyboards because my dad was great at both. I started reading a lot of books because my mom did and was an educator. My sister could sing, so I wrote a few raps (don’t even ask). None of that panned out, as I was a kid being a kid — trying things out to see how I felt about them, and moving on as I chose. A 15-or-under child being pushed to “reach his potential” in basketball is being done a disservice by you. If he wants to reach it, he will. Remember,

You cannot want it for your child more than your child wants it for themselves.

Burn this mantra into your consciousness. Repeat it through deep breaths when you start to force yourself on situations that you should not, because no one will tell you you can’t. You have the toughest policing job in existence — policing yourself.
So, the net time your child complains to you about their playing time or how that traveling team rejected him, tell your child the same thing I would tell him:

#WOYG

(That means, “Work On Your Game.”) 

 

Dre ‘DreAllDay’ Baldwin

 

4 Comments

  1. fashionfaire says:

    Yes, I have posted several videos on youtube.com of my son Christian Felder No. 3 playing high school basketball, Christian Felder no. 3 playing high school basketball highlights, Christian Felder no. 33 edited (if you wanna see some serious jumpers), etc. My son has a passion for basketball and I’m trying to help him accomplish that goal. He has potential please feel free to view some and let me know what you think. g.felder63@gmail.com, g.felder63@yahoo.com. Thanks

  2. jamal says:

    he i’m 11 years old and i wonder i you can help me with my handles because and my brother keep on saying work on my handles cause every time i got his practices cause he’s a coach and every time i go he always times me at the end of his practices and see how many dribbles can i do in a minute and i had a game friday and i have a game this friday and everyone else to me that i dribble good but like my grandma told me no body perfect but god

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