"Non-Profitable" Approach To Youth Coaching

This might sound a bit strange...

But when you're a youth or middle school coach... the history of Amazon (yes, the company) can actually provide a bit of guidance and perhaps even inspiration.

Actually, any coach that is involved with a youth program can find this story very inspirational... whether it's a high school coach or college/professional club coach mentoring other youth coaches in their program.

Let me explain...

Despite being launched all the way back in 1994... and going public in 1997... Amazon never once turned a profit until 2003... nearly a decade after its inception!

And even after that, it was still touch-and-go... with the company's profitability very much in doubt...

As late as 2013... even the NASDAQ (the stock exchange where Amazon stock is traded) was questioning Amazon's future... writing an article entitled "Will Amazon Ever Make Money?" and actually warning, "Amazon is a stock investors should avoid."

Pretty amazing! And we all know what's happened since then!

So what does this have to do with coaching youth basketball?

See, as a youth coach you should be like an investor back in the late-90s and early-2000s that was focused squarely on Amazon's future potential... so they can reach their full potential down the road...

Even if that means sacrificing wins in the present.

For example, I recommend that you should...

  • Stick with man-to-man defense to build sound fundamentals... rather than play zone that may net more wins, but will stifle development (more on this here).
  • Play all kids meaningful minutes... Excluding effort and attitude issues that need corrected... Under the age of 11, playing time should be relatively equal. For middle school, typically ages 11 to 14, you should aim for at least 1/3 of the game for each player. (Expanded explanation on this topic here).
  • Spend at least 75% of practice time on skill development and universal offensive and defensive concepts...
  • Don't pigeonhole players - develop the same skills in all players no matter their current height or position you envision them playing in the future. This is why I'm a big fan of the 5-out offense while giving players the freedom to post up if they choose. (More info on this here).
  • Focus on an offense that teaches concepts rather than plays.


Next time a parent gets on you about not winning enough...

Just think about Amazon... and realize that by focusing on the children's development in the present... you're setting them up to realize their full potential down the road.

Next week, we have a really cool story to share with you from Mark Brase. We think you'll really enjoy it!


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