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WMBA Community Club Spring League Begins Registration in Late February

The WMBA has announced that registration for its upcoming Community Club Spring League will begin in late February and early March at over 40 community centres in the Greater Winnipeg area.  The Community Club League Spring program is open to boys and girls ages 8 through 18 and the league will run from April 12 - June 22 on weekends (ages 8-12 play Sat; ages 13-18 play Sunday).  Teams will also practice once during the week.

For more information and details on how to join Winnipeg’s largest basketball league...


Club Basketball Provincial Championships Coming May 7-10, 2015

Basketball Manitoba is pleased to announce details on the 2015 Club Basketball Provincial Championship set for May 7-10, 2015 in Winnipeg.  The 4 day event will occur at the University of Manitoba IGAC and University of Winnipeg Duckworth Centre and involves male and female teams in the 14-19 age range. Deadline to register a team is Friday April 24, 2015 at a fee of $325 per team.


Manging Time and Scores Scenarios in Your Practices

By Mike Mackay

One of the most powerful ways to aid players in their deeper understanding of the game is to practice time and score scenarios. It is amazing how many players and coaches do not know the rules of the game and how they get magnified late in a game or shot clock. I have found the following benefits:
  1. Players and coaches come to have a deeper understanding of the rules and how they can be applied 
  2. If allowed to take ownership of the scenarios (coach themselves) the players move to higher levels of thinking. They begin to understand, apply, analyze, evaluate and create.
  3. If the coach uses the players as chess pieces, they are appraised on remembering to execute what the coach has just said. This creates robots who cannot think for themselves. This ultimately leads to disaster as the coach cannot control all the variables of an end game scenario. Players realize they must think for themselves even if the coach doesn’t promote this habit. The more instinctive they players become the more success the team will have. 
  4. Since the game is the best teacher of the game; it brings a greater focus to what the players and team are doing well and need to improve on.
  5. When you work on skills and concepts there is greater focus, retention and transfer since players see relevance. 
  6. You build confidence and resiliency as players experience the ups and downs of winning and losing. They develop a growth mindset since they see that their actions can have an impact. There is always a solution. 
  7. You get a chance to practice the mental  (distraction plans, centred breathing, imagery, BAM) and social /emotional  skills ( leadership – giving energy, following, leading others, communication)
  8. It makes you a better coach. You get to know the game and your players at a higher level. 
  9. IT IS FUN  
Here is a description of how I conduct time and score scenarios.
  1. After a drill that has raised the player’s heart rate into the red zone we have the player’s split off into groups of three. Each player shoot two fouls shots, (three to a basket). Other players work on a live box outs. This forces the players to work on their centering (breathing to lower heart rate). The live box out forces concentration when tired. This is not social time. 
  2. I call in two players from opposite teams. The others are getting their water. 
  3. I give them one piece of information; for example– the score is tied ( this varies each time, sometime I don’t tell them anything) 
  4. By asking me questions they must decipher the situation 
a. Who’s ball?
b. How much time on the clock?
c. Which basket are we shooting at? (often forgotten)
d. Who’s possession arrow?
e. Shot clock? 
f. Time outs? 
g. Fouls situation – bonus, personal fouls?
h. How is play restarting – inbounds, made or missed, front court or back court, foul shot 

I write the information on my coaching white board as they ask? This helps them remember the information and decide what questions need to be asked. It also helps quell any arguments that may occur later if we did not write it down. 

 If they do not ask for information I will always find a way to mess them up. My favorite is to inbound near half court. If they have not asked about the inbounds I will call back over if thrown in the backcourt. If they did not ask about fouls I will foul out the first person who fouls. If they did not ask about the shot clock I always have the clock go off after one or two seconds. 

5. The two players go back to their team. They are the coach. I give her about 15 seconds to describe the situation and then give the team a 50 sec time out to develop a plan. The player who has the information is the coach for this time and score. Her voice should dominate. I try to have white boards available for each team. 

6. We play out the time and score. I have been known to be a very impartial official who often is quick to give technical fouls or call intentional fouls for not playing the ball when trying to foul to stop the clock.  I always call the touch foul on desperation shooters last second shot. Anything that brings focus to the decisions the players are making. If a time out has not been requested it is not granted, if not cancelled they are forced to use it. 

7. We debrief the time and score? Questions 
  • What was the plan?
  • What did we learn?
  • What might you do over?
  • What skills/concepts do we need to improve?
8. We move on to the next part of practice. I have gotten very good at leading the players to a skill /concept I know we need to work on and was just exposed in the time and score. The concentration, transfer and retention have been vastly improved.

9. In a typical two hour practice we average three time and scores a practice, one we get into our competitive season. We will often replay the time and score situation later on in the practice. 

VIEW PHOTOS: Manitoba 17U Male Team Honoured at MSSA Dinner

The Manitoba Sportswriters and Sportscasters hosted their annual Athletes of the Year Dinner on Sunday January 25 at the Delta Hotel in Winnipeg.  Basketball was well represented with the National Champion Manitoba 17U Male Provincial Team being recognized as a finalist for Team of the Year honours.  Individually, the National Championship MVP Will Kohler was singled out as a finalist as Manitoba Male Athlete of the Year.

24th Annual Duckworth Challenge Continues this Weekend with Bisons vs Wesmen

The 24th Annual Duckworth Challenge winner will be decided this week.   The annual event between the cross town rivals University of Winnipeg Wesmen and the University of Manitoba Bisons will continue with the Volleyball portion being played at the University of Manitoba on Thursday night. Match times are women at 6:00 p.m., Men at 8:00 p.m.  The scene switches over to the Dr. David F. Anderson Gymnasium on Friday night for the Basketball portion. Game times are women at 6, men at 8. The men's game will be carried live on TSN Radio 1290. Manitoba carries a 1-0 lead in this year's challenge after posting a 2-0 win in women's soccer back in September.

24th Annual Duckworth Challenge Schedule

Thursday, Jan 29 - Men's and Women's Volleyball at Manitoba
Women at 6:00 p.m.  Men at 8:00 p.m.

Friday, Jan 30 - Men's and Women's Basketball vs Manitoba
Women at 6:00 p.m.  Men at 8:00 p.m.

The 2 rivals will play again on Saturday night at the same times but at the IGAC.  The Saturday game will also be Senior Night as the final regular season home game for the Bisons this year.

More at http://www.wesmen.ca or http://www.gobisons.ca

Edmonton and Halifax to Host 2015 National Championships at 15U & 17U Level

TORONTO, ON - The 2015 15U and 17U National Championships will take place in Edmonton, Alberta and Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Female Tournament will be held at the Saville Community Sports Centre from July 24 - 29 in Edmonton and Saint Mary’s University will host the Male Tournament from August 3 – 8 in Halifax.

“It’s always exciting to see the talent that each province has to offer. These National Championships are a great opportunity for players and coaches to display their skills and solidify themselves in Canada Basketball history,” said Michele O’Keefe, Executive Director of Canada Basketball. “Nationals are an important event where the provincial and territorial teams take pride in competing for the national title.”

The 15U and 17U girls will compete in the Saville Community Sports Centre in Edmonton, which is also the training home to Canada’s Senior Women’s National team.

“After having the privilege to host this event last year, Basketball Alberta is extremely honored and excited to be hosting this event,” said Paul Sir, Executive Director, Basketball Alberta. “We are committed to creating a true celebration of our great game in Canada and make lifelong memories as we welcome teams, families, coaches and spectators to our community.”

Welcoming the 15U and 17U Boys in Halifax adds another chapter to Nova Scotia’s rich history of hosting basketball events, including the CIS and AUS championships.

David Wagg, Executive Director for Basketball Nova Scotia, is thrilled to be holding this event. "Basketball Nova Scotia is excited and honoured to be hosting the 2015 Canada Basketball U15 and U17 Boys’ National Championships. We look forward to welcoming all athletes, coaches, officials, and families from across the country, and relish the opportunity to showcase our East Coast hospitality."

For more information please contact:

Paul Sir                                                                    
Executive Director, Basketball Alberta            
780.427.9044 ext. 1

David Wagg
Executive Director, Basketball Nova Scotia
902.425.5450 ext. 348
Bailey Williams
Manager, Communications
Canada Basketball
416.614-8037 ext. 206

About Canada Basketball:

Canada Basketball is a private, not-for-profit corporation committed to excellence in leading the growth of the game domestically and in pursuing medal performances on the international stage.

DEADLINE THIS WEEK: Jr NBA Program Expanding in Manitoba for 2015-16; New Groups Can Apply by Jan 31

REMINDER:  Basketball Manitoba is pleased to announce that the Jr NBA program which launched in Manitoba this past year is looking to expand heading into the 2015-16 year.  The program comes as part of a new partnership with NBA Canada.  The Jr. NBA program provides an entry-level basketball program for young children 5 to 7 years old by providing a fun, active and healthy learning environment.  This past fall, programs began in Swan River and Winkler, Manitoba.  The Winnipeg Minor Basketball Association (WMBA) will be launching this spring with 4 of its community centres offering the program including Corydon, Lindenwoods, Norberry & Red River Community Centres.

WMBA Seeking Coaches for Jr NBA Program Beginning in April

The WMBA is looking for coaches for the Jr NBA program. The Program will start in April and run until January. Coaches would need to commit to one evening a week for 12 weeks. The NBA will be conducting a coaches clinic for coaches interested on Sunday March 22.

Those who are interested should contact the WMBA at info@wmba.ca or 204-925-5774

SNYB Original: How to Talk to Kids About Mental Health

By: Emma Glasgow

Today is Bell Let’s Talk day. A day to send a text or a tweet, or make a phone call, or post a picture to Facebook, to start the conversation about mental health and end the stigma. Mental health issues effect 1 in 5 Canadians at some point in their lives and effect 10-20% of Canadian youth. Suicide is among the leading cause of death for young Canadians and only 1 in 5 children who require mental health services receive the help they need (Canadian Mental Health Association).

As coaches, it can be easy to excuse ourselves from talking about difficult issues like mental health. It is easy to absolve the responsibility to the parents and teachers of our athletes. But 96% of children surveyed, list coaches as a greater influence than parents or teachers. And like it or not, your athletes will feel compelled to come to you when they need to talk. This responsibility may make you uncomfortable, it may even scare you. Offering your athletes an understanding ear rather than trivializing their feelings, is the BEST thing you can offer them.

Mental health is something we all have and all need to work on. Like our bodies need to be actively worked on to remain healthy, our brains require the same effort. It is important that kids understand that everyone has mental health, and everyone works to stay mentally healthy.

This may seem like a daunting topic and difficult to work into an already packed practice schedule, but according to Bell Let’s Talk there are 5 simple ways to help end the stigma surrounding mental illness all of which require very little time only your attention.


Words can help..but they can also hurt. Pay attention to the words and language you use. Children are especially keen to mimic the language around them and are also particularly sensitive to the words they hear. You may not intend harm but using words like “physcho” or “nuts” but without thinking could be harmful to those around you and may perpetuate the usage of such terms by your athletes.

How can you help?

Explain to your athletes, parents and coaches who use words like “physcho” or “nut” that they may be hurtful and provide an alternative view. Deeming those words as inappropriate in your company will send a powerful message and help change the language used by your team.


Myths exist about mental illness that contribute to stigma. Learn the facts so you can provide your athletes with the proper information and dispel myths from the outset. The earlier children understand the facts, the earlier they can take that knowledge out in the world.

How can you help?

Learn more, know more. Be knowledgeable and help fight stigma with facts. If you don’t know, don’t guess. Be honest and say “Let me look into that and I will let you know next practice!” It’s helpful for young athletes to know you don’t know everything, but that you care enough to find the truth.


Small acts of kindness speak volumes. This is particularly true for coaches as we often spend a limited amount of time with our athletes. Being kind and understanding in the little moments can be extremely reassuring and supportive for your athletes.

How can you help?

If you notice someone being labelled or bullied, don’t stand by. Ignoring instances of bullying symbolizes support for that behaviour and can further askew the already unbalanced level of power. A zero tolerance policy for instances of bullying and labels, creates a safer environment for everyone. Secondly, treat a person who has a mental illness whether it be a parent, fellow coach, athlete or spectator, with the kindness and care you give to people with other illness. Friendly smiles, a helping hand, a phone call or quick visit can go a long way!


Sometimes it’s best to just listen. Offering your athlete an understanding ear can be incredibly supportive.

How can you help?

Don’t trivialize someone’s illness. This can be particularly important for youth. We often minimize their feelings to that of regular childhood struggles, a perspective they cannot understand and one that often comes across as patronizing. Instead say, “I’m sorry to hear that, it must be a difficult time. Is there anything I can do to help?” By listening and asking, you are starting the conversation and letting your athlete know that this is a safe, supportive space.


Start a dialogue not a debate. Don’t argue with how your athlete is feeling, talk about it. Work to understand how they feel and why they are feeling that way.

How can you help?

Break the silence. Talk about how mental illness touches us all in some way directly or through a friend, family member or colleague. Stories of lived experiences are the best way to help eradicate stigma. Offering your perspective or experience, helps normalize your athlete’s feelings and lets them know they are not alone. If there are mental health and anti-stigma programs in your community, support them! They often have excellent resources you can pass along to parents and kids, and may even be interested in checking out your practice.

The sporting experience can be a stressful environment for all youth, but particularly those suffering from mental health issues. Physical activity remains one of the best ways to manage mental health. As a coach, you have a responsibility to creating and sustaining a physically, mentally and emotionally safe and supportive environment for your athletes. Be attentive to the language you use, educating yourself on the facts of mental health, being kind, listening and asking, and talking about mental health are five simple ways you can help end the stigma. The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow, imparting in them the ability to talk about mental health in a factual, kind and supportive manner is the best step to ending the stigma of mental illness. Coaches, go forward and use your influence to produce mentally healthy athletes and youth!


Bell Let’s Talk-End the Stigma: letstalk.bell.ca

Canadian Mental Health Association- Fast Facts About Mental Illness: http://ift.tt/1tqawT5

Additional Resources:

Canadian Mental Health Alliance (CMHA)- Parenting Resources: http://ift.tt/1tqazhI

Do it for Daron-Transforming Youth Mental Health: http://www.difd.com/

Kid’s Help Phone- 1-800-668-6868- http://ift.tt/1zMDbSc

The Canadian Alliance for Mental Illness and Mental Health: camimh.ca

The Jack Project- Young Leaders Transforming the Way we Think About Mental Illness : http://www.jack.org/

Source: Steve Nash Youth Basketball Blog http://ift.tt/1Da6RII

Latest High School Top 10 Issued at All Levels

The MHSAA has its latest Top 10 rankings of the season out for the last week of January for all levels of the game.  See the full list at...

REMINDER: EJB Basketball Offering Free Boys 2005 Development Program

The EJB Basketball program will be offering a free boys 2005 development team.  Coach John Barbosa,  NCCP Level 2, formerly of the Manitoba Magic (2009-12), Elites (2013), Kirkfield Westwood (2005-presently co-coaching KW 2005 boys Lakers Division).  The team will practice every Wednesday evening from 7:00 - 8:30 pm starting February 28.  The team will be based in the Crestview area of the city and will focus on basic fundamentals and off/def team play.  They are looking for players who are b-ball students with a pure desire to listen/watch/learn and spots will be limited to first 12 approved/registered players.

Players will have to be registered with Basketball Manitoba for insurance reasons.  Cost for insurance will depend if players are presently registered with WMBA.  Estimated cost for insurance $10-$20 per player.  If parents/players are interested, the program might take the team to Jr. Grand Am tourney in Grand Forks this spring and/or have a Winnipeg 2005 boys tourney in the spring.

Interested parents please contact coach John Barbosa for more info at


In Memory of Jim Schrofel

The University of Winnipeg Wesmen is sad to announce that long time Women’s Basketball Team Manager Jim Schrofel passed away suddenly on Tuesday, January 20th, 2015.

For the past 19 years his greatest joy was working with the Wesmen Women’s Basketball team, serving in the capacity of team manager. In the 19 years with the team Schrofel had the honour to work with 104 players and 20 members of the coaching staff.

One member of the coaching staff who knew Jim the longest is head coach Tanya McKay. Jim served as team manager with McKay for five years at Silver Heights Collegiate and when McKay was hired as the University of Winnipeg’s Women’s Basketball head coach in 1995, Schrofel was asked to make the move also and the rest is history.

“Jim has been with me my entire coaching career. He was my right hand guy. My buddy. Words cannot express what he meant to me and our entire Wesmen Program. Jim will be greatly missed and never forgotten”, added Tanya McKay.

Jim’s biggest thrill was being around the players at practice and each and every home game. His positive attitude was shared by all the players who looked to Jim for a smile or a simple high five before every game.

“Jim will never know how many lives he touched, simply by just opening a door, giving someone a high five, cracking a smile even when my jokes were not funny. Jim was the glue to our team, there was not a single part of him that did not bleed Wesmen red. This year your Wesmen family plays for you Jimbo. We all love and miss you”, said fifth year team captain Stephanie Kleysen.

A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. at Blessed John XXIII Parish, 3390 Portage Avenue.

A Jim Schrofel Scholarship Fund will be created to help the University of Winnipeg Wesmen Women’s Basketball Program.

The Perils of Single-Sport Participation; A Must Read for All Sport Parents

Ohio St recruitsThe latest Changing the Game Project article offers a quick meta analysis of the massive amount of evidence against early specialization. The article does a nice job of highlighting the benefits of late specialization for athletes of all ages. Free play and involvement in a variety of sports builds better athletes. It expands their creativity, deepens the breadth of their physical literacy and decreases the risk of overuse injuries and burnout. The evidence against early specialization is overwhelming. It’s time to give children back their childhood and allow them the opportunity to not just play multiple sports, but to just play!
By: John O’Sullivan
For the last few days, my email and social media accounts have been lit up by a simple image first shared with me on Twitter by @ohiovarsity. It is amazing because the image portrays something that is widely known among experts, widely discussed in coaching circles, and has certainly been written about by me and others many times. Yet this excellent blog article on a high school sports site got over half a million shares in the first 3 days it was out because this image touched a nerve
Why? Well, here is the image:
The question I was asked over and over this week was “What do you think of this?”
My answer, over and over was, “Amen, agreed, hopefully now people will start paying attention.”
If it takes an infographic of Urban Meyer’s football recruits at Ohio State to shift the paradigm in youth sports, then so be it. The image above, which clearly demonstrates that the overwhelming majority of his recruits are multi-sport kids, is not new information, but it has caused quite a stir. Here is what it says in a nutshell:
To be an elite level player at a college or professional sport, you need a degree of exceptional athleticism. And the best medically, scientifically and psychologically recommended way to develop such all around athleticism is ample free play and multiple sport participation as a child.
Why? Well let’s see what the experts say:

Coaches and Elite Athletes:

Pete Carroll, former USC and now Seattle Seahawks Football coach, says here “The first questions I’ll ask about a kid are, ‘What other sports does he play? What does he do? What are his positions? Is he a big hitter in baseball? Is he a pitcher? Does he play hoops?’ All of those things are important to me. I hate that kids don’t play three sports in high school. I think that they should play year-round and get every bit of it that they can through that experience. I really, really don’t favor kids having to specialize in one sport. Even [at USC], I want to be the biggest proponent for two-sport athletes on the college level. I want guys that are so special athletically, and so competitive, that they can compete in more than one sport.”
Dom Starsia, University of Virginia men’s lacrosse: “My trick question to young campers is always, ‘How do you learn the concepts of team offense in lacrosse or team defense in lacrosse in the off-season, when you’re not playing with your team?’ The answer is by playing basketball, by playing hockey and by playing soccer and those other team games, because many of those principles are exactly the same. Probably 95 percent [of our players] are multi-sport athletes. It’s always a bit strange to me if somebody is not playing other sports in high school.”
Or in this interview with Tim Corbin, coach of NCAA Champion Vanderbilt Baseball, on why he chooses multi-sport athletes over single sport kids.
Or Ashton Eaton, world record holder and gold medalist in the decathlon, who never participated in 6 of the 10 required decathlon events until he got to the University of Oregon.
Or Steve Nash, who got his first basketball at age 13 and credits his soccer background for making him a great basketball player, a similar story to the 100 professional athletes interviewed in Ethan Skolnick and Dr. Andrea Korn’s Raising Your Game .
The list goes on and on.

What about the medical experts?

As I have outlined in my ebook “Is it Wise to Specialize?” and echoed in world renowned orthopedic surgeon James Andrew’s book Any Given Monday, there are strong medical reasons for not specializing at a young age:
  1. Children who specialize in a single sport account for 50% of overuse injuries in young athletes according to pediatric orthopedic specialists.
  2. A study by Ohio State University found that children who specialized early in a single sport led to higher rates of adult physical inactivity. Those who commit to one sport at a young age are often the first to quit, and suffer a lifetime of consequences.
  3. In a study of 1200 youth athletes, Dr Neeru Jayanthi of Loyola University found that early specialization in a single sport is one of the strongest predictors of injury. Athletes in the study who specialized were 70% to 93% more likely to be injured than children who played multiple sports!
  4. Children who specialize early are at a far greater risk for burnout due to stress, decreased motivation and lack of enjoyment
  5. Early sport specialization in female adolescents is associated with increased risk of anterior knee pain disorders including PFP, Osgood Schlatter and Sinding Larsen-Johansson compared to multi-sport athletes, and may lead to higher rates of future ACL tears.

And the sport scientists?

In January 2015, I had the honor of sitting in a lecture with Manchester United Performance Coach Tony Strudwick, winner of 13 titles as the fitness coach for Manchester United’s first team. His advice was that a multi-sport background set up athletes for long-term success by lowering the rates of injuries and making them more adaptable to the demands of elite level play. “More often than not,” he stated in a recent interview with SoccerWire.com, “the best athletes in the world are able to distinguish themselves from the pack thanks to a range of motor skills beyond what is typically expected in a given sport.” He recommended tumbling and gymnastic movements, as well as martial arts, basketball, and lacrosse as great crossover sports for soccer.
Here are some other advantages I have previously written about:
  1. Better Overall Skills and Ability:Research shows that early participation in multiple sports leads to better overall motor and athletic development, longer playing careers, increased ability to transfer sports skills other sports and increased motivation, ownership of the sports experience, and confidence.
  1. Smarter, More Creative Players: Multi-sport participation at the youngest ages yields better decision making and pattern recognition, as well as increased creativity. These are all qualities that coaches of high-level teams look for.
  1. Most College Athletes Come From a Multi-Sport Background: A 2013 American Medical Society for Sports Medicine survey found that 88% of college athletes surveyed participated in more than one sport as a child
  1. 10,000 Hours is not a Rule: In his survey of the scientific literature regarding sport specific practice in The Sports Gene, author David Epstein finds that most elite competitors require far less than 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. Specifically, studies have shown that basketball (4000), field hockey (4000) and wrestling (6000) all require far less than 10,000 hours.
  1. There are Many Paths to Mastery: A 2003 study on professional ice hockey players found that while most pros had spent 10,000 hours or more involved in sports prior to age 20, only 3000 of those hours were involved in hockey specific deliberate practice (and only 450 of those hours were prior to age 12).

Are all sports the same?

No, they are not. They each require specific athletic, technical, and tactical skill sets. Some sports, in order to be elite, require early specialization, such as gymnastics and figure skating.
Other sports are so dependent upon physical prowess (American football, basketball, volleyball, rugby and others) that the technical skills and tactical know how can be developed later. There are many stories of athletes taking up these sports in their teens, even 20’s, and playing at a very high level because of the ability to transfer skills learned in one sport to another.
And then there are sports like hockey and soccer, which without a doubt require an early introduction to the sport. There are technical movements and skills that are most sensitive to improvement prior to a child’s growth spurt, and it is unlikely that a post-pubescent child is able to catch up if that is their first introduction to the sport.
HOWEVER, there is no evidence that pre-teen athletes in these sports should only play a single sport. As both the hockey evidence and the interview with Tony Strudwick mentioned above demonstrate, playing multiple sports early on sets these athletes up for longer-term success. They can better meet the demands of elite level play. They are less likely to get injured or burnout, and more likely to persist through the struggles needed to become a high-level performer.
If you want your child to play at a high-level, then the best thing you can do is help them find a sport that best suits their abilities, and help create an environment that gives them the best chance of success. 
That environment is a multi-sport one. The evidence is in. It is pretty conclusive.
It is time for our youth sports organizations to not only allow but encourage multi-sport participation. Yes, it is tough on the bottom line. But ask yourself this:
Is your bottom line worth more than the well-being of the children you have been entrusted with educating?
So what do you think? Should kids play multiple sports? Only one? If you think specialization is the right path prior to the teenage growth spurt (excluding gymnastics and figure skating), then by all means bring some evidence and links to the discussion. And if not, then how about some thoughts on how we can stand up and change the status quo that forces kids to choose far too young.
Thanks to Urban Meyer and the poignant image of his recruiting class breakdown, we now have the opportunity to have this discussion.
We have the opportunity to serve our children better.
We have the responsibility to help them become better athletes by encouraging them to become all-around athletes.
And we can do this by letting them play multiple sports.

Source: https://stevenashyb.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/the-perils-of-single-sport-participation/

Wpg Boys & Girls Club Hosting FREE Community Club Tournament for Ages 11-15 on Feb 14-15 at St. Paul's HS

The Boys and Girls Club of Winnipeg have announced they will be hosting a basketball tournament for community club teams at the 11, 14 & 15 year old boys level and the 13-14 girls level on February 14-15 at St. Paul's High School in Winnipeg.  There is NO COST to register as the tournament is being graciously supported by Johnson Waste Management and St. Paul's High School in support of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Winnipeg.  All teams will receive 3 games and participant t-shirts.  Teams will be registered on a first come first served basis.  There are no WMBA games scheduled that weekend due to the Louis Riel Day holiday.  Contact Karen Dueck at (204) 982-4949 or dueck@wbgc.mb.ca.  For more info...

SCOREBOARD - Jan 24, 2015

Check out today's collection of game scores from all levels of basketball in Manitoba...

The Importance of Play for Motor Learning in Basketball

Below is an article, that does an excellent job of defining play and explaining its benefits. Very often in sport we tend to define play in the context of games or challenges. It stands to argue that although this may be achieving some of the benefits of play, like fun, it is often contrived with discrete outcomes in mind. Hargrove’s definition stresses that play is improvisational with natural consequences as opposed to constructed goals. He also makes great connections between the importance play and learning, and the global benefits of play on the body and brain. This article is a must read for anyone who likes to play!

By: Todd Hargrove

I frequently make the claim on this blog that movement is best learned with an approach that incorporates an attitude of curiosity, exploration and play. Play is one of the central tools used in the Feldenkrais Method, which I think is an excellent way to train efficient movement. The purpose of this post is to define play and explain why it is central to any learning process, and discuss ways in which play can be blended with work to make it more effective.

Play defined

Play is one of those things that may be easier to recognize than define. Scientists studying play have come up with only vague and fuzzy definitions. In fact, a major play theorist named Johan Huizinga developed a definition that some refer to as the “magic circle” theory. That one creeps me out a little, sounds like Mr. Rogers. Stuart Brown, a play researcher who wrote a popular book on play, proposes the following definition. Play is an activity that:

  • is voluntary
  • has no obvious survival value or is apparently purposeless
  • is pleasurable or fun
  • creates a diminished sense of time and self consciousness
  • is improvisational

I like this definition because it helps distinguish play from work, which has almost the opposite set of qualities. Work is often done under the stress of need, has clear goals or purposes, and is usually not much fun. We often approach the practice of physical skills as a form of work, but there is great value in approaching practice in a more playful manner. Here is why.

Play is central to learning

Scientists studying play uniformly agree that it is an absolutely essential part of the learning process for all intelligent animals. The evidence for this conclusion comes from many sources. First, all intelligent animals play. The more intelligent the animal is, the more it plays. Chimps, dolphins, and dogs play more than snakes, turtles and bugs. Humans are the smartest animals and play the most. Intelligent animals deprived of normal play do not develop into normal adults. Rats grow up aggressive, and have poor social skills. The same is true of humans – Brown’s research shows that violent Texas inmates had very distinctly limited positive experiences with play as children. Dogs deprived of play will show severe learning problems as adults and will walk into open flames. Ouch.

Further, all animals engage in the most play during the times of their lives when the educational demands are the highest. This may strike us as counter-intuitive if we assume that play is a diversion from more productive processes like working. However, in the times of life when an animal needs to get the most done in terms of learning – when it has to master physical skills necessary for hunting, or learn social skills necessary for mating and group membership – these are the exact times when the animal naturally engages in the most play. Animals cannot survive if they fail to develop essential life skills, and evolution has left the job of teaching these crucial skills to  …. play. What this means is that play is the best solution to difficult education problems that evolution has found. And, as a wise man once said, evolution is cleverer than you are. It produces solutions to problems that are so elegant, powerful and efficient that they make the best efforts of our best scientists look like child’s play. (That’s a pun!) So if evolution thinks that play is a good solution to learning, we should listen. Here are some of the ways that play helps foster learning.

A stress free environment is necessary for optimal learning

Play is by definition fun and voluntary, so animals only play when they are not under any form of survival stress. Animals brought into a new environment will generally not start playing until they scope out the area pretty well and make sure the coast is clear. (I have seen my four year old do this at playgrounds repeatedly.) Learning is essentially an investment in the future, and brains are programmed to make that investment only when things are looking pretty squared away in the present. By contrast, if you are under some form of stress that threatens survival, the brain is not primed to learn or play.

As a practical matter, this means that if you approach your practice for a sport or other activity with an overly serious mindset that creates stress, you are activating a brain pattern that is not conducive to learning. If you make sure your practice is fun and stress free, you have a better chance to make it productive. In other words if you are not feeling ready to play, you are probably not really ready to learn either. This is why the Feldenkrais Method incorporates many moves that are fun, like rolling, crawling, seeing if you can interlace all your toes together like they were hands, etc. It also has students move as slowly and carefully as possible to minimize pain, discomfort and stress.

Exploration and improvisation improve learning

Play is by definition more exploratory and open ended than work, which is more defined and goal directed. An amazing example of how curious exploration and playfulness can speed learning is shown by the “hole in the wall experiment.” A prominent Indian physicist was curious what would happen when he placed a computer with high speed internet access embedded in a concrete wall in one of the poorest slums of India. The computer attracted the most attention from street kids aged 6-12 who had never seen such an object before and were curious about what it was. Within days, and with no instruction whatsoever, the kids were playing games and surfing the internet. In short, they developed what most adults consider computer literacy (and what my mom has not yet developed even after attending classes) almost immediately just through play and exploration. I would imagine that these kids would not have learned anywhere near as quickly if they were forced to work at learning computer skills in a typical classroom setting.

Unfortunately, we often approach the practice of physical skills as a form of work, but as the above example shows, there is great value in approaching practice in a more playful manner. An improvisational approach to practicing physical skills encourages movements or techniques that are novel or unusual, which has several benefits. First, novel stimulus is more likely to get the brain’s attention and excite more neural activity in more areas of the brain. In other words, the stage is set for neural growth and new connections, which is what learning is all about.

Second, novel movement means new proprioceptive information for the body maps. One of the ways that motor learning occurs is by comparing the different outcomes related to different movement methods and then deciding which is most efficient. More ways to move means more comparisons equals more ways to learn. This is why we learn from mistakes. The major point here is that trying something in a non-habitual way can produce learning even if the new method is not as efficient as the habitual way.

Here’s an example to illustrate. Golfers are always fiddling with their equipment, tweaking their stance, swing, grip, posture, etc. Even though these little tweaks rarely lead to permanent changes in technique, I believe they are an important part of the learning process. Let’s say the golfer adjusts his grip so that it is rotated slightly to the right of the habitual place. If he has been playing golf for a while, chances are the new grip will be slightly less efficient, because he has already optimized the best place for his hands. However, swinging the club with the new grip will cause all sorts of other minor adjustments in swing technique, which provide his brain with a massive amount of new information about swing mechanics. This is a good thing. Perhaps there is something about the new grip that encourages a slightly different hip motion, which feels more powerful and controlled. Perhaps his brain remembers the new hip action even when he returns to the old grip, and improvement results. Perhaps the golfer considers the grip change a failed experiment, a fun but wasteful diversion from the real work of getting better at golf. Maybe he doesn’t even realize that this little diversion was the most productive thing he did at the driving range that day.

The point here is that play can cause learning in a roundabout or unpredictable fashion. The inherent unpredictability of play is a way to guard against getting in ruts caused by habits that develop as a result of being too focused on the goal and not attentive enough to the creative process. One of the paradoxes of play is that goals are sometimes more easily achieved by forgetting the goal for a while. Yes, it sounds Zen.

This is why the Feldenkrais Method uses novel interesting movements that you would never use in everyday life – such as rolling from side to side while holding the feet. This unusual constraint is impractical in life, but it can inspire new movement patterns that are very practical and would not be otherwise be discovered.

Play has global benefits

We often think of play as a primitive or unsophisticated form of practice or rehearsal for later activities. So, the lion cub who enjoys stalking and pouncing and wrestling with her sisters is practicing for the hunt. There is some truth to this, but it turns out that lions who are deprived of rough and tumble play in their youth are able to hunt just fine – what they lack are appropriate social interactions with other lions. Thus, their play is actually more of a lesson in social skills than physical skills. This is an example of the fact that play involves many different brain functions, and has the potential to provide a wide range of effects.

Further, play also seems to have a more global effect on the brain than work. For example, rats who are required to find their way through a maze (not play) experience neural growth in the one specific area of the brain responsible for this task. By contrast, rats placed in an enhanced play environment experience global brain benefits – they have thicker cortexes. Play researcher Stephen Siva says that “play just lights everything up.” What this means is that play excites many different parts of the brain – more connections are made, more neural growth occurs, and learning occurs faster and with more permanence. Play activates brain derived neurotrophic factor which stimulates nerve growth. This is why longer recess correlates with better performance at school.

Stuart Brown compares play to REM sleep in its ability to provide global benefits to the entire brain. Brown thinks that both play and sleep are an integral part of a process of “wiring the brain up” into its most efficient organization. Brown speculates that this may happen through a process of neural Darwinism, as described by Gerald Edelman. The idea is that in both play and REM sleep, the brain spontaneously engages in a wide variety of creative and almost random patterns, which are tested and then discarded according to a process of natural selection, by which only the most efficient and organized patterns persist. So, just as evolution is an undirected process built on randomness that ultimately results in amazingly intricate designs through natural selection, play is a similarly undirected and unmanaged process that ultimately results in a highly organized brain.

What to do

So what do we do with this information? The most obvious thing is to try to make work (any kind of work really) more fun. This will put your brain in the right frame of mind to learn, and make creative connections, avoid habitual roadblocks etc. Put another way, if you are not ready to have fun, you are probably not ready to learn much.

Second, realize that not all practice has to be intensely focused on the exact goal. Detours from the main road can somehow paradoxically lead to a quicker arrival time. Here are some examples. If you are playing tennis, spend some time learning some new ways to spin your racquet, or playing with a two handed forehand. If you are a soccer player, practice your juggling skills with a tennis ball. If you are a basketball player, practice dribbling two balls at once. (Of course only do these things if you find them fun.) You might object that these skills will never be used on the field and seem like a potential waste of time. However, ask any professional athlete to show you some tricks, and they will display a vast array of bizarre skills they would never use on the field in a million years. For example, check out Ronaldhino juggling or Tiger hitting a golf ball out of the air. The best will spend considerable time playfully exploring their games, and so should you.

Source: https://stevenashyb.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/the-importance-of-play-for-motor-learning/

SCOREBOARD - Jan. 23, 2015

Check out today's collection of game scores from all levels of basketball in Manitoba...

Dan Becker & Randy Kusano to Lead Norman CalmAir Sport Series in Flin Flon This Weekend

Basketball Manitoba's Dan Becker & Randy Kusano are hosting the  CalmAir Sport Series in Flin Flon this Weekend.  The 2 day event will attract over 50 basketball male & female players and coaches from the Flin Flon and surrounding communities at the 10-18 age range to take part in on-court training with Dan and Randy.  Supporting the clinic is Sheldon Reynolds of Coaching Manitoba who will provide additional training and support for the local coaches.

Basketball Manitoba is grateful to Iris Murray and the Norman Sport Association, Sport Manitoba and CalmAir for supporting this initiative!  This marks the second year of the Sport Series involving basketball.  In January 2014, the event was hosted in Thompson, Manitoba.

Much of the content covered for the players and coaches can be seen in the Basketball Manitoba Coach School videos below or at this link.  The next Basketball Coach School will be hosted in Leaf Rapids on February 7 with coach Grant Richter.


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