Basketball Coaches: Encourage Young Players to Shoot!

Please, coaches, encourage your young players to shoot, don't shut them down! A parent/coach who just ordered my Swish videos told me of his son's coach and how he restricts his boys from shooting:

"His 5th grade coach has restrictions and only certain areas of the court that they are allowed to shoot from (inside 15 feet all around). They get benched or even threats of game suspensions if they violate the rule. Not FUN!"

As the man further wrote: "It's important for youth coaches to encourage shooting for everyone from all around the basket (up to reasonable range), encourage taking the risk of shooting, encourage failure as a learning tool, to understand that taking ill-advised shots is a learning experience as well."


Wow, a 10 year old being threatened with being benched or even suspended for shooting from the "wrong" spots. This is another example of the very damaging and destructive coaching that is happening to youth around the country. To learn a skill, you have to be allowed to fail. In fact, you can often learn more from a failed shot than you can from a made shot. You can learn about distance, height, direction, etc., and how to do achieve, and how NOT to achieve them. Failure becomes a friend, then, rather than an enemy. If you are afraid to fail, then learning is severely stunted.

I mentioned a couple Newsletters ago the boy who was told never to shoot during the Playoffs or he'd get pulled. What do you think that did for his self-image? Did it make him "tougher" to be so treated? I doubt it. Another season of such treatment will probably lead to him quitting the game.


On a recent trip to New England for clinics, I met an amazing resource on the subject of Youth Sports by the name of Bob Bigelow. Bob lives in Winchester, Mass, and has been spending a lot of time the last 15-20 years speaking and writing about the subject of Youth Sports. He gives talks and clinics, stressing the need to, as his latest books states it, "Just Let the Kids Play!" He has studied and researched the subject upside down and backwards, and is doing his best to change the way sports are taught to our younger kids.

I recommend the book to all coaches and parents. He has strong opinions, and the research to back them up, as to when select teams are best introduced, about the height of baskets for different age groups, and many other aspects of Youth Sports. The book will illuminate you as to what's happening ... and to possible solutions. Bob may be available to come to your area to speak to coaches and parents, as well as do clinics for kids. He's spoken to companies like Nike about this and is offering specific proposals to help change the direction of youth sports.


I've been mentioning the Positive Coaching Alliance out of Stanford, a group that's focused on the same subject and has a network of coaches all over the country. Bob mentions them in his book with great admiration. Bob seems to know just about everyone in basketball on the East Coast and much of the country (he played in the NBA for four years), and I hope some powerful sports organization sees to appoint him the "Czar" of Youth Sports and gives him the support and funding he needs to truly lead and inspire change. Far too many kids are having their sports futures crushed by coaches who feel winning is the most important (or only) thing.

Getting cut from an "elite" or "select" team at a young age can be a devastating experience, and Bob quotes the statistics of kids quitting teams and sports because of such abuse. At a time when sports can take them on a powerful journey of self-discovery, challenge, opportunity, self image, teamwork, the value of hard work, etc., way way too many are quitting sports. That can be very tragic for those kids' self esteem and future. God speed, Bob!

Tom Nordland is a shooting expert and coach from California via Minnesota. His videos, coaching and writings are inspiring a Renaissance (a rebirth, a revival) in shooting around the world as players and coaches are taught the things that really matter in shooting. A great shooter as a youth, Tom was given a gift of seeing shooting like few have ever seen it. He sees the “essence” of great shooting and how to get there. The good news is that it’s very simple. The few great shooters of today and yesterday mastered simple things, not complicated motions. Improved shooting is now possible for everybody in the game, and mastery is available to those who sincerely dedicate themselves to it. Visit Tom’s website ( to read of his background and his articles and newsletters, and to view the remarkable endorsements and amazing testimonials for this approach to shooting.