Basketball is just a game. It ends for everyone eventually. You win some and you lose some. I feel the general trend in teaching the new generation of athlete’s is that it is okay to lose, everyone gets a participation trophy and it’s okay that team just beat you by 20 points, “They have been playing together for years”.
I agree there is more to life than basketball, and one should have multiple interests. But why should the score at the end of the game matter? Here is cold hard fact- It matters because eventually this game we love turns into a business and turns into potential money earned or lost. You will either be on the winning side or losing side of it. Getting a scholarship to play a sport in college is like getting paid, after all the average D-1 basketball player spends an average 39.5 hours a week on their craft not including class time. It is a full time job, and what do you receive for that work? A free college education. Mine was worth $120,000, of which I didn’t have to pay 1 cent. Obviously once you get to the next level you either sign a contract or you are cut but that is a minuscule portion of AAU players who actually make it that far.
If you saw my previous post only 1% of kids in the US make it Division 1 and 5.7% get some kind of financial aid at other levels. This is why the score matters. Because there is someone out there that is better than you, and more than likely a kid on the team who beat you will take your scholarship in the future. After all coaches like to recruit people who win or come from winning backgrounds.
Keeping score is one way to always compare yourself to other competition. Yes you will have games you lose and days you play terrible, but how you respond to those losses, and bad performances is what matters especially at a young age. For me, instead of saying it’s okay they are really good, I always asked, “How do I get better, how do I beat that team?”. I believe this correlates to the “The real world”. If businesses fail they either improve or they don’t make it. If your a salesman and you don’t get sales..well you know how it goes.
AAU tournaments and showcase tournaments are essential in measuring what level of basketball you are at. You should always be comparing the score of a team you beat to another team who beat them by more or held them to less points than your team. As a coach and player it lets you know, okay we have to raise our level of defense or we have to improve offensively because that team scored 80 points on the team we just beat and we only scored 50 points.
Now don’t mistake me, I am assuming 90% of kids playing elite AAU tournaments or playing on an elite team have the goal to win tournaments, or play in college, or simply make the varsity team. Otherwise yes please don’t worry about the score, just have fun and be the best you can. For me I always had something on the line, and I knew where my goals lined up.
My college coaches used to use the same method of comparison only to more detailed scoring stats. For instance our goal was to win the WCC conference, so we compared our scoring average and defensive points allowed average to the team who seemed to have the winning formula in our league…Gonzaga! one season we were 5-0 and Gonzaga was 5-0. We had compared our stats to them all year long. Of the 5 teams we already played that they had played, they averaged a few more points than us per game offensively but defensively they held teams to 12 fewer points than us. So we knew if we wanted to beat them we had to get our defense better. For your info we lost that game by 3.
Keeping score is essential to measuring your progress, your teams ability, and if basketball is something you can potentially have a future in. It is okay to fail but don’t accept failure and do nothing about it. In the real world you either rise to the level of the competition or you won’t make it for very long.
Jared Stohl is the lead trainer and coach with the D-1 Elite AAU basketball program. Jared is a former D-1 standout with University of Portland Pilots and Euro Pro. In 2010, he was Division 1 number one 3pt shooter in the nation and is currently #3 all-time in the West Coast Conference for 3pts made.