Many parents put their kid into a basketball situation without truly knowing what to expect. They know they want their kid to have success but do not necessarily know what he/she will need in order to achieve that success.

In my opinion, ‘REC BALL’ is a wonderful starting point for players that are just being introduced to the game. The competition is not very tough, there are rules to ensure that everyone gets a fair opportunity. The rules may not be as strictly enforced which allows the players to have fun and started to love the game. HOWEVER, once a player decides that they want to start taking the game more serious and they want to really start to compete, they must get out of that environment and move on to something more aggressive.

TRAVEL BALL (Developmental vs Exposure)
Many parents assume that all travel ball situations are the same but nothing could be further from the truth. There is a huge difference between situations that are geared to develop the players VS expose the players.

Players that have recently moved on from REC BALL typically need a team that will help them develop their overall understanding of the game, along with their skillset. They will get the opportunity to start competing with players on a higher level and be faced with a simple choice, work harder to keep up and surpass these players or get discouraged and fall further behind (sink or swim).

Players that have a really strong skillset, understanding of the game, and a strong love for the game may be ready for a team which will focus on exposure. Typically, if you’re ready for that level of competition, the team/coaches find YOU, YOU don’t find the coaches. These teams may not practice as much as a team but the individual players on the team are certainly spending a lot of time in the gym developing their game. The goal of these teams are to help the players get more exposure which means, they may travel further, play in bigger tournaments and play against better competition. These teams are NOT DESIGNED TO DEVELOP THE PLAYERS! They are designed to go out and compete with other high level competition and help you evaluate where you stand versus higher level competition.

In a perfect world, every team would offer exposure and development. SADLY, it is not the case. In my opinion, both exposure and development are vital to help a player reach their potential but you must know which is necessary at this particular stage of their development.

A player that is not extremely skilled and does not understand the game very well does not need exposure.
A player that is highly skilled and has a strong understanding of the game does need exposure. Not only does he/she need other players and coaches to see their talent but they also need to see their opponents talent which may force them to get back in the lab and work on some things.

I’ve had many conversations with parents frustrated that their program is not developing their kids, little did they know that their program was not designed and is not focused on developing kids. They are probably doing a great job of exposing that player but he/she may not be at that stage yet.

In conclusion, parents need to evaluate or have someone evaluate their child so they know what stage he/she is at. Once that has been determined, make sure you are entering into a situation which addresses your players specific needs based on the stage they are at.