There is a new trend emerging in youth basketball in Puerto Rico. That trend is seeing players spending more time working on developing their bodies and working with personal trainers versus playing year round. The youth basketball season is year round and players in PR play more basketball from an early age than anywhere in the world. Many of the best players are playing 60-80 games a year and many of them are on concrete.
IPRB spoke to several orthopedic surgeons and sports psychologists who suggested that playing that many games at a young age to lead to injury and players "burning out" in their mid to late teens.
Dr. Joe Carr is a leading sports psychologist who has worked in Puerto Rico and with several NBA teams said, "Kids everywhere are playing to much and not developing their mind, body and spirit. Most of the kids today really don't know how to play the game because they are being taught by coaches who only care about winning. This is especially true in markets like Puerto Rico where the emphasis has been win at all cost. Coaches are under pressure but Club Presidents to win championships versus teaching kids how to play the game."
With the recent success of travel team basketball in Puerto Rico parents are now seeing that the current system may not be the best place to develop an elite player. Said a parent of a 13U player who recently attended an AAU National Championship last summer," To be honest we were completely unaware how much more competitive the basketball is up in the states. The kids are bigger, stronger and faster. The referees let the kids play and there is more contact which our son had to get used to. Coming back to PR and playing Little Lads seemed like a huge waste of time. We have our son working out with a personal trainer."
Parents and players alike must recognize the importance of developing the players' mind and body. A holistic approach to developing a well rounded player who understands the game is the key to success. The final component is academic enrichment and mastery of the English language. So many players from PR never get a chance to leave the island and secure a scholarship because they never learned English. In some of the poorest parts of Puerto Rico where there is tons of talent, it is frowned upon to learn and speak English. Some of the most at risk kids never get a chance to get out of the "hood".