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Founded by Coach Ed Phipps, the East Valley Dragons is a new east valley club basketball team offering competitive youth basketball training and playing opportunities. The program is already showing its success by winning the Dunking in the Desert 14U Championship that took place on November 19 at the Gilbert Boys & Girls Club.
For more information on the Dragons, contact Ed Phipps at 480-306-3749 or by email at TheEastValleyDragons@gmail.com
The Arizona Elite Girls Basketball Club, Inc. is the first and oldest girls club basketball program in the state. Elite is a non-profit organization (501(c)(3)), developed for the purpose of providing the young female student athlete the necessary basketball, social, and leadership skills required to compete at the collegiate level. In Tucson, each fall period, we conduct rigorous tryout sessions for ages 8-13 (Junior Division). Players are selected based upon their athletic performance, basketball IQ and their attitude displayed off the court.
The HoopHall West is an annual high school invitational tournament that attracts some of the top teams and players in the country. Aligned with the Hoop Hall West is the Junior HoopHall West which is coordinated by local tournament director Justin Peterson and offers 4th - 8th grade club teams the opportunity to be associated with this high school invitational. Competitive youth basketball players will get a chance to both play and view some of the top high school players in the country.
Joining an 8th grade or younger club basketball program for student-athletes should be well-thought out and one must be ready for a serious commitment of time and money.
Be prepare to invest money since it takes a serious financial commitment to pay the training fees as well as the playing fees which include both travel expenses, uniforms and tournament registration fees associated with club basketball. In addition, be prepare to also invest most of your weekends at basketball tournaments.
When it comes to local club teams versus travel teams, know that many good club programs focus on training and playing in the local area. Others invest most of their time traveling out of state to high-profile events. So the first question you must ask yourself is do you want to focus on a club team that spends most of its time training and playing in the local area or are you enamored with the concept of traveling to far flung places. Once you determine this, it becomes easier to choose the club program that best fits your needs.
A key factor to consider is training time. If you want to accelerate development you will want to be associated with a club program that offers a lot of training hours. If a lot of training hours is important to you then be prepared to pay the training fees. Most club programs offer 2 to 3 hours of training per week, however, the truly best training programs train everyday and offer 6 to 8 hours a week and this does not include the time invested in the weekends for tournament and league play. Very few club programs offer this many hours so when you do find one that does, seriously consider that program because realistically it does take a lot of training hours to truly become an elite basketball player.
Another very important aspect is the length of time that the club program has been in existence. Club programs pop up everyday and go away just as quickly. Establishing a new club program is very easy to start but very difficult to maintain. Look for the club programs that have a track record of being around for quite some time. You will find that the ones that have longevity are usually managed as a professional player development academy as opposed to a created-on-a-whim volunteer coach part-time gig. Look for the programs that are all about player development and that have been around for quite some time.
Last but not least is the quality of the coach and trainers. How much experience do they have teaching the sport of basketball? Are they great instructors? Not everyone can teach. Teaching is an art. Do your homework and ask a lot of questions of the coaches and trainers who will be developing your child.
There are other factors to consider when choosing a club program, however, the above are the most important of all to consider.
JuniorHoops.com | Jose Morales
For the purpose of this article, the focus will be on basketball. When it comes to basketball, it has been my experience throughout my last 12 years serving as a youth player development specialist that basketball is a very skill-sensitive sport. If the student-athlete does begin to train early and consistently, the skills required to be successful in basketball will not be in place in time to make their middle school teams.
But how early should the young athlete focus on just one-sport depends on his age. In my professional opinion, all kids should be playing multiple sports until they are in 4th grade. They should start as early as possible and try as many sports as possible. Where the love or passion for the game will be is the great unknown until they have played in the sport. However, by the time they get into the 5th grade they should be dwindling down the number of sports to two or maybe one.
It has been my experience that it takes about 2 years to become a well-rounded basketball player who plays at a high-level for his age group. Beginning to seriously train around the 5th grade will allow the necessary time to develop all the skills necessary to dominate most of their peers when it comes time to trying out for the 7th grade middle school team. In Arizona, I have observed that anywhere from 50 to even as high as 75 students tryout for a 12 man 7th grade basketball roster. That is intense competition and athleticism , although important, is not the main factor to make the team. Almost on every occasion, the students that tryout and show up with excellent skills in shooting, ball-handling, passing and defense almost always make their teams. With the competition so intense, it is nearly impossible to make a team when a student has to go up against those who have specialized in basketball as their main sport and consequently have been training with a focused vigor since 5th grade.
For those trying out for the 8th grade, the same number of 50 to 75 students tryout for a 12 man roster whose coach is most likely going to recruit most of the 7th graders from the previous year. It becomes more difficult to make the 8th grade team simply because there a usually only one or two spots to fill because the previous year's 7th grade players are the ones that normally graduate right into the 8th grade team.
If you think that it is a challenge to make the middle school teams, know that it becomes a quantum leap in difficulty trying to make the high school Freshmen team. Likewise for Junior Varsity and Varsity. At the high school level, the competition gets even more intense and those players who have never participated in the 7th and 8th grade teams who show up to high school basketball tryouts face an incredible difficult hurdle to overcome.
When it comes to basketball the student-athletes simply need to start specializing around the 5th grade in order to prepare to make their middle school teams. My observation has been that most of the students that eventually make their high school teams are the ones that started early by training and playing competitive club basketball from 5th grade to 8th.
Anyone who tells you otherwise simply has not been around today's specialized and thus extremely competitive youth basketball universe.
JuniorHoops.com | Jose Morales
Bruce Branch III is an up and coming basketball player that is performing at a high level both on and off the court. He recently turned 9 years-old and stands 5' feet tall and plays for the AZ Run-N-Gun club basketball team. As a triple sport athlete, he plays baseball as a 1st baseman and also as a football wide receiver. But his athletic ability is only half of it. He is also a high academic achiever and has already set his goal to become an engineer. Currently attending Chandler Traditional Academy, he is an honor roll student in the dual language program at this charter school and can speak, read and write in Spanish. On the basketball court, Bruce plays way beyond his years. With a well-balanced game, he can shoot, drive the lane and plays hard-nose defense. He also has a knack for passing the ball which makes him excellent team oriented player. Bruce is not sure which Jr. High school he will be attending and for high schools he might be attending either Hamilton or Chandler High. Whichever school he attends, that school will be inheriting a basketball player that will an amazing pick-up both on the court as well as in the class room.
JuniorHoops.com | Jose Morales