Dear Coach: I have a son who plays youth basketball. He loves the sport, but I don't think he understands the game. How do I teach him the fundamentals and get him to practice shooting, passing and good work habits without ruining his enthusiasm?
HANDLING WITH CARE
Dear Handling: Emphasize to him that improving his fundamentals will also increase his love for the game. "Ask him, 'Want to do some dribbling and shooting? I'll rebound for you,' " says Dave Faucher, basketball coach at Dartmouth and author of The Baffled Parent's Guide to Coaching Youth Basketball. "Then get into some friendly one-on-one. It will reinforce how much fun the game can be while also honing his skills." But don't curtail your son's solo work. Says Faucher, "A lot of children have learned the fundamentals of the game, and the only thing they had was themselves, a ball and a basket."
Dear Coach: I'm an eighth-grader about to go to high school, and I have a choice to play soccer or football. I've never played football, but I would like to try. I have played soccer since first grade. Which sport should I play?
Dear Pick: It sounds as if you've already decided to do something different, so try football and see if you enjoy it. If not, there's nothing to prevent you from going back to soccer. In fact, many communities offer soccer programs throughout the year, so you could try playing football in the fall for your school and continue to play soccer in the winter or spring with a club.