When Newbies and Experienced Players Collide


We got this great comment from a sports mom the other day on our post about overcoming first year jitters as a youth athlete and just had to share it! It’s probably safe to say that a lot of sports parents have been in a situation similar to this basketball mom.

My son is 10, and is in his first season of basketball through the local rec center. There are 8 kids on his team, 4 who are really experienced and 4 who are not. The experienced players will only pass to each other, so the newer kids rarely get to touch the ball. Any advice?

In another recent post we asked if sports leagues should bother keeping score and a lot of When Newbies and Experienced Players Collidethe responses we got both here on our blog as well as other social sites said that in younger leagues it’s not terribly necessary but as kids get older and more competitive it’s worth keeping score. At 10 years old it’s possible that some of these boys have been playing basketball for 3-4 year at this point and probably take the game pretty seriously (or at least as seriously as a ten year old can). Chances are these boys really want to win and they know that the more times the 4 experienced players get their hands on the ball the better chance they have of winning, right? And while there is nothing wrong with wanting to win that does leave the four newer players out in the cold.

Since there are only 5 basketball players per team on the court at a time it probably didn’t take too long for this sports mom to notice the unusual (and disheartening) pattern amongst the more experience players. So what’s a basketball mom to do?

Our best piece of advice would be to talk to the coach. There is always the possibility that he doesn’t notice the four experienced players tend to pass the ball amongst themselves. Some basketball coaches are just glad to see their players passing at all! But at the end of the day he is the one controls who is on the court at any given moment and he can easily move players around to make sure that the more experienced players and the “newbies” are all on the court at the same time (maybe 2 experienced and 3 new). This encourages the two sets of teammates to work together. The coach could also pay more attention during practice and make sure that the experienced kids aren’t always partnering up with each other for drills.

A word to the wise—make sure that if you find yourself in this situation you become a champion for all the newbies, not just your own child!

Basketball truly is a team sport that needs to involve everyone. Unlike a huge PeeWee football team where there could easily be a dozen players on the field at any given moment (and everyone has a very specific job to do) a five man basketball team is a much more tight-knit group that really needs to trust each other.

What advice do you have for this basketball mom and other sports parents in similar situations?