Your Kid’s Basketball Future Starts Here!
Your Kid’s Basketball Future Starts Here! – Chris Ward Basketball: If your son or daughter wants to move up the depth chart of their travel team, be a varsity basketball player or even play in college you need to know about Chris Ward. A former Assistant Coach at the University of South Carolina Upstate, Chris was selected NY State Section 1 Coach of the Year when he led Hastings HS to an undefeated season.
Chris Ward Basketball holds Player Development clinics and camps year round for boys and girls ages 8 and up. A spot on one of his five AAU teams guarantees exposure with college coaches that could launch your child’s college career. He has placed over 50 CWB grads in programs at over 35 NCAA colleges – mostly at high academic schools that play a highly competitive brand of D3 hoops. Including Middlebury, Vassar, Bowdoin, Emory, Washington & Lee, Skidmore, Manhattan College and six SUNY schools. Here’s our interview with Chris:
What’s the most important skill to pick up early – ball handling or shooting?
Both. In our camps and player development programs we try to balance it out. Some kids pick up ball handling early because their coordination has kicked in. Others take a little longer. Obviously, the better you handle the ball the easier it is to be successful in an offensive setting. But we doctor their shots early too. We don’t wait.
What’s the most common problem kids have with their shot?
The mechanics of shooting is simple but it’s complex. We have eight points (hands, fingers, shoulders, elbow) that we stress. But the most common problem is when you don’t bring your left hand up with your right. That flattens the trajectory of the shot.
Is a shooter born or made?
Both. But everyone has to work at it. I’ve had kids who were not natural shooters who developed very quickly. For others it’s a longer process. And we’ve seen good shooters who didn’t work at it and didn’t develop any further.
What’s wrong with my kid? He doesn’t shoot enough!
No kid can shoot enough to satisfy their dads. They fear their kids lack confidence or natural aggressiveness. Maybe. Usually, they just need to play more. Repetition breeds confidence. The kids who score the ball at any level often have just put more time in on the court.
She’s not getting enough skill time on her travel team!
For 9 to 12 year olds, coaches stress team skills because they have limited gym time. They have to teach inbound plays, press breaks, offensive and defensive sets and can only allot 20-30 minutes a practice for individual skills. So a lot of kids that age come to us to supplement their team’s practices. The best environment is a small group clinic where you work on skills in a team set in game situations. I’m not big on private sessions at this age.
Tell us about your camps and clinics
Our player development program offers straight up individual offensive skill development for game applications for boys and girls, ages 8 and up – all skill levels. Our school-break and summer camps for ages 8-15 are teaching camps. When you come to our camp you get me. I’m the hands-on coach of the camp. We’re not a roll out the ball and play camp and we’re not a place you go to get autographs from NBA players. In late June we hold an Elite Camp for high-level varsity players and post-grads going on to play college basketball.
We start with two hours of game related skill stations. Campers learn how to play in a motion style, ball screen offense. And we teach them how to defend that as well. We teach them to pass the ball. You come to our camp and the two best players are not taking all the shots. The ball has to move and everybody touches the ball. Then we have some contests and finish up with live five on five games.
How do you get on a Chris Ward Basketball AAU team?
We’re very proud of our AAU program. Since 2008 we’ve won 58% of our games playing the toughest schedule we can find. We’re the only AAU program on the East coast that plays the type of tournament schedule we do that doesn’t recruit or have open tryouts. Players come to our teams through our camps and clinics or a recommendation from a local varsity coach.
A college coach told us that Chris Ward teams “play the right way”
We converted to a European system after watching European players beat the USA in international competition in 2006. We had kids who compared to European and South American kids so we thought we could compete with that type of system. It’s a spread offense, no one in the post, continuity-motion and ball screen on every pass. It took five years to refine our offense but we’ve had a lot of success.
And you beat top East Coast teams!
We’ve been successful because we have enough kids with size and natural ability combined with the teaching they get that allows us to compete. But you’re right that we do beat some serious talent. I tell tournament directors that we will play who ever you put in front of us. We play teams that recruit D1 scholarship players from large urban centers in New York, DC, Philly, and Baltimore. We don’t go begging for an easy schedule.
How do you get exposure with college coaches for your players? Last year we had college coaches coming to our practices. It’s not every AAU team that can say that. Then we go to live events to get in front of college coaches. We go to Hoop Group in Lancaster, PA, Basketbull in Springfield, MA; the Springfield Hall of Fame Classic that is heavily attended by D1, D2 and D3 coaches, and Gym Rats in Albany, the largest live tournament on the East Coast.
Do you get on the phone to help your kids with college coaches?
I feel obligated to help our kids get into schools that are the right fit academically, socially and athletically. I’m on the phone almost every day with coaches on the east coast and in the mid-west. They know the kind of program we run and that our kids are prepared for the demands of college basketball. Not everyone who plays in our program goes on to play college. But if we feel you’re good enough and we can match you up with a school that fits your academic needs –we help.
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