Breakthrough Basketball Newsletter:
Don't Play More Than 5 Months of the Year

March 10th, 2022

Here’s what we have for you this week...

  • Don’t Play Basketball More Than 5 Months of the Year??? - The reasons that players should NOT specialize in basketball before this age…and what they should do instead.

  • A Forgotten Key to Post-Season Player Meetings - Remember to do this during your post-season meetings to improve motivation, self-esteem, and culture.

  • Some March Madness is About to Begin! - Get ready for some of our best deals of the year!

  • Can You Believe It’s Camp Season Already?! - We just love this time of year!

Scroll down for more details!


Don’t Play More Than 5 Months of Basketball A Year??

There’s a lot of misinformation about whether kids should specialize in one sport year-round…or play a variety of sports...and if/when specialization should begin.

We believe that youth should play a variety of sports and not specialize in basketball until age 14 or older. In fact, we encourage athletes to play multiple sports through high school if possible.

USA Basketball shares our philosophy on this. They partnered with the NBA in 2016 and developed these guidelines based on how much time of the year should be devoted to playing basketball - based on what’s best for the health and wellness of players...

Maximum Months Per Year in Organized Basketball:

  • Ages 7-8:      4 months
  • Ages 9-11:     5 months
  • Ages 12-14:   7 months
  • Grades 9-12:  9-10 months

There are a host of benefits from being a multi-sport athlete, like becoming a better overall athlete, having better mental health and less burnout, having less injuries, finding a hidden talent for a sport, becoming a life-long athlete...the list goes on and on.

In fact, delaying single-sport specialization helps you become a better athlete, like these NBA stars - Lebron James played football. Kobe Bryant played soccer. Steve Nash played soccer. Michael Jordan played football and baseball. Sue Bird played soccer and tennis and ran track.

Or Tim Duncan, who started playing basketball at 14 years old and was actually a professional swimmer before finding his path to basketball success!

Not to mention, in almost every sport, post-puberty is when the majority of skill development occurs. So make sure you don’t burn them out before it’s time to start rapid improvement. (70% of kids quit sports before age 13.) You’ll be amazed at how many of those athletes who dominate from 8 to 13 years old get passed by in high school.

I haven’t even put my 7 and 8 year old boys in any basketball activities yet. I’ve done four 10-minute ball handling workouts with my 8 year old so far. Basketball is a very late developing sport, so I focused on them developing as athletes first. We do have a hoop that we play on once or twice a week depending on the time of the year.

Over a decade ago, I learned in a certification course to become a Youth Fitness Specialist that getting them in a variety of activities is the best thing for their long-term development. This year, I put my boys in soccer, gymnastics (tumbling), jiu-jitsu & striking, and swimming. We do this recreationally and seasonally. And we mix in some baseball, kickball, and football in the backyard. We also had a trampoline for a few years that they wore out.

Also, when they’re growing up… as soon as they can run around age 2 or 3, play “Chase” or Tag with them every day... just for a few minutes. We broke all of Momma’s house rules by doing this. :) Even today, they still like to do races outside.

While my kids aren’t as skilled as some of the kids on the soccer field, they can run with any of them even though they are younger than almost all of the kids in their leagues. I think playing Tag almost every day with them was a big reason why.

You never know what an athlete is going to be good’s best not to pigeon-hole them into one sport and instead let them blossom from all the benefits of being a multi-sport athlete.


A Forgotten Key to Post-Season Player Meetings That Improves Motivation, Self-Esteem, & Culture

Now that the season is over or almost over, you’ll of course have your “normal” checklist of things to do, like collect uniforms, etc.

But one really important piece of wrapping up the season is Communication. It’s really a good reflection practice to meet with your individual players soon after the season ends. This helps everyone reflect, set goals, and improve.

And much of these meetings come down to letting players know you appreciate them no matter if you’ve had a winning season or a mediocre season.

Here are some tips on what to discuss with your players...

1) Help all players reflect on the season.

Ask players these questions and analyze the answers together:

  • What was good about the season?
  • What wasn’t so good about the season?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?

You can take notes to help you with a goal-setting plan (explained later).

2) Express your appreciation!

Take this opportunity to let those players who didn’t get much playing time know you appreciate them. It’s not easy to be that 10th or 12th person on the bench.

Even though you know that you appreciate every single player on the team, young people sometimes interpret lack of playing time with not being “liked” by the coach. By letting them know that you value them, you will make them feel better - increase their self-worth and thus self-esteem...and they’ll know you “like” them.

These are the players behind the scenes, the ones who don’t get the notoriety or the spotlight for scoring and record-setting. But these are the kids who need recognition, too.

Let them know you value them no matter if they were 9th or 12th person off the bench. Emphasize that everyone is equal on the team and just as important to the success of the team.

Connect with them by telling them specifically what you liked about them - their energy or whatever the case may be. You can say things like...

  • I really appreciate how you kept a smile on your face even though you didn’t get in the game. That had to have been hard, but you put the needs of the team first. That says you are not a selfish person.

  • I value how hard you work during practice. If we didn’t have players like you, the whole team would suffer because we’d never be able to prepare and learn properly. Thank you for always showing up and giving 100%.

  • I appreciate the high fives and cheering you did from the bench. That’s really important to our team spirit. I’m glad you were there to rally the positivity!

  • I noticed during time outs and during practices that you always listened and made eye contact with me. I sure appreciate that. Then I know people are listening and you are being a great role model.

This in turn makes them want to come back and do it all over again…because you noticed their dedication to the team. And you need these role players, or you simply can’t practice adequately.

This is a great time to make those kids feel good.

3) Help players develop goals and a plan.

The next piece is to create a plan. Based on their answers above, find out what their plan is.

What do they want to get better at? How will they improve?

Then help them hash out a plan of how they can reach some of their goals, how they can build their strengths and improve their weaknesses.

It might be workouts that you already have or finding the workouts, or teams they want to play on, or it might be summer camps and leagues - whatever the case may be.

You want them to leave there with a plan, so they're not kind of up in the air and left thinking, “Well, I'll wait til October we'll see what happens...I'll just come to some of the open gyms.”

When you’re done, they should have a concrete plan with how they're going to improve. You could even make some sort of paper copy for them and continue to check in with them as the off-season progresses.

These post-season meetings will help bring the season to a close, yet keep their sights on next season!


March Madness - Player Satisfaction On the Way

One of our missions is to give you products and resources so you can have a satisfying season next year…one that meets your every goal.

Be on the lookout for our 24-hour specials featuring products to bring you some Player Satisfaction...

The Madness begins Sunday. There are going to be some CRAZY deals!

  • Scoring
  • Athletic Development
  • Take it to the Rim
  • Individualized Workouts
  • Speed
  • Footwork
  • Aggressiveness
  • Confidence
  • Tenacious D
  • Injury-Free
  • Offensive Strategy
  • Nimble Yet Strong


Basketball Camps Starting Soon!

Basketball camp season is here!

You can view all 300+ summer camps across North America here where you can view by state/province and region as well.

Here are some camps that are starting soon...

Kansas City, Missouri - March 13-May 1 (Weekly) - Sold Out!

Kalona, Iowa - March 18-20

Quincy, Illinois - March 18-20 - 9 Spots Left

El Paso, Texas - March 19-20 - 10 Spots Left

San Angelo, Texas - March 19-20

Orland Park, Illinois - March 20-May 1 (Weekly) - Sold Out!

Dallas, Texas - March 20-April 24 (Weekly) - Limited Spots

Minneapolis, Minnesota - March 20-May 1 (Weekly) - Sold Out!

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma - March 20-May 1 (Weekly) - Limited Spots

Olathe, Kansas - March 20-May 1 (Weekly) - Limited Spots

Omaha, Nebraska - March 20-May 1 (Weekly) - Limited Spots


Warm Regards,

- Joe Haefner
Breakthrough Basketball