By Dr. Paul Drew
Welcome to the second issue of volume four of Swish, a weekly periodical with recaps and photos of Santa Monica YMCA youth basketball games, and other pertinent info such as announcements and updates from the program.
The heat of the summer took its toll on our Santa Monica YMCA teams with one of our games postponed due to an electrical outage in the Culver Middle school gym. Even after the power was restored, the heat was still pretty high in the gym and it made for tough conditions, but players were able to sweat and hydrate through the tough times and play their matches. Nothing was going to stop these kids from playing.
The Santa Monica YMCA is now having registration for the Fall Youth Basketball League, at the Santa Monica YMCA or online at http://welcome.ymcasm.org/programs/youth/sports-play/
Santa Monica YMCA youth basketball is a developmental league. We enjoyed hearing about alumni of our program making junior varsity or varsity squad at their local high school; however, our league is more important to the development of players and helping them to gain confidence, leading a healthy lifestyle, making friendships, and enjoying the game of basketball.
All too often we focus on winning when we really want to focus on making sure that the kids are enjoying participation in youth sports.
I’m a big advocate of the Positive Coaching Alliance, and when you have the opportunity, please check out their website at www.PositiveCoach.org
The following article is from the Positive Coaching Alliance:
KEEP THE FUN IN YOUTH SPORTS BY HELPING KIDS LOVE THE GAME MORE THAN HOW THEY PERFORM
by Peter C. Scales (PhD)
Most kids quit their sports because they’re no longer having fun. They’re not having enough good days with their sport.
Here’s how we want kids to define what a good day is: Today I played (name your sport) and won. Today I played ____ and lost. What’s the common phrase in each of those? Today I played ___! Playing is what made it a great day, whether I won or lost! Half the people playing any game or match will lose. No matter who you are, at whatever level, you will lose a lot. If you only have fun when you’re winning, or when your child is winning, you’re in for a lot of unfun days!
Boris Becker, the 7-time tennis Grand Slam champ, has a quote hung high above one of the courts at Wimbledon that summarizes this well: “I love the winning, I can take the losing. But most of all, I love to play.” Let’s ponder for a moment what that means for youth sports coaches and parents. There are three important points Becker makes in this quote. First, he loves the winning. It’s okay to love winning. It is more fun to win than to lose. Loving the game doesn’t mean you’re not trying to win, training to win, playing to win. It doesn’t mean you don’t feel disappointed when you lose.
Second, he can “take” the losing. He accepts loss as an inevitable part of playing. He doesn’t like it, but it comes with competing. He might be momentarily down about it, but it doesn’t throw him off track or turn his world upside down. He handles it pretty calmly as just a fact of life for someone who is engaged in the game, or as President Teddy Roosevelt said at the turn of the 20th century, someone who is “in the arena” doing exciting things and taking risks, not just watching others.
Finally, and “most of all,” most important in Becker’s mind, he loves to play. Being out there competing is what matters most. Playing his sport is, almost literally, his “spirit,” which in the original Greek, means the very breath that keeps him alive. It is not the winning or losing that is life and death to him—it is the game that is his breath of life. It is almost literally “spiritual” for him. He loves the game more than how he performs playing it.
Do you love your game or the game your child plays like that? Or do you only love it when you win? If you’re a coach, do you show your players how much you love the game itself, at every practice and match or game? Do you show them that it is just a ton of fun out there and that your identity is wrapped up in playing the game more than the outcome? Or do you show passion and joy and total immersion in the experience of it only when your players are winning? If you’re a parent, are you happy that your child is participating and having fun, no matter whether they win or lose? Or are you only pleased and proud of them when they win, or even only when they win and are playing at an outstanding level? What a burden to put on someone, especially young people who are playing sports to have fun, make friends, and learn about themselves, far more than they are playing to win!
Both players and coaches have to keep reminding themselves of why they love the game, and for older players and coaches, remember how they once loved the game more than how they did at it. Part of what we do as coaches and parents is to allow our players to see how great the game is, whether it’s tennis, basketball, soccer, swimming, so they get hooked on it in their own time. The more hooked into the game they get, because they like playing it, the easier it will be for them to learn, and get better. So your own enthusiasm, humility (the game is bigger than any player, coach, or parent), and respect for the challenge of competition (honoring the game and your opponents, win or lose) are really important parts of mentoring them. Mia Hamm, who starred for years for the World Cup Champion U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, has put it nicely: “Somewhere between the athlete you’ve become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back…play for her.” Play, coach, and parent for the love of the game, not for how well you, your players, or your own children are doing.
I’m a high school tennis coach (and psychologist, which helps!). Even now, at age 69, I’m grinning a lot out there when I coach. I’m energized by it, not tired of it. Yes, I shake my head sometimes at what I’m seeing in my JV tennis players, but I love doing it, love just being out there with them, love to see them learning and having fun, getting hooked on the game, and I show it, every day. My players see how much fun I’m having being with them, and I think it helps them be more interested in the game of tennis. And as both a player and a coach, I have two mindfulness and gratitude tricks I use when things aren’t going well, that get me and my players right back where we need to be, focusing on the only things we can control, which are trying hard, wanting to learn, honoring the game, and having fun.
One trick to getting back to fun is, I just stop and smell and feel a tennis ball.
Just smelling the ball and feeling its fuzz remind me of everything I love about the game. It’s an instant dose of fast-acting sports psychotherapy. Focusing on those sensations instead of on ourselves and our worries and wants, the clutter in our heads, gets us back to what really matters, gets us back in a finger-snap to being grateful to be out there, just loving to play, or in my case, loving to coach.
There’s something else I do sometimes if my kids are playing in a match that isn’t going their way, instead of talking with them about strategy when I call them over to the fence, I’ll just remind them to look up at the sky.
Then I ask them to look around to see their teammates, friends, and family cheering them on. Take it all in. And then I say, “It’s a beautiful day to be out on the tennis court, isn’t it? How lucky are we?!”
Sometimes they shake their heads as if to say, wow Coach Pete, is that the best you can do, we’re getting killed here—give us some ideas for goodness sake!
But giving them strategy ideas during the match sometimes can be too much. Sometimes, what they most immediately need is simply to see that I believe in them and know that their worth as a human being has nothing to do with the outcome of this match. I’m relaxed and still enjoying the match no matter the score, I’m confident they’ll compete as best they can. And they feed off of that. Just like coaches, parents’ words and nonverbal behavior during practices and matches, and on the ride home, can either communicate that same belief, calmness, and enjoyment in their child’s play, no matter what, or communicate doubt, anxiety, disappointment, and conditional rather than unconditional love. Which would you rather see from your coaches and your parents if you were a player? Which would keep you in the game?
Almost always, when I tell them to look up to the sky and look around and realize how lucky they are to be playing, this gets their minds off of how they’re doing, off of the pressure of judging themselves or letting others judge them by the outcome. It moves them more back to just feeling first okay, and then, hopefully, glad to be out on the court.
So they typically smile or laugh at how totally not helpful I was, and release some of the tension and bad feelings, get looser, and start having fun again. Sometimes they go on to win, sometimes they end up losing. But it helps get them back to the one thing that doesn’t have to change, as long as they choose it, which is that the game is fun.
They have to make that choice to go back to having fun. Attitude is a decision that I can’t make for them. But as their coach I can project an image of relaxation, acceptance, confidence, and gratefulness that can help them decide to be positive and having fun again. Parents can project exactly the same things too. But just as your kids have to choose this, parents have to make a decision to be relaxed, accepting, confident, and grateful, and show it.
So the next time it isn’t going well for your players or your own kids playing, be mindful and grateful. Stop and smell the ball if you can, or at least visualize doing that. Take a deep breath. Look up at the sky or all around the arena if you’re indoors. Take it all in. It’s a beautiful day or evening for your kids to be out on the court or the field, isn’t it?! How lucky are they?! How lucky are you that they get to play?!
In those few seconds of gratefully taking it all in, whether you’re a coach or a parent, you’ll remind yourself about what’s really important in sports, and put yourself in a much better position to help your kids love the game more than how they perform. That means more fun, for everyone.
Peter C. Scales, Ph.D., is internationally-known as one of the world’s foremost authorities on positive youth development (www.drpeterscales.com), having conducted studies on youth well-being in more than 30 countries. Coach Pete is also a U.S. Professional Tennis Association-certified tennis teaching pro who serves as the head JV tennis coach for boys and girls at Parkway South High School in Manchester, Missouri, and is a PCA-certified Double Goal Coach®. In this article, Coach Pete explains why helping players love the game more than how they perform is an essential and often over-looked part of competing well, learning continuously, and behaving honorably. Coach Pete’s coaching philosophy is based on the team motto he created: Compete—Learn—Honor, with honor the foundation for all learning and competitive development: Give 100% at all times, be an open, curious, humble learner, and behave in a way that brings credit to you, your teammates, your school, your family, and the game. Do that, and you are winners, no matter what your win-loss record is. This article was adapted from Coach Pete’s new book, Mental and Emotional Training for Tennis: Compete-Learn-Honor (2019), published by Coaches Choice and available at amazon.com and coacheschoice.com.
7/27 Game summary for team #6 of 7U – For the 2nd game of the Summer season, the 7U Santa Monica Stars (team #6) came ready for a game. Due to a temporary power outage at the gym, the game was temporarily canceled, but soon after power was restored, so the two teams sweated it out (with no AC) for a preset shortened 28 minute game due to heat. Culver City (team #4) had size and some girl power, but it was all Santa Monica who came out to an early 10-0 lead by half. By end of game Culver had sunk one free throw but Santa Monica continued to dominate by simply out rebounding, getting more possessions, and converting to baskets for an 18-1 win.
Luke Steelman was the Player of the Game with an incredible 9 steels, 2 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 6 points to lead the Stars. Logan Cappiccille Added 4 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals. Laila Elliot had a monstrous 11 rebounds along with an assist and 2 points. Teddy Franklin dropped 4 points along with picking up a rebound and block (not bad for the 5 year old and youngest player on the team). Tristan Hayes pulled down 8 rebounds, 2 steals, and added a bucket for 2 points. Benjamin Saunders grabbed 3 boards, and 2 steals. Colson Moore snagged a steel, and a rebound. Elliot Israels grabbed one rebound to round out a true team effort by the 7U Stars. Thanks to Jason Moore for keeping game stats. Submitted by Coach Holden Hayes
8-9 year olds
On a hot, sweaty Saturday afternoon, the Santa Monica Stars played a nail-biter in their 2nd game of the Summer. With the heat affecting all the kids, both teams were held scoreless for the early minutes of the contest. Dylan Kravitz got the Stars on the scoreboard with the first basket of the game and from there, the team took off. Playing his usual tough defense, Ben Steelman had a fantastic game as well on offense pushing the ball upcourt, scoring layups and swishing free throws. Joseph Zak also played extremely well, using his size and dribbling ability to score points inside. Gavin O’ Brien and Ryan Etemadnia chipped in baskets and played great defense. Bella Kariger, Dominic Drew, Miles Franklin, and Ryan Chambers(made a 3-pointer!) all played well with tough defense, solid passing and excellent dribbling. In the end the Stars held off a late run to get their first W 18-14. Submitted by Coach Bill Kravitz
Santa Monica had their hands full in this one against a taller, bigger Culver City squad, which played their own tough man-to-man defense and surprised Santa Monica at the outset. Down 6-0 early, and 6-2 at the half, Santa Monica stormed back for a solid 18-12 win to run its record to 2-0 on the season. Theo Haberli and Asher Zaczepinski paced Santa Monica with six points apiece. Challenged to rebound better in the second half, Kellen McDonough and Sean Saunders rose to the occasion, each with eight rebounds to lead the effort on the glass. Saunders also had two blocked shots to pace Santa Monica in that category.
Once again, the game turned on the defensive end. Culver City struggled against Santa Monica’s aggressive defense, led as usual by Veronica Machala, this time joined by Josie Casas and the always hard-nosed Ryan Schuster. All three played tough, physical defense, and if not getting steals and making deflections, certainly caused plenty of problems. Erol Besincioglu had his first basket of the season, a sweet kiss of the glass from about five feet out, Aidan Lin was his usual steadying influence at point guard, and Jaxton Moore, Miles Boelke and Brandon Israels defended well, moved the ball, and took good shots within the flow of the offense. Defense and passing continue to be the keys to improvement, and when they do both well this team will be difficult to stop. Santa Monica forced plenty of turnovers, and then was able to get their own good looks on offense when the ball moved around and everyone was engaged in the offense. That is certainly what changed the game in the second half. These will continue to be points of emphasis through the season, and so far so good. Submitted by Coach Eric McDonough
10-11 year olds
SAMO came with 10 players all ready to play. Nathan, Dean, Jack, Adi, Jace, Lincoln, Gordon, Jonathan S., Roberto and Mathew all played terrific Defense. Everyone knew their role and they executed it with communication amongst one another. Offensively, everyone had some good touches and the ball movement was great. Another teamwork filled game getting “The Goats” The victory over Culver City – 47-35. Submitted by Coach Brian Phelan
12-14 year olds
YMCA Team#2 Lakers, won again 40-26. The team was lead on the offensive end by Shiva Mcintosh who scored a team high 15 points. Shiva’s offensive breakout game came from the fast break created by the full court defensive pressure that the Lakers applied. Eli Levy created many of these driving layups with interceptions of passes and quickly converting assist to Shiva and others. Estevan Rodriguez and Tommy Sorady were great on the boards and down low flexing their strength and dominating the paint. Roma Karimi was a real thorn in the side of the opposing team with his relentless defensive pressure and rebounding, Roma tallied 4 steals and 10 rebounds. Noah Kratz and Taylor Chen each contributed with their focused play on both ends of the court. All in all a fun and victorious Saturday for the boys. Submitted by Coach Mark Ulrich
Team #1 15U lost by about 30 points (score not available) to a physically superior Westchester squad. Seven SM YMCA players showed up and tried their best. Leading scorers were Drake Olivier and Nasir Luna. Submitted by Coach Jim Fleigner
This Week’s Profile
Each week, Swish has a profile of a coach, player, or someone in the program who inspires all of us involved in Santa Monica YMCA basketball.
This week’s profile is of one of our favorite players at the Santa Monica YMCA, Bella Kariger. She has been playing year round for the past couple of years in the youth basketball league at the Santa Monica YMCA. Although she has recently played on the All-Girls Bantam team coached by Sean Daly, she is currently mixing it up with the boys on our U9 team that plays in the Culver Palms YMCA league. A couple of years ago, Bella was inspired by watching her classmate Dominic Drew perform basketball dribbling tricks at the annual school talent show, while he wore his YMCA uniform. After seeing Dominic dribble the ball in the show, she immediately signed up for YMCA basketball, and has become one of the most liked players by her teammates and coaches. Bella is an unselfish player that looks for the open teammates, sets screens, and takes on the top player of the other team by playing tenacious defense. Bella’s accomplishments at the Santa Monica YMCA include winning the Rookie League MVP for the Fall 2018 season, and being selected to the All Santa Monica YMCA First Team for 2018-19.
DocDrew: What do you enjoy most about playing basketball at the Santa Monica YMCA?
Bella: What I like about playing at Santa Monica YMCA basketball is everyone gets a chance to play. The playing time is very fair. It’s also a great place to make new friends.
DocDrew: What are your most memorable moments in your basketball career at the Santa Monica YMCA?
Bella: My most memorable moment playing at the Santa Monica YMCA was being named MVP at the end of one season. And making my first free throw in a game.
DocDrew: Who is your favorite player and why?
Bella: My favorite professional basketball player is Klay Thompson. He is a great shooter and is also a very good defender. He never gives up. Even when he was hurt.
DocDrew: What do you enjoy most about having your children play basketball at the Santa Monica YMCA?
Parents Teresa and Kurby: We both enjoy the joy of competition. One can see all of life’s emotions during a basketball game. We can all see their faces of elation and celebration in victory and the disappointment in defeat. The children learn to keep trying even when they fail which is a very important life lesson. We like that the referees teach when they call traveling, double dribbles or a foul. The coaches do an amazing job rotating and giving fair playing time. And the best part is this league is very well organized and managed. All teams play to win, but learning skills and life lessons are equally valued. This league is about basketball but so much more.
Bella has taken her inspiration to play basketball and given it to her teammates and other young boys and girls to give it their best and enjoy playing the game. We can’t thank her parents enough for their support, but even more, we can’t thank Bella enough for her enthusiasm and setting the example for all of us, that basketball is meant to be fun!
Thank you very much,
Dr. Paul Drew, youth basketball coordinator at the Santa Monica YMCA, editor and publisher of Swish