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March 29, 2016

How to Raise a Superstar

How to Raise a Superstar

Parents, players and basketball fans,

Times have changed in the youth basketball world. This email will help you navigate and explain how you can best set up your child for success on and off the court.

Years ago kids had only one option – CYO, the school team, a local team put together by a dad, or maybe a rec team at the Y. Today kids are being put in situations where they’re asked to try-out, or told they’re trying out for an “elite” team along with a close friend who may get cut or make it over them. This process of elevating and demoting kids is now starting as young as eight years old, and in no way is healthy for the well-being of kids who play to have fun, be with their friends and to learn (Read: Sports Should Be Child’s Play – NY Times).

High price tags are often associated with AAU or “elite” teams that schedule several more tournaments than practices. This approach is baffling to our staff and network of accomplished friends, most of whom played college and pro ball. We did not play at an advanced level in basketball until grade 8.

Making things more complicated is a combination of the fear of missing out, and the temptation to accelerate your child’s success by any means necessary. Parents and kids are tricked into thinking by gaming up – by playing more games than practicing – or by playing against tougher competition, or with tougher competition is the secret to success. At the right place and time, it is beneficial. But too much, too soon, and it’s going to hurt players more than support their development.


There’s plenty of data that supports the success of a skill-based system, and the critical value of practicing on one’s own through deliberate practice (Read “How to Raise a Superstar” here.) Putting your kid with alleged better competition as a priority often puts your kid in a spot where he or she is deferring to players who do all the work. There are also kids who cannot go out and shoot in a driveway without a personal trainer. Always having the tutor or coach there is going to make it tough on game day when they can’t be on the floor with you.


It’s teaching a child or young adult that consistent, smart, deliberate, and disciplined work and high-IQ learning (not just running around out there) leads to a more satisfied player on and off the court regardless of talent level or end game.


Just like any strong academic institution, you should expect an experience to be grounded with a consistent, player-development based curriculum. Coaching games with a few dominant players is much easier than running a full practice and structuring a weekly and seasonal curriculum designed to develop all players, not just the strongest ones.

If students in school were spending more time on tests and quizzes than on disciplined classroom preparation and study habits, we know what the results would look like. We also know what would happen to test-centered schools and teachers who were riding on the scores of the top students only.

Players should also feel free to play another sport as a priority in the off-season. Major gains can be made if a player only wants to focus on shooting or ball-handling while playing baseball in spring.


We are set to open up spring and summer gyms with training, discipline and self-regulation as our priorities in the off-season or re-building period. We are documenting hours of reps, skill work, mobility, rest, recovery and game play, which is consistent with USA Basketball’s model for youth development.


We are also building the frame of a next-level merged uptown program for ages 13&U-16&U this spring; however, players can only be part of it if they meet the training and academic requirements. AAU and similar events do have their purpose when it comes to the need for college coaches to recruit players who can play at the next level.

Note that we are not expecting all kids to play or want to play college or pro ball. Several of our players want to be good high school players who make academics their priority.

The expectations are placed on our staff. It’s our job to give our best advice and honest input on what formula and approach best increases your child’s chance of experiencing consistent improvement given the time, sacrifices and money invested.

If we (a staff of former college and pro players) feel that we cannot serve your child or he or she should be in a better spot, we will let you know and make calls to get your child where he or she needs to be. (And we have parents and players who will state that we’ve done this for them in the past.)

Read this Sports Illustrated story about Makai Mason, a star sophomore guard for Yale: “Dan Mason, Makai’s father, made the daring and unorthodox decision to withhold his son from playing AAU after the summer of his freshman year…What Makai Mason lacked in attention from the AAU circuit he gained in fundamentals and athleticism.”

Mason drilled and trained for hours on end instead of traveling to events and sitting around in gyms wasting training time while waiting for his next game. Read the entire story here.

Some quick math: In one-hour of a game, players can get from 0 to 20 attempts at shooting the ball. In a 90-minute to two-hour practice, players in a well-run gym can get 250-500 reps or 1,000 touches of the basketball.

Listen to our podcast with Katie Smith, the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer, and read our most recent spotlight on Motion alum (first class) David Goldman, who is being recruited by high-academic Division III schools.

You’ll see how they’ve cited preparation, discipline and self-regulation as the factors that elevated their level of play.


See the links below.

In closing, we want to extend to you the acknowledgement that being a parent is not easy. We recognize the pressure you feel to do the best to serve your child. We hope that this email helps give clarity to the issues at hand so that you can best direct your child until he or she gains enough clarity to narrow down his or her areas of focus and say, “This is what I want and this is how I’m going to get there.”

Thank you for your time and support.

Earn it.

Maureen Holohan
Former High-School All-American, All-Big Ten Player & Pro
Founder & Director

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Sign up for our weeknight Boosts with scrimmage time on the upper east/west. We are adding more 1-on-1, 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 contests to the Boosts. There’s also our once-per-weekend workouts around spring sports option, or the all-inclusive training/team play optional four days per week of training with games added in May-early June. Summer camps start in early June-August. We also offer private lessons and birthday parties in our extra gym space.

Click on our enroll page to see all of our offerings.

Here are some Mo’ Motion promo codes (they expire April 1):

BOOST $50 off PROMO – spb_100

TEAM PLAYERS PROMO – only $50 to add on weeknight Boost – spt_100

Grades K-3 Promo – sk3_50

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