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The Situation

In the US, youth sports are highly popular activities that are assumed to have important physical, psychological, and social developmental benefits for millions of children, but studies found that just participating in sports doesn’t always produce the positive developmental outcome that the athletes may be seeking.

Over the last 30 years, there have been many studies detailing the changes in how young people participate in sporting activities. The one major problem most experts agree on is the lack of knowledge from youth sport leaders relative to the scientific data on children involved in sports. Without understanding the facts, many coaches are creating a negative experience for our youth. Research indicates that when programs are not executed properly, major problems can occur. The problems may include, but are not limited to, depression, excessive stress and pressure, inappropriate behaviors such as aggression and poor sportsmanship. These issues can last into adulthood (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; Hedstrom & Gould, 2004).

In addition, research has debunked the theory that participating in sports automatically builds character and moral development. Instead, studies have shown that character building needs to be “taught” rather than “caught” (Hodge 1989, Hedstrom & Gould, 2004). When fair play, sportsmanship, and moral development information is systematically and consistently taught to children in a sport setting, character can be enhanced (Bredemeier, Weiss, Shilds & Shewchuk, 1989; Gibbings, Ebbek & Weiss 1995, Hedstrom & Gould, 2004).

In 2001, Daniel Goleman popularized the theory of emotional intelligence. He believed that in addition to cognitive intelligence, individuals are equipped with emotional intelligence (EI). EI is the ability to monitor one’s own and other’s emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use the information to guide one’s thinking and actions (Salovey & Mayer, 1990, p.198). Salovey and Mayer thought that the ability to decipher emotions, utilize them, detect mood changes, and regulate among them leads to more effective interaction and communication with other people. These emotional abilities, which can be learned and refined through sport participation, help to nurture a positive attitude in children. A positive attitude is key to a happy, productive, and successful life.

After extensive research of these studies and countless youth basketball businesses including the personal experiences of their coaches, parents, and players, Basketball Paradise recognized a pattern of how youth sport training businesses market their programs versus the actual positive rewards gained by the athletes. From program to program, we found the same concepts mentioned: work ethic, discipline, goal-setting, commitment, leadership, teamwork, attitude, and success. Most programs went on to claim that being in their program would be life-changing; although, we noticed that there was no mention of how these lessons would be learned. As clinical research has indicated, these businesses assumed that they could make these generalizations because of the perceived notion that just participation in sports builds character.

We, at Basketball Paradise, assume nothing. We have done our research and through this process have developed our culture and program around the philosophy of CARING, CONNECTING & COMMITTING. We use a system of training methods where all areas of human development building are “taught”. The instruction is consistent throughout our staff and the mission is to provide the individual specific insight in order to build a foundation for long-term growth. THE LESSON IS IN THE LEARNING.