How can younger athletes get more power?

Q: I am hoping you can answer my questions so I can help my little boy (9 years old). He plays in a school based AAU program and this is his second year playing. He has trouble getting the ball far enough, or he doesn't get it to the backboard/ rim. We have noticed that all the other players on his team can get the ball there even if they don't make a basket. What can I do to help him? Is it a strength issue or a dynamics issue? He has fun playing but is getting discouraged and I am afraid he will end up not having fun if we can't fix this. Thank you for your time and any help will be much appreciated!

A: First, I assume your son is roughly as big as the other boys. If not, then it's partly a strength issue. But, assuming he is of similar size and strength, then it may be that he's not using as much leg power as the other boys. Either not generating as much as the other boys, and/or not utilizing as high a "percentage" of the available energy as they are.

In my coaching I talk about "catching" the UpForce (leg drive) and shooting FROM it. By catch, I mean shooting earlier, on the way up, to get a high percentage. When you do, there's a lot of power. If you hesitate, you lose that power source, either all or some. A high percentage gives you, also, a high arch to your shots without even trying for arch.

Ask your son to notice (1) how strongly he's jumping [rate it from 1 to 10, for example, so he has to be aware and report to you], and (2) what percent he's catching. The goal is 100%, all of it! He may be hesitating and getting only 50% or 25%. When he jumps strongly and catches a high percent, he should easily have enough power to get the bottom of the ball as high as 11 or 12 feet or more to come down softly into the basket.