A National Alliance for Youth Sports resource helping coaches, parents and administrators provide the best youth sports experiences for children.
Wake Forest legend on welcoming challenges, focusing on fundamentals
By Greg Bach
Randolph Childress, one of the most lethal scorers in the long and storied history of Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Basketball, tormented teams during his playing days at Wake Forest.
He was deadly from three-point range, as his 329 triples rank fifth all-time in ACC play; his 2,208 career points are second in the history of Wake Forest basketball; and he averaged 36 points a game in leading Wake Forest to the 1995 ACC tournament title with a stunning win over heavily favored North Carolina.
And you can add clutch to that resume, too. He sank the game-winning shot in the waning seconds of overtime in that win over the Tar Heels.
Childress, the associate head coach for the Wake Forest men’s basketball team, traces the development of his shooting proficiency to his youth coaches who stressed the F-word – FUNDAMENTALS – something that far too often gets lost in the blur of a fast-moving youth sports season.
“The very first coach I ever had in organized basketball would make us practice the fundamentals of shooting the basketball every day,” Childress says. “We weren’t allowed to come in and shoot from half-court and do a lot of socializing. When we hit the court it was working on form shooting.”
Looking back, it’s an approach that Childress appreciates because it had a significant impact on his development.
To thoroughly enjoy any sport youngsters need to fully grasp the fundamentals. And have coaches who focus on them more than anything else.
“I think that was always something that contributed to me being able to shoot the basketball,” says Childress, who is Wake Forest’s all-time leader in three-point shooting. “I wasn’t allowed to come into the gym and goof around. We got in there and worked on form shooting or another fundamental to help our game.”
So when coaches run drills during their practices that hone in on the fundamentals, while including an element of fun in the process, players have a greater chance of learning, growing and developing in the sport.
“You try to make practice fun but you’re also looking to challenge kids as well,” Childress says. “So sometimes that’s not always fun because you’re asking kids to do some things they’ve never done before.”
So talk to players. Explain what you’re looking to achieve with them. Encourage them. Work with them. And inspire them to welcome the challenges of learning and improving in the sport.
“You try to get kids to grasp the concept of embracing change and embracing being challenged,” Childress says. “And that’s part of the learning and the growth.”
Dr. Katherine Tamminen was the lead author of a study on helping adolescent athletes cope with stress. Use her insight to help your young athletes understand stress, manage it, and excel on game day.
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