I can’t believe it’s almost been a week since the closing ceremonies of the 15U Boy’s and Girl’s National Championships in Regina, Saskatchewan. Since I’ve been back I have had some time to reflect on the week and put into words everything I have learned.
As a sport management student, I loved the opportunity to be able to attend one of Canada Basketball’s events showcasing Canada’s future athletes. On both sides of the tournament Ontario took first, Quebec second, and Saskatchewan third. All in all, players, coaches and parents should have taken home more than new friendships. Here are three important lessons I took home.
1. The importance of challenging athletes to give back
Michael Linklater, a former Saskatchewan Huskies basketball player, and one of Canada’s top ranked 3×3 players, came and spoke to the athletes and coaches at the National Championships Banquet. Linklater has been playing the game for more than 20 years and provided the athletes and coaches with very valuable information that he has learned over time.
The first, and most important thing was to give back to the sport that has provided you with many opportunities. Basketball has allowed Linklater to travel all over the world, meet many people, provided an escape from his troubled community, and he has been giving back to it ever since. These athletes may only be 15 years old at most, but that still have the capacity to give back. This could be as simple as going back to their elementary school and helping out with the junior and senior teams. They can show young athletes how amazing the sport it is and talk about how they got to represent their home province at such a young age. Basketball brought many players to Regina to compete against athletes from all over Canada, they should be more than wiling to give back.
The second thing I learnt this week was also from Linklater – the importance of using visualization. He said that everything happens twice in life. First, it happens in your mind when you visualize it. This then transforms into reality. Athletes should try to use visualization and see how it can affect their game for the better. Begin in practice – you play how you practice, and practice how you play right! Next time your players are practicing their free throws, have them visualize it going into the net, both feeling and seeing it enter into the hoop. Then, let them shoot and see how they perform. Many athletes at high levels practice visualization. This is something coaches can try and instil in their athletes at a younger age.
3. Leave the coaching to the coaches
Now this is something not all parents are guilty of, but acts as a reminder to them more or less. I know my parents would try and coach me during and after my games from time to time, but I wasn’t playing basketball at this high of a level. These athletes are only 15 years old and are representing their province. This is more than a National Championship for them. This is when they are first getting recognized by Canada Basketball’s high performance managers and even scouts. Performing well on the court can lead to an invitation to Canada’s Junior Team. Therefore, it is important for parents to trust the coaches in what they are doing. Provincial coaches have many years of training under their belt and know what they are doing. If you try tell players to do differently while they are on the court this may cause confusion and interfere with what the coach had planned. Just sit back, relax and enjoy watching your child perform on the court and congratulate them for doing so well after every game.
Elizabeth Corey is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Sport Management at the University of Ottawa. She is the Student Domestic Development Coordinator at Canada Basketball, and is the Director of Events for the University of Ottawa Sports Business Club.