Why Every Coach & Parent Needs To Copy Frank Kaminsky's Dad

If you watched college basketball last year, you'll know that Frank Kaminsky led the Wisconsin Badgers to the Final Four and was named the West Regional Most Outstanding Player.

This year, he is one of the top player of the year candidates and ESPN has him ranked as the #1 college basketball player.

He is also a projected NBA lottery pick next year.

Why Is Frank Kaminsky A Superstar College Player and Projected NBA Lottery Pick?

Quite simply, he is a 7’0” basketball player that can pass, dribble, and shoot. He can go out on the perimeter and play like a guard. Or he can dominate down low like a post player.

You don’t see many of those players.

Well, how did this happen? Why is he a rarity?

What did he do as a youth player?

His dad coached his youth team from 4th grade to 8th grade. Frank’s dad did not believe in assigning positions at the youth level. All players played all positions and worked on all skills.

As a high school senior, Frank even played some point guard due to injuries on his team.

In our article, Why Every Youth Coach Should Avoid Assigning Positions, we talk about the same thing in more detail. We explain how Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant played all positions as youth players. And how this helped them develop into the dominate players they are today.

This is a big reason that we developed our website and free newsletter. We want to change what is currently the exception to the common way of doing things.

We wanted to inform people about common mistakes in today’s youth basketball environment and show them a better way.

We wanted to also give players, parents, and coaches a resource where they could see the right shooting, passing, ball handling, and footwork skills being taught. That’s also why we developed our Breakthrough Basketball Camps.

Let us know what you think!

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


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Dan says:
3/20/2015 at 7:29:44 AM

I agree to keep the team together. I also agree that 3rd grade may be too early to be playing in tournaments, though, pushing kids to max out their potential is always great.

Be explicit that one teams focus is on scoring and that the others is on execution and skill development. Set and manage expectations.


CGilbert says:
3/16/2015 at 10:34:11 PM

One of the big issues, I see is that 3rd graders don't need to be playing in leagues and tournaments at all!
They are way better off practicing on fundamental skills so that they really have a solid foundation once they do get up into the 6-8th grades.
Kids in 3rd/4th grade are quite content to be able to come together once a week for an hour to learn and practice skills. It doesn't sound like the number of kids is a problem.

Finishing off a practice by picking teams - line-up by height and count off by 3's or 4's. Rotate teams in every 5-7 minutes, and they're big-time happy that everybody gets to play.

I think when you really look into what and how long kids that age are able to concentrate on, then you'd see that they'd get the most out of your coaching by building that solid foundation. Be patient, let them enjoy the sport with their friends. The more they learn to play together, the more successful they're going to be at the high school level when it's more competitive. (And I hate to bust some bubbles, but less than 6% of high school basketball players continue on to the next level.)

My philosophy is: "Kids have to have enough fun in a sport to stay with it long enough to get good."

  1 reply  

Sandra says:
3/29/2015 at 5:37:39 AM

I love your philosophy - should be at the front of all coaches minds in all sports


Joe says:
3/13/2015 at 12:08:29 AM

Thanks joe for the response and for the website, it is a wealth of knowledge for a volunteer coach like my self .because of this website (and my Bob Bigalow dvds)all the kids on the team have a bright future in the game . I am actively seeking another coach that can take on some of my players and i can hopefully assist. It's just good for me to get some advise form someone who has seen alot of these scenarios play out
thanks again
Joe Clayton
p.s. my son and i are looking forward to attending the skills camp in April.


Chuck says:
3/12/2015 at 8:12:18 PM

Some great suggestions in these comments and as a director of a Youth league some ideas to pass on to our coaching volunteers. I understand the dilemma for Joe. We ask each player to write a little blog about why they are playing and what they would do if they didn't play basketball. It is written during a practice and they are not required to sign it. It has been interesting to find the children who are there because parents want it. We then have a sports psychologist from a local university (volunteer) who comes in and makes a presentation to the players and then the parents. She also shows up at various practices and has become a real part of our program. She often makes the connect for the players and parents with what the child really wants. Also has boosted many who lack the confidence. Don't know what we will do if we lose her. I agree that at the level you refer to "cutting" a player isn't an option but most will take easily to a positive redirection such as playing more successfully in a less competitive environment. By the way at that level the parents voted years ago not to keep score or scoring records but will record assists on the bench so even the most inept player gets a chance for that


Scott says:
3/12/2015 at 3:00:45 PM

I coach 8 y.o. Boys. I have 9 on my team. I have 5 kids with ability and interest in training and improving. I have 2 kids interested but no concentration & very little ability and 2 kids with no interest, no concentration & very little ability. The last 2 seem to play because their parents make them. What do I do about the last 2?? They make training difficult, 1 feins injury on court and the other is in tears as he can't score a basket and gets very little of the ball. I try to encourage his defensive play and be ultra encouraging to them all. I also believe in equal game time. At 8 y,o however, I find it immoral to cut anyone?? I coach in Australia where basketball is a developing sport and good reference is hard to come by. I would appreciate your Ideas about the last 2 please??

  1 reply  

Steffan Matins says:
3/12/2015 at 3:47:59 PM

Hi Scott,

I would try and find one achievable goal and get them to concentrate on that. eg 3 rebounds for the game. It is often amazing how, with a tiny bit of confidence, kids will concentrate better, start to improve and then become more engaged.

By the way, in case anybody had the impression basketball was small in Australia, I coach in the EDJBA in Melbourne, which is a junior competition boasting almost 10,000 participants.



Stu says:
3/12/2015 at 2:20:47 PM

Joe, unless there is a roster limit, I would keep all 11 players. You have a first string, a second string, and a "6th man" who maybe doesn't get as much playing time as the first string, but more than the second string. This player could also be a defensive specialist ( I've coached several of these players; they may not have the ball handling or shooting skills of a starter, but they have the athleticism and aggressiveness to shutdown an opposing team's scorer.) The additional benefit of having this many players is when a starter is unavailable for a game, you have plenty of backup players to step in to keep your reamining starters fresh. I wish you the best of luck in moving up. I made the same move several years ago and have never regretted it.


Joe Haefner says:
3/12/2015 at 2:15:09 PM

Folks, let's try to keep the comments positive here. This is not a place for attacking and ridiculing others.

This is a family of coaches and parents trying to help each other be a positive influence on youth athletics.


Edward says:
3/12/2015 at 1:44:52 PM

I think those that are saying Joe clayton is what is wrong with sports are not getting his point. I have a basketball team of 4th graders with varying skill levels - we have some really good players and some who are still learning the game. We didn't know it at the time when we registered the team, but the league is quite competitive.
Everyone gets equal playing time. But for those who are not that good, the experience is clearly not a positive one. We have kids upset because they haven't scored a basket all season, and we've got other kids who can barely dribble who go out of their way to avoid getting the ball, even though we try to get everyone to bring the ball up. Just because the kids are out there running around and are part of a team doesn't mean they are getting any value out of it.

Knowing what I know now, I would definitely have had two teams playing in two different leagues. I probably wouldn't be able to run two teams, but would have had another parent run one of the teams.


joe clayton says:
3/12/2015 at 12:46:05 PM

Yes paul I have definitely considerd two teams in just not sure I could run 4 practices a week pluse my wife would probably kill me ...ha ha


joe clayton says:
3/12/2015 at 12:24:13 PM

Out of respect for this website I wouldn't respond to that last comment . Just know that my only concern is the kids having a positive basketball experience.

  1 reply  

Todd says:
3/12/2015 at 12:39:19 PM

I will just share that my daughter was on a soccer team that "moved up" because they were wiping kids off the map as well. She was not included in the move up even though she was probably in the top 1/3rd of players in the league - just not on that team. She has never touched a soccer ball since. Completely walked away from the sport because of what happened. This is very difficult stuff that impacts kids for a lifetime.


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