The Reason This Legendary Coach Waited 20 Years to Judge His Team's Success

By Jeff Huber

Alonzo Stagg was a famous football coach in the early 1900's. After winning a championship, he was asked what he thought of his team.

"I'll tell you in 20 years," he replied.

The first time I heard that story, I was stopped in my tracks. It's powerful. Here's someone at the peak of his profession saying he can't judge how well he coached his team until he sees what type of men they become.

All coaches should have this outlook.

At Breakthrough Basketball Camps, we believe character development is a major part of what we do.

As you look for the right camp for your child, find one that will make them not just a better player but also a better person.

The Rise of Character Issues in Sports (And What You Can Do About it)

I live in Ohio. In recent years, our high school athletic association has increased the penalties for behavior that results in ejections. This applies to players, coaches, and fans.

When asked why they were doing so, the director said that it was in response to the rapidly increasing number of ejections.

That is sad but not surprising.

My third-grade daughter recently played her first AAU tournament. On the first day of games, there were two altercations I witnessed between coaches and parents.

When kids see this, they think this is acceptable behavior. A quick search of social media will show youth players taunting and acting inappropriately.

All this goes to show that it's not a foregone conclusion that "sports build character". It may be more accurate to say they reveal it, UNLESS intentional steps are taken to develop it.

At some point, the ball will stop bouncing for everyone, even those who are good enough to play professionally. At that point, they will still have many years ahead of them.

Have they been taught more than how to put the ball through the hoop? Hopefully. . . and if not, that's not just their failure but also the failure of those who coached them.

3 Reasons Why Camps Should Prioritize Character Skills

All coaches should focus on building character. However, we know that's not the case. When the games start and people are keeping score, it's easy to turn all our attention to the score.

But we must be better! If not, we won't stop this trend of bad behavior.

People talk about 'kids these days'. I would say it's more of 'adults these days'. This is learned behavior! And adults are the guilty culprits.

It's time to flip the script. Basketball camps can be part of that solution.

Yes, camps should teach shooting, dribbling, and passing. You send your child to camp to become better at basketball.

But you should expect more. You should expect them to come back as better people, too.

Camps offer a great setting to teach skills like work ethic, selflessness, and leadership.

Here are 3 reasons why camps are a great setting for character building:

  • Winning isn't a factor - earlier I cited this as a reason why character building gets pushed to the back burner. Even well-intentioned coaches get blinded by the score.
  • At camp, the focus is not on winning or losing. It's on getting better. This allows players and coaches to keep the main thing the main thing.

    They can be intentional about character building and make it a part of every day. Building character is part of the daily win at a good camp.

  • Camps are hard - because camps are hard, good character matters more. When you are working on your game for a half or full day, it's going to be tough.
  • Those who have resilience, a strong work ethic, and a growth mindset are going to fare better and get more out of the camp.

    So teaching those skills not only helps in the long run but also helps make the camp experience better.

  • The value of a different voice - as a parent, you know that sometimes your child just needs to hear it from a different voice. This is also true for coaches.
  • It can be a great thing for players to hear the same thing from a different coach.

    Maybe your son or daughter is lucky enough to play for a coach who emphasizes character. If so, they are blessed.

    Even then, hearing the same thing from a new voice can help cement it. It adds credibility when they realize those qualities are valued by not just their coach, but other coaches, too.

From Court to Life: The Character Lessons Your Child Will Learn at Our Breakthrough Camps

At Breakthrough, we believe we offer the best teaching camps around. If you entrust us to teach your child the game, we are confident they will come back as a more skilled and confident player.

But our commitment goes beyond that. We also believe they will come back with stronger character.

Character development is a core part of our camps. It is included in every curriculum.

Every day starts with character reminders. This puts it front and center in their minds.

Each day ends with a character word of the day. The word that ends one day begins the next, keeping it fresh.

Throughout the week, campers are exposed to thoughtful quotes that stress the importance of character.

Those who exhibit strong character traits are celebrated throughout the week.

Through these multiple exposures and positive reinforcements, campers develop a deeper belief in the importance of character in athletics.

The goal is for this to carry over into all aspects of their lives.

While the following list isn't comprehensive, here are some key character-building skills you can expect your child to learn and develop at a Breakthrough Basketball camp:

  • Resilience
  • Selflessness
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Growth mindset
  • Work ethic
  • Integrity
  • Accountability
  • Adaptability
  • Empathy
  • Courage
  • Sportsmanship
  • Discipline
  • Humility
  • Determination
  • Communication

Stronger Values, Stronger Players: The Dual Benefits of Character Development

It's true that a big goal of youth sports should be to build character traits that last long after the game ends.

But I'd be remiss if I didn't point out how strong character will also make your son or daughter a better player!

Who will fare better, a player who is resilient in the face of adversity or one who gives in? One who works hard at all times or only when convenient? One who cares about their teammates or one who only cares about themself?

The answers are obvious. When playing against a player of similar skill, size, and athleticism, character often is the difference.

So by building it, your child will become a better player and a better person. If they leave camp having accomplished that, I'd say that's a heck of a week.

My Personal Perspective on Why Character Matters More Than Points

A lot of camps can teach basketball (some better than others). As you look for how to best help your child, make sure they are learning more than just skills and drills.

All of us love seeing our child be successful in their play. But it's even more rewarding to see that combined with good character.

At my daughter's AAU tournament, she ran into a girl on the other team who she had never met before. The girl fell and hurt her ankle. My daughter immediately ran over to console her and hold her hand while they waited for an adult to come check on her.

That moment meant more to me than any shot she made.

It is my hope that in 20 years she will be a person of strong character, and that her sports experience will be one of the reasons why!

Check out our upcoming Breakthrough Basketball Camps. Your child will improve on and off the court!

What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...


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