Coaching Corner: Inspiring kids to embrace all facets of the game
By Greg Bach
Years ago former NBA guard Kevin Gamble received some great advice that he’s never forgotten.
And it’s incredibly valuable coaching insight to share with today’s young players, too.
“My coaches told me a long time ago on those days when your shot isn’t going in to go do something else – go get a rebound, go get a steal, or play harder defense,” says Gamble, who spent the majority of his 10-year NBA career with the Boston Celtics and is currently an assistant basketball coach at Central Michigan University. “I teach our guys that now, too. Your shot is not always going to go in and I’ve had those days over the years when I was playing.”
So, by getting players to embrace other facets of the game your team will enjoy more success and you’ll develop more well-rounded and confident players in the process.
“I try to tell players that everybody can’t score 25 points a game, but you can make your team better by doing the little things,” says Gamble, who played with the legendary Celtics’ trio of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish. “You can work hard, you can rebound and you can set screens. There are a lot of things you can do to contribute to make your team better.”
By recognizing and highlighting youngsters who are setting screens to free a teammate for an open shot, or are grabbing those rebounds that lead to a fast-break basket, kids will discover skills they are good at and enjoy executing on game days. Plus, they’ll feel a stronger attachment to the team through these new-found contributions.
And that bodes well for establishing team chemistry, teaching teamwork – and being a team that’s going to be tough to play against because your players embrace all aspects of the game.
CRAFTING FUN PRACTICES
“Even at our level with college athletes we do shooting games that are fun and competitive,” Gamble says. “At the younger level, whether it’s dribbling, shooting or whatever you are doing you’ve got to make it fun.”
PATIENCE AND FAIRNESS
“If I could give volunteer coaches any advice it would be to be patient and to be fair,” Gamble says.
“If I can give parents any advice it’s to let the coaches coach,” Gamble says. “You have to realize that all of these kids can’t be NBA players or WNBA players.”
LEARNING FROM A LEGEND
Gamble played college basketball at the University of Iowa, where in the ’87 NCAA tournament his game-winning buzzer beater against Oklahoma sent the Hawkeyes to the Elite Eight.
And while at Iowa City he played for legendary coach Dr. Tom Davis.
“He was the type of coach who wasn’t a yeller and a screamer,” Gamble says. “But he still got the best out of you on the basketball court. He was more of a psychologist and sociologist; he would make you think about things.”
“My coaches made the game fun so I was comfortable around them,” Gamble says. “It wasn’t like it was work. So when I look back now as a grown-up I realize how good of people they were and that they wanted to work with young kids.”
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