Winning or having a chance to win


A large % of parents, players, administrators and even coaches will likely click on this block-COMPETITION-first.  Maybe it’s just human nature, a kind of natural inquisitiveness that might lead to this choice.  The reality (a STARK reality) is a LARGE % of kids (Basics estimates over 90 %!) have no chance for competitive success because their skill level, their conditioning and their mental state is poor or often just average.


The pyramid is built in such a way as o encourage (and REQUIRE) players who hope to win OR HAVE A CHANCE TO WIN to do the necessary work outlined in the blocks below competition.  For example, the first block that should be known and embraced is MOTIVATION.  The 2 cornerstones at the base of the pyramid are Motivation and Vision.   A player literally has no chance to compete and succeed if he/she is NOT intrinsically motivated AND/OR that player is unable see the court, understand what is happening (known as Recognition skills) and to react accordingly.  Roughly 1 or 2 in 100 players (YUP, that’s correct!) are in this category.    Over the years Basics has been training players, we have gotten a little more militant about this!  WHY ARE KIDS TRAVELING and PLAYING GAMES and COMPETING IN LEAGUES when they have little or no chance for success? We believe the answer can be found in the fact that many of you have clicked on this block FIRST!!  Again, it may be human nature (like reading the last chapter of a book first) but for serious minded players, parents,  coaches and administrators who want to WIN or HAVE A CHANCE to win, the Pyramid of Skill is a clear path to success.  The blocks that reside below COMPETITION are required to succeed.   



Beginning players

  • Well this entry is simple.  Please understand Basics goal is to assist each and every player with their competitive growth.  We’ve been watching youth basketball closely now since 2006.  Very closely.  Competition for beginning level players makes ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE to us at all.  Basketball is arguably the most SKILL LADEN game of all.  Kids without sharp or even modest skills who are then forced to compete will not only fail but the likelihood is they will lose interest in the game.


There is a critical point here:  a kid who can’t tie his shoes in 3rd, 4th or 5th grade could be ALL STATE and college bound a few short years later with proper training, patience and support from his inner circle of family, friends and mentors.  Please read that sentence again.  We are not arguing this will happen.  What we are saying is it absolutely will NOT happen without guidance, good training choices and frankly love as the player matures.  In today’s hyper-competitive environment, these youngsters are simply thrown into the fire and asked to survive the flames with no equipment.  In these cases, the game simply becomes a measurement of athleticism-who can run the fastest, jump the highest or move the most quickly.  Don’t get us wrong–these are HIGHLY SOUGHT AFTER attributes in every player.  But they are NOT required to become a great player.    PARENTS–say NO TO COMPETITION until the kids have a set of sharp, repeatable skills.  We have many brief video logs on this topic, titled CANDID SHOTS.  .  See “The folly of Travel Teams” Video log here:  5:11


We understand this is against the grain, counter really to the way youth basketball is managed.  So we’ll quote that cultural icon Yogi Berra!!  “It a’int bragging’ if it’s true.”  We would simply direct you to the now over 100 Basics program graduates who have played or are playing now at the college level.  Our model is not only effective, it is sane.

CAVEAT:  if you have a son or daughter who is a gifted athlete, who easily wins or dominates kids their own age when they scrimmage or play basketball, find an organization that will allow these younger players to play UP with OLDER players.  Basics highly encourages this practice.  See “Playing with Friends” video log here. 3:27


Examples of playing UP:  Kid in the Navy shirt (Spencer Kranntiz) and NC State shirt (Jason Ribecky) in 7th grade playing with 10th and 11th graders. Spencer went on to become the all time leading scorer in West Michigan high school basketball history (over 2000 points) and played at CMU.  Jason led his Muskegon Catholic team to the state semi-finals and was named tournament MVP at the Breslin Arena a few short years later.

Intermediate players

  • Pretty much what is stated for Beginning players can be applied to intermediate players also.  Let’s look at what intermediate means first. This may be the biggest hurdle for parents.  When is their kid ready to compete?


Synonyms for Intermediate: average, middle, midway, moderate, standard, mediocre, so-so.


There’s no way around the subjectivity of these descriptions.  What one player or parent may see as intermediate, another may view as a beginner or goodness gracious sakes alive, even as advanced!  Basics has worked very hard at developing OBJECTIVE MEASUREMENTS, factual data, empirical evidence if you will.   What’s the number?


Mikan Drill:  What is your kid’s number?  Average, above average, excellent and what is the record?  These measurements are listed by grade, gender and number, known as Mikan Drill progressions.


These calculations are available for 5th to 6th, 6th to 7th 7th to 8th, 8th to 9th and 9th to 12th.  

the Mikan Drill video log–2:24

TIP: 95% + of the kids are in the AVERAGE CATEGORY.  Note that the make does not count if the player does NOT use his/her weak hand.   ANOTHER TIP:  why compete if your kid is average?  The outcomes are a foregone conclusion.

Advanced players

  • There are 3 components to competitiveness:
  1. A player’s condition and fitness:  See our Conditioning Block on the pyramid
  2. A player’s understanding (or lack thereof) of his/her position on the team.  His/her role (and acceptance of that role) is defined by the coach
  3. A player’s skill.  His/her ability to execute sharp, competitive skills UNDER PRESSURE.  Basics refers to these as COMPETITIVE HABITS.


Serial Skills are a group of discrete skills strung together to make a new and complex movement. i.e. the sequence of skills required to shoot a basketball under pressure. (Foot skills, proper ball position, extension, rotation, jumping ability)


Many players that we work with have good to very good skills, and we assist them in sharpening these skills.  But players who want to win regularly (or even have a CHANCE to win-this is the top of the Pyramid of Skill) must master to the best of their ability the 3 components listed above.


There are no tricks.  There are no shortcuts,  And the headwinds are really strong in youth and High School basketball.  Obstacles to competitive growth are everywhere.  (Travel, emphasis on winning versus skill development, overly involved parents, poorly prepared programs, confusing ACTIVITY with ACHIEVEMENT–they are NOT related)  At Basics, we remove many of these obstacles.  We challenge the players to UNDERSTAND the skills and then we give them a large number of repetitions of these DISCRETE SKILLS as they hopefully begin to master their new SERIAL SKILLS.


Basketball is the MOST HIGHLY SKILLED GAME of all.  No sport combines, running skills, jumping skills, lateral and back ward movements, use of both hands, use of both feet, extraordinary conditioning, mental toughness, extremely EMOTIONAL sport, only 5 can play at 1 time, TINY SURFACE, more possessions than any sport by a factor of 2 to 3, etc.  TOUGH TOUGH SPORT!!  We are continually amazed how many kids are just thrown into competition with poor or average skills. My dad would say that’s “back asswards”!   And it is.


Basics does NOT SUBSCRIBE to the current model of travel, competition and CONSTANT play as youngsters develop in any sport.  We know that emphasizing skills and school and appropriate adult modeling for these kids MUST COME FIRST.  If you are interested in learning the Basics methodology for your program, your school district or your child, you are encouraged to explore the web site, the Pyramid of Skill, or to CALL or EMAIL with any questions.  616 402-1600   Thank you



CANDID SHOTS–Related Videos: