Coaching Grade School Basketball

There was a time when schools handled their sports and some how I got involved with grade school basketball. Actually, my son went to St. Marys and when they needed a coach, I volunteered. I ended up coaching for about 8 years there and a few years for other schools like Stevens & McDermott.

Before I actually started, I had this mentality to run a drill camp style practice and “run them into the ground” like Bobby Knight. Luckily I woke up before I was able to ruin the kids idea of school sports and basketball. Sure, we did conditioning. We had structure. But we also had fun.

Before each season, I sent a letter home to parents:

Dear Parents,

It is my pleasure to be allowed to coach the basketball team this year. This is my 10th year as a “head coach” and I have been an assistant coach for my mom in Everett.

I believe that school sports are vital to a child’s growth and development. Studies show that children who participate in school sports are less prone to negative peer pressure and have higher levels of self-esteem than children who do not participate. School sports can boost a child’s academic performance and provide students with a way to feel proud of themselves and their capabilities. They can help a child release pent-up frustration and energy, develop social skills, and discover talents, abilities, and interests.

Basketball is a great sport for kids and it can be a very physical sport. We will be doing basic drills for conditioning and endurance and we will do various dribbling, shooting and ball handling exercises to establish proper form. A lot of running will be involved and basketball basics are my focus at this age.

Being on a team means more than just showing up and playing. It also means discipline, responsibility, teamwork, self-confidence and sportsmanship. I am hoping to contribute to your child’s development in these areas to make them a great player on and off the court.

I will not bench a player for their lack of ability. I will bench a player for lack of respect towards the coach, parents, teammates, players, other coaches, etc. I believe that all the kids should play. Winning is not the prime consideration at this age. Having said that, I also think that it is unfair to the kids that come to all the practices for a player who frequently misses practices to expect as much playing time in games.

Another important part of participating in any school sport is to maintain acceptable grades. If your player finds it difficult to do both, then the appropriate measures will be taken by the school to reiterate that grades come first and that basketball is a privilege.

I am looking forward to teaching our children this magnificent game of basketball and I hope they will learn the fundamentals to use in their future years in school, at home and in their lives in general. Our practices will be ‘open practices’ so you may come and watch but please refrain from coaching from the sidelines at practices & games. It is not fair to our player to have to decide if they should listen to coach or mom or dad.

The only other thing I ask from parents is to support me and your player this season. Please do not “coach from the sidelines” at games and let your player follow instructions from the coach even though you may disagree with my philosophies.

Players need a practice shirt, shorts and decent sneakers for practice (most T-Shirts, shorts, shoes will do). If this poses a problem, please let me know so we can work something out.

My goal is not to win a championship trophy. The journey is more important than the finish line. It’s the fun, good and bad experiences and work along the way that will be the most valuable to their personal growth. If our team has prepared, worked hard, played fair, gave it our best effort along the way and had fun then I will be proud and satisfied and I think you will be too.

If your child cannot participate due to financial setbacks please contact me and I will make confidential arrangements to help.

Johnny Manson ‘The Coach’

Parents were all pretty good about my philosophies. Some just wanted a babysitter which I told them I was NOT.

I wanted to teach how to win AND how to lose. Being able to lose and not make excuses but to work harder is far better than to try to justify the other teams desire to win by saying anything but the truth. Did that even make sense?

I noticed some coaches had a hard time with losing. We were an equal time league yet some coaches would ONLY play their best players until they were winning. If they were losing, they would bench their players and play the “stars”. To me, it showed just how much they DIDN’T care about the kids and cared more for their own egos. Even some parents on opposing teams were a bit overbearing some even moronic but hey, so are many people in general right?

Anyway, I still see some of my old players out and about. Most being productive members of society and they still say “hey coach!”.

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