As Executive Director of Colorado Premier Basketball Club, I am always striving to keep our programs affordable and costs down. I also keep an eye on our competition and always like to know what their prices are relative to ours. Recently, during one of our price comparisons, I came across one of our competitors who was charging $100 an hour for private basketball lessons. I was shocked for about... five seconds. Then I reminded myself that the world of youth sports is insane in so many ways. There are so many societal issues that are raised by the $100 an hour private lesson, but for now I will deal with the following question: Can we buy athletic success for our children?
Enter the case of Robbi Ryan. Robbi is one of the top 50 juniors in the country and a member of our Colorado Premier U17 National Team. I have lost track of the number of Top 25 schools that are recruiting her. She has a great attitude, is a good friend and teammate, works her a** off and is passionate about the game of basketball. Here's the catch; She lives in a small town in Wyoming, seven hours from where we practice. There are no $100 an hour private lessons in her hometown. There is only heart, desire, and a willingness from Robbi to work on her game mixed with a lot of natural talent. Robbi would be a great basketball player with or without Colorado Premier Basketball Club. All we did was provide a platform for her to display her talent to colleges.
We were at a lunch with several of our coaches and players a few weeks back and I asked Robbi what she has been up to this fall. She told me she is playing volleyball for her high school, but she gets up early in the morning before school and gets 100's of shots up because she wants to be a knockdown three point shooter. Nobody is charging $100 to rebound for her and I know her mom wouldn't pay it anyway! My mom wouldn't pay that either, but as a kid I did figure out how to sneak into local gyms late at night so that I could get some extra jump shots up. I'm just saying that passion finds a way. *A belated thank you and apology to Cal Poly Pomona, Diamond Bar High School, Walnut High School and Lorbeer Jr. High for allowing me to use their gyms without permission.
Maybe there are some coaches and trainers out there that are so good that $100 an hour for a private basketball lesson is worth it, but before we go and spend that kind of money on private trainers maybe we should ask ourselves, "Have our children demonstrated a passion for their sport so strong that they have exhausted their ability to improve on their own or with our help? Do they go out in the backyard or at the local park and shoot 500 jump shots or kick 500 goals in before dinner? Do they spend an hour every night juggling a soccer ball in the garage? Do they ask you to go to the local YMCA or recreation center to play pick up games with other kids or adults?" Nowadays, any kid interested in basketball with an internet connection can learn how to do just about any move they want by watching a YouTube video or by downloading the Top Flight Basketball App (shameless plug) and finding a court to work on their game. Do you want to know how Kevin Durant works out? Yup, it's on YouTube. Good coaches can certainly help, but it really is what players do on their own, away from an organized practice that determine how good they can be. How our children spend their free time can be used to determine a players true passion for their game.
Kids that have a passion and desire for their sport will find a way to be great and us parents can support and encourage that passion in an affordable way. We can rebound for them on a hoop over the garage. We can take them to the local YMCA and allow them to play with the "old" folks who play every night and can teach them an Andre Miller trick or two. I'll never forget those nights at the park when my dad would shine his car lights at the basket for me so I could still practice after dark. To this day, those are still some of my favorite memories as a child.
We can't simply buy athletic success for our children. By forgoing, or at least reconsidering private lessons, you may just find that it isn't only their game that gets better, but their relationship with you gets better as well.