By: Joe Haefnernash

According to an interview posted by, Steve Nash did not start playing basketball until he was 12 or 13 years old. Yes, a 2-time MVP of the NBA did not start playing basketball until he was nearly a teenager.  There seems to be this myth circulating among parents and coaches that you need to start a child early in “Organized” sports in order to be successful.

The sad thing is that the complete opposite often happens, because kids:

  1. Lose interest, because sports aren’t fun any more.
  2. Get burned out.
  3. Get injured – play too many games.
  4. Don’t get enough playing time.
  5. Get too much pressure placed on them to win.

 The list could go on and on.  I’m not against organized sports. I think with the right approach, it can be very beneficial.

Here are some things I guarantee that occurred during Steve Nash’s childhood:

  1. Played multiple sports – This helped him develop into a great overall athlete. Did you know Nash was a very good soccer player? I believe he still plays some during the off-season.
  2. Developed a passion himself – I can almost guarantee he wasn’t forced to practice by his parents. Do you think you would be passionate about something if you were forced to do it?
  3. Plenty of free play – played sports in the backyard or playground without adult supervision and instruction. Don’t you think it would be beneficial for kids to solve problems and socialize without an adult instructing them how to do everything? We’re not developing robots, are we?
  4. Coaches made it fun. When I say fun, I’m not talking about hosting practices where the coaches and players skip around together singing Kum-Ba-Yah.

I’m referring to coaches:

  • Being positive.
  • Complimenting way more than criticizing. Try using Phil Jackson’s magic ratio of 5 compliments to 1 criticism or Morgan Wootten’s sandwich technique with a compliment – criticism – compliment. I honestly don’t even like to call them criticisms. I think using the term “teaching point” puts coaches in a better mindset to teach rather than just point out a flaw.
  • Disciplining (not punishing).
  • Using fun drills & games to improve skills.
  • Teaching with some enthusiasm.
  • Challenging the athletes through progressions while not making it too difficult or too easy.
Let’s stop all of this ultra-competitive athletics at an early age and develop KIDS the right way!

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