Archive for Thursday, June 4, 2009

Basketball then and now

June 4, 2009

This past weekend we attended the MAYB (Mid America Youth Basketball) tournament in Bonner Springs.

Our two grandsons played a total of 10 games between them, and we saw most of them. They went from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. This has got to be hard on parents and especially grandparents to keep up with it all. The games were played in three separate school buildings, and teams shifted from one building to another all day long. The games went from exciting close games to not-so-exciting wins or losses by a big score. Both boys’ teams ended up in third place.

I started thinking back about the grade school team I coached 65 years ago during World War II and how much the game has changed since then. Our grandsons played more games this weekend than my team would play in a whole season. Most of the games now are played in air-conditioned gyms with two paid referees. We never had a paid official but an older basketball player from the high school who loved to referee.

The differences in the teams now compared to 65 years ago are many. The biggest difference is that the teams now dribble about 90 percent more than we did back then and there is not enough passing. To my way of thinking, real basketball is passing and not dribbling. Many times I have seen a player dribble from one end of the gym to the other, and by the time they get there they are tired and frustrated and throw the ball away. Don’t get me wrong; I love to see the amazing ability of the players now that can dribble around any player on the floor and then put the ball in the basket.

Since there were no paid coaches in grade school then, we relied on the rule book and concentrated on passing, passing, passing and not so much on dribbling. We also demonstrated over and over to not take steps and no double-dribbling. Even though it makes a more exciting and faster moving game, it is so important to learn this at an early age.

What I think is a very important thing for every player to learn is which is their pivot foot. This is the foot you have the most weight on when you catch the ball and being able to pivot in all directions keeps the ball away from the opponent.

Regardless of the differences, I think basketball is a fantastic sport to play, watch or coach. Hats off to all our dedicated coaches.

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