Jeff Benson and Scot Topps joined us on the Upper Hand Sports Podcast to talk about their work at Love Youth Basketball. Love Youth Basketball was formed in 2016 to offer skills clinics and leagues to the youths of the East & West Valley. LYB helps develop young athletes by teaching the fundamentals in monthly clinics – and through the opportunity for athletes to play in a skill-based league, that encourages sportsmanship both on and off the court.
You can read an overview of the interviews with Jeff and Scot or listen to the podcast below for the full interview.
Q: What is the vision and mission behind Love Youth Basketball and how did you get started?
Jeff: In terms of how we got started, basically the area where we are focused at the moment at least… I know for a fact there was very little basketball I think, and even less or none, that helps kids develop, which is what we try to focus on… we focus on youth ages 4 to 12 years old. We do basketball skill development, camps and clinics, and then we also have leagues as well…
Q: Tell us a little about what programs you’re working on at the moment?
Jeff: Our winter league technically just ended… this summer we’re doing a basketball skill development program, where we’re focusing on certain aspects each month we’re focusing on one particular aspect of the game like ball handling, shooting, different things of that nature. And when school starts… we’re going to be back doing our next league.
Q: Tell us a story about one of your proudest moments in your coaching career?
Scot: I think every Saturday of our training is one of my proudest moments – seeing the kids get better… To see these kids get better at ball-handling, dribbling with their heads up, just from week to week. And then just knowing that it takes about 6 or 7 weeks of commitment from both sides to see a difference. That’s one of my proudest moments is seeing the kids that started from day one, that are still with us, it’s literally night and day of where their skills are…
Q: What do you think has been the key to your success?
Jeff: I think people who really get to know us, Scot and I personally, and get to know what we’re really trying to do, they can tell the passion. I mean we don’t do this to be taking checks home every other week or anything like that, we literally do this because we love it and we want to give back. People helped us get to where we got to, to be Collegiate athletes and we want to give back… we really want to see the skill development get back into the game, I think that’s missing a lot…
Scot: And to add to that, I think a big part of our growth is that, the way me and Jeff grew up back east, there weren’t a lot of gyms available to us… And to have a mentality of knowing what these kids could be doing, and knowing what we want them to do, we have a bigger, broader picture than most people. Like he said, it’s not about the money. So since we know what these kids need, the parents understand and trust us a lot more.
Q: Tell us a story about some of the challenges you faced in your coaching/athletic career and how you overcame them, or maybe you still are?
Jeff: Like Scot just mentioned, you know gym facilities, if we had more facilities we could probably do more.Just trying to grow the program and continue to keep people coming back. And I think having people understand exactly what we want to do, and trying to bridge the gap between a parent wanting to just see their kid play and them understanding that, none of these guys, you know even LeBron James, Kobe Bryant are born with physical talent, they had to really work on their game to get to where they are. They didn’t get to that all time great level by rolling out of bed every day and going to shoot for 10 minutes. They put a lot of work into it…
Scot: The way these leagues are set up nowadays a kid has to be pretty good to play and if he’s not here probably sit on the bench. But that way they’re not learning anything. So the purpose of this is so that every kid can play. And I say 50 to 60% of basketball is just not being nervous. And it kind of gets the jitterbugs out of the kids, having this development, and doing this development league, and training them so they can just be acclimated to the basketball court. And a lot of kids don’t get that… So that’s something that we want to give these kids. We want to give everybody opportunity, time to play, whether it’s your first time ever playing on the basketball team or not, or if it’s your 5th time playing on the basketball team, they all play.
Q: How do you think technology is changing the way you work and coach?
Jeff: Using the Upper Hand app helps a lot. Otherwise I’d be using tons of spreadsheets I’m going crazy trying to do everything. So that part helps in terms of communicating, being able to track everything and then look at that. In terms of technology, Scot and I are kind of old school. There’s a lot of things that people like to see these bells and whistles, and you know you can do the same thing with like a chair jump rope and some dumbbells…
Learn more about Love Youth Basketball at www.loveyouthbasketball.com. Subscribe to the Upper Hand Blog for latest podcast episodes and other news!