10 Tips To Build and Nurture Your Feeder Systems and Youth Basketball Programs
How To Build a Feeder System Or Youth Basketball Program
In all five schools where Barry coached, he made it a priority to build a feeder system that supplied him with athletes who had the key skills he was looking for.
He didn't leave it to chance.
He admits that there are challenges in getting a good system going, but he emphasizes the blunt fact that you have no choice but to get it done.
Getting participation is obviously a priority, otherwise your whole feeder system is for not. Here are some tips to improve participation:
- Bring younger groups into some of your practices. You'll have opportunities to build closer ties
with their coaches, and you'll expose them to the higher skill levels they will need to make the
team later on. The younger kids idolize the high school players, too.
- Bring younger groups to some of your games. Again, this will reinforce program ties and will
give the kids a taste of the excitement that they could be a part of when they're older.
- Run a Christmas Vacation 3-day camp for your feeder community. This will give you a chance
to to work more extensively with the budding athletes. The fact that you take the time and
effort to do this for them will make a great impression on the kids and set them on a productive
- Showcase younger groups in halftime competitions at your games. This gives them a taste of
the spotlight and a chance to demonstrate their game to you, whose opinion they value
tremendously. Be sure to give them plenty of meaningful encouragement and feedback on these
- Attend games of your feeder teams. Seeing you in the stands will let them know that you are
interested in them and will give you a chance to monitor the culture that has been established.
- Build good lines of communication with the coaches in your feeder system. If you do the things
mentioned above, you'll have built in opportunities to debrief with them. Before you know it,
you'll have gained their respect, created allies, and found at least a few new good friends.
- Frequently and consistently talk and meet with coaches in the feeder system (this includes lower
level coaches in middle school and so on). This is VERY important. You MUST develop real
relationships with these people. This was a key to Barry's success. He got to know these
people on a personal level. In addition, he met with them frequently to learn about their needs,
get their opinion, and also communicate his vision. They met to solve problems, talk about
basketball, set goals, and improve the program. As consistent schedule is a must if you want
your feeder system to be successful.
- Expect your coaches to sell their program and activities. Barry believed that the coaches in
your program must sell. He did not accept the excuse that players didn't want to spend the time,
didn't think a skill was important, and so on. If a coach felt resistance, it was his job to sell the
players on the program! It's their job to get them involved! Of course Barry would give
coaches ideas and stories to help sell the program. But the point is that you should expect your
coaches to do that and not allow excuses.
- Start from the top down. As you sit down with coaches and go over what you expect them to
do, you should start at the top. Start with JV, then sophomores, then freshman, and work your
way down. You can't implement everything at once so you must prioritize in this manner.
- Documentation and checklists. As you go over things with coaches, give them jobs & tasks, make decisions, and set goals... be sure to document everything on paper. You and the coach both need this for reference. Print it out and save it so you can reference the documentation next time you talk. This is a must!!!