50 All-Stars is a California nonprofit youth basketball organization centralized in Moraga, Walnut Creek, Lafayette, and surrounding areas. We operate year-round and specialize in player development and training utilizing the following categories: Workouts • Team Practices • Private Sessions • Open Gyms • Games • Conditioning • Combines • Clinics • Camps • 4-7 Year Olds • Tryouts

Newsletter #3 - Every Piece of the Puzzle

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April 1st, 2017The Official Newsletter of 50 All-Stars BasketballIssue #3

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THE PIECES TO THE PUZZLE
Hey guys! So this system we're trying to create is almost a completed project. The goal is to have a program where any player - great or otherwise - can enter into and become all they're capable of if they're willing to show up and give it their all. Through all the twists n turns, this puzzle just needs a few pieces to drop in place. Read below to see where we're currently at in our plans, and thanks a bunch for being a part of this amazing ride!
DEREK KOTARBA: PART II

DEREK KOTARBA'S 1-YEAR QUEST: PART II

On November 1st of 2016, 8th grader Derek Kotarba started his quest to transform himself into a High School Varsity player by November 1st of 2017. Our plan was simple: Try to miss as few days of our workouts as possible between now and then. Only when our program takes a rare break would he be allowed to take a break.

To assist him in his journey, I bought him two 12-piece puzzle sets - one of a lion, and one of a tiger. I told him to construct the puzzles, and place them somewhere in his room where he could see them daily. We agreed that he'd bring me one of the puzzle pieces whenever he missed a day for any reason at all.

For the first 4 months, Derek never missed a day. Puzzle completely intact! He also showed up to our 6am morning boot camps in addition to the weeknight workouts and weekend games. He broke every attendance record we ever had in our program, and he was slowly developing the game and skill set to back it up.

Derek, however, missed his first couple of days soon after due to alarm clock mishaps and boy scout obligations, but he's determined to not lose many more puzzle pieces. We all have the opportunity to remain the lions & tigers that originally established our most passionate goals, but we can't allow ourselves to slowly dismantle the beasts within.

I told Derek that I originally designed this plan because I thought I'd get a few months out of him, and that maybe this would enable him to somehow make the freshman team. But NOW he's made even me a believer. I truly believe if he keeps the puzzles I gave him somewhat recognizable by November, that he'll do a lot more than make the Varsity team... He'll begin to truly own his life!

THE AUU SHOWCASE?

THE SHOWCASE: WHAT AAU TEAMS ARE MISSING

Last newsletter, I told you about how we're sending out emails to all 9,000 NCAA coaches in an attempt to get our players recruited. To update you on our progress, we're on day 7 of 25 of sending out emails to coaches. Our highlighted players are an 8th grade girl, a high school boy, and a college freshman attempting to transfer from an NAII to a D2 or D3 school.

The initial responses have been amazing, as the 8th grade girl has received interest from over 30 D1 programs including Stanford, Gonzaga, and Virginia. The transferring college freshman has received several offers from a few D2's and D3's, and just recently heard D1 Boston College was interested in him walking-on.

This is huge for us because AAU teams continue to shy away from the hard work we're putting in on a daily basis with the excuse that they must get their kids seen by coaches around the country in these endless tournaments around the country. We participate in big tournaments only during the 4 official NCAA viewing period per year, and we play a ton of local games. So with this email campaign proving to be so effective, we are proving that the excuse to not work hard is a fallacy.

Anyways, I'll let you guys know in the next newsletter how these emails finished up and what became of each player. Don't believe the hype of AAU, and don't take for granted how hard we're willing to work for our kids. Our players may not currently be the best, but they're working harder (and are now even being looked at by more college coaches) than all the rest!

THE HIGH SCHOOL DILEMMA

THE HIGH SCHOOL DILEMMA

Different kids have various levels of passion for the sport. That's why it took so long for us to create the 7 day/week juggernaut we now have. The players that didn't want to show up so often came once or twice a week. What's more is they would come on different days than the others, leaving the very few kids who were trying to show 5-7 days feeling alone and without support in their quest to become great. Luckily for us, many of these players stuck around to eventually be surrounded by likeminded individuals.

Our high school team is the last group to overcome this particular hurdle. Due to the increased social life, additional homework hours, and the demotivating realization of their NBA dreams dematerializing, it's been very difficult to get all of our high schoolers to show on the same days. We refuse to offer less days, as we know eventually we'll get the players willing/able to put in that kind of effort. What we've asked for, however, is a coordinated effort for these players to either contact each other to show up on the same days or to just show up on whichever days work best for them and work their butts off even if they're all alone.

As frustrating as it is to know that we have a seriously good team if they all showed up on the same days, it's more frustrating to see players miss the opportunity to get better regardless if they have their friends at practice or not. Just like the other grades, we'll eventually make it through this... but for now it's definitely a dilemma for us to solve.

SUMMER CAMP 2017

SUMMER CAMP 2017: OUR LARGEST EVER!

Although we separated our June summer camp into 3 different age groups and sessions, they're each set to be our largest ever. The 13-18 year olds go the first week, followed by the 8-13 year olds, and then the 3-8 year olds the final week. Members are free, while non-members are in for just $150 for the entire week after they use promo code: "DUNK".

Older members may even help out at the camps younger than their segment. Parents may use this aspect to keep their kids out of their hair this summer, or use it so they gain some amazing leadership attributes.

Since the 3-8 year olds only go from 9am-12pm for their week, we'll have 3 different OPEN GYMS for everyone starting immediately afterwards. Elementary (1st-4th) is from 12pm-1pm, Middle School (5th-8th) is from 1pm-2pm, and High School (9th-12th) is from 2pm-3pm. So prepare!

If you're not signed up, sign-up quick as spots are disappearing fast!

4th Grade Focus

4th Grade Focus: LUKE DEVINE

Luke Devine is not just an absolute angel of a human being, he's also a warrior on the court in regard to his extreme focus on the big picture and ability to bring a 100% effort to every single drill. No joke! He has his eyes set on the NBA, and I'm not sure if anything on earth can stop him. Here's this quarter's FOUR QUESTIONS FOR OUR FOURTH GRADE FOCUS:

Q. What is your favorite aspect of basketball?
A. I like the fact you can go as far as you'd like... like to the Hall of Fame.

Q. How much have you improved since joining 50 All-Stars?
A. So much. My dribbling, shooting, quickness... and I've become a smarter player.

Q. What's your biggest potential hurdle in reaching your goals?
A. Coaches not allowing me to play guard because of my size.

Q. What do you do on your own to improve?
A. Free throws, 50 pushups/day, hill runs, and layups.

INCENTIVES

INCENTIVES: EARNING OUR WINGS

There were some (I won't name names) that thought giving players prizes for showing up to workouts wouldn't do the team any good. Well, our ATTENDANCE page has never had so many hits! Our workouts have been PACKED TO THE BRIM with players discussing how many events they've come to and who they're beating and what prize they're set to get next. And, on top of all that, our players are "magically" improving at the sport they love.

The Kotarba brothers are mightily leading the way, already eclipsing the 100 workout mark just 4 months in. They've both earned every gift there was to receive, including the much sought after Dr Dre Beats.

The increased attendance has rejuvenated our entire program, actually. It's even trickled down to our 1st-4th graders who are battling one another over who can learn which play the fastest, or who can figure out a move most effectively. It's amazing to watch. And it's great to know that all our kids needed were a few simple prizes to get their spirits to become as unstoppable as they now are.

THE WRIST ROLLER

THE WRIST ROLLER: OUR LATEST WEAPON

Legend has it that not every Larry Bird legend is true. He's kinda like the Chuck Norris of basketball. But it turns out that one legend that Kevin Durant heard of and followed was absolutely true. A reporter told Bird that Durant used a wrist roller every day growing up because he heard that's what Larry Bird did all the time. Bird said that particular legend just so happens to be true, and then proceeded to tell the story of a high school coach showing his 6th grade class the workout. He said he did it non-stop in hopes it would improve his shot, and I'd say it turned out pretty well for both Bird and Durant.

So, of course, we got a couple of wrist rollers to follow suit. We even told our players to buy or make their own. At least 8 players said they did, and at least 2 say they now do it every day. One player in particular, fourth grader Ian Salmon, showed immediate gains from having stronger forearms guide his once sporadic shot far more accurately than before.

We'll see where this leads us, but it can't hurt to follow such greatness.

ELITE TEAM PRACTICES

ELITE TEAM PRACTICES

Workouts are what we do. We make kids better by skipping the non-essential aspects that most teams are forced to adhere to in order to try to win games, try to make everyone happy, etc.. We work on skill and knowledge of the game, and we rarely focus on plays and trying to beat teams by exploiting things you can only exploit against young teams (ie Pressing).

We found this strategy to be highly effective at getting players massively better in a short time, but it just wasn't inspirational enough. After a while, all our players wanted to do was win. They wanted to experience some glory now, rather than be forced to wait. This is why we created our Elite team. On top of the 5 weekly workouts, we added 2 special days with just the elite kids where we could practice team concepts and strategies. Most of the stuff reminded me EXACTLY of my college days. We now even have time to break down our game film and assign roles for each player.

These practices get no ONE PLAYER better at shooting, dribbling, etc., but they do make our team better. And much more than that, it gives the elite kids a stronger sense of identity. Our kids are now even more motivated to show up to the workouts outside of team practice so that they can have a chance to earn a bigger role in what our team has set out to do.

Definitely a lesson learned for me, and I'm proud to be a part of these teams.

TEAM UPDATES????

TEAM UPDATES: ARE YOU IN THE LOOP?

Be sure you're in the loop. The absolute most essential avenue of keeping track of what we do is through TEXT MESSAGE. Please send a text to phone # 40404 that reads either "follow fiftyhigh", "follow fiftymiddle", or "follow fiftyelem" to keep up with all you need to know regarding all of our team and practice events. Text that same number the phrase "follow fiftyallstars" to keep track of our Elite teams. If you have any trouble, let me know at jon@50allstars.com