Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Coaches these days

Or maybe the more appropriate title is "youth basketball these days."

Let me first state my general lack of expertise in youth sports: I am not an expert in youth sports. I've doen the requisite reading but do not have an in-depth knowledge of the workings of youth sport.
Say youth sports in the form of AAU basketball, the subject (kind of) of this article which, ok, is mostly about Geno Auriemma.
Coach feels like kids, I would assume girls specifically since those are the players he is interested in, are not trying very hard these days when they are on the court:
"I think what's happened in the AAU world in the last 10 years or so is kids don't play to win. They just play to play. They show up at a tournament on Friday and play a couple games. They play four or five more on Saturday, then play all morning Sunday before the leave."
Hmm...perhaps the problem is that these girls are playing nearly 10 games in one weekend. One of the commenters to the article pointed out that this format practically mandates a different version of coaching based on keeping players fresh and basically picking one's battles.
It doesn't sound like a system that is set up to showcase the talents of its players. So what is it set up to do? What is the purpose of playing a 10-game tournament in one weekend? I am genuinely asking.
Because with all the talk of burnout, it would seem the system isn't working for a lot of people--including Geno Auriemma who is complaining about finding those go-all-out girls in the ever-more-intense recruiting game.
He's also not happy with those independent-minded ones who ask why when he tells them to do something.
A good time to note I am not an expert in coaching techniques either. I am, however, pretty well versed in issues of gender and social construction. And I worry about the guy in women's intercollegiate basketball (and arguably beyond the intercollegiate ranks) sending the message that the only young women he'll take into his program are the ones that say "yes, sir" all the time. There's a difference between questioning and being obstinate and antagonistic. Teaching both women and men of this age group, one of the biggest issues I have (and my colleagues do as well) is the lack of critical thinking. I do not believe that critical thinking is so antithetical to basketball that Auriemma would want only yes women on his team.
Another of the commenters, responding to a critic of Auriemma (and no, it wasn't me) said that Auriemma must be a great coach because all his players speak well of him after they leave. Well sure if he's recruiting the women whom he believes won't think for themselves, that they don't critique him afterwards isn't really surprising.

No comments: