Toddler Mini Hoops: just the name elicits feelings of joy and happiness… should be a morning full of smiles and laughs while daddy and son sit criss- cross -applesauce and roll the ball back and forth to each other. Maybe a few practice passes and the opportunity to shoot a granny shot or two.
I know my career path has allowed me to study and research developmental milestones of child development and age appropriate activities for children, however I’d like to think that for the most part it’s pretty much common sense when it comes to most things you would ask a toddler to do.
I’m not even talking about age appropriate skills related to a particular sport. I’m talking about simple aspects of everyday life. Like the amount of time you might ask a three year old to attend to a task and more specifically related to today’s incident… how long you ask a child to sit and listen to an aging middle school JV basketball coach while sitting down silently. Listen folks, I’m an elementary school principal, I’m 37 years old and I can’t do any of the above for more than four minutes and that’s even pushing it. As a former Division 1 track and field hurdler I get the difficulty that comes with being an athlete and the work and effort that comes with improving your craft, but this was ridiculous.
There is no way my “active” (that’s an understatement) can sit quietly while listening to Phil Jackson’s understudy explain the rationale behind using a chest-pass instead of a bounce-pass. Not yet, at least. We’re not there yet. We are at, “here’s how you hold a basketball and let’s try to bounce it back and forth without doing summersaults, licking the gym mats,” or maybe even how about we just complete a two hand dribble and catch with out stopping to lick the floor. How’s that sound?!??!
At one point The future UCONN basketball coach asked the children to stand up, and begin dribbling the ball with their finger “pads” without looking at the ball. He then told them to look directly at their parent while they dribble. Tough task no? Even for experienced players it’s tough…. but hang on we aren’t done. The parent is then supposed to flash their fingers depicting a different number every two seconds while the child then calls out the number of fingers being held up in order to keep their head up while they continuously dribble the ball. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need to challenge our children, to push them to work harder and to give them the skills they need to succeed to improve. I know as an athlete he needs to be given the opportunity to practice and that he can’t a trophy just for showing up for practice. But, how about we build some foundational skills first.
With jaws on the floor we all listened to Coach Auriemma describe the flight path and correct backspin on a bounce pass needed to hit your teammate in stride on a backdoor cut to the basket. All this occurring while my child was running laps around the out side of the gym. Jackson did successfully however steal the ball from the coach without fouling him while he was explaining the children’s homework for the week. I was impressed with the defensive ability of the kid as he swiped the ball from the coaches side, dribbled it with his feet and kicked it into a stray soccer goal off to the side of the hoops. (Followed by the Fragola shirt pull over the head while running around yelling “GOOOAAAAALLLLLL!!!!” (Wrong sport bud).
We did get in a little practice of basic, age appropriate basketball skills while Coach Popovich ran a group of screaming toddlers through the weave drill. I guess next week we can look forward to learning the pick and roll (and by pick and roll I mean Jackson will pick his nose and roll around on the floor).
”Basketball on three… ONE, TWO, THREE”