Players improve skills with summer basketball
About 10 players from second grade to sixth grade met at Lauzier Park the evening of Aug. 8 to hone their basketball skills with the summer skills league, run by Mike Thorson and non-profit group Little Lady Jacks AAU Basketball.
The group has been meeting Thursday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m. and Saturday mornings since late July. The last scheduled practice is on Saturday, Aug. 17. Last Thursday’s practice had the lowest turnout. Most practices average about 20 players, according to Thorson.
“Saturday morning is kind of funny because there is a lot of sleepy kids,” Thorson said.
Thorson, coach of the Little Lady Jacks, organized the skills league earlier in the summer. The idea came together when he and a partner in the non-profit were discussing having a summer league. With the summer approaching quickly, the project was delayed, and Thorson decided to get some kids together on his own for some summer hoops.
“For me it was just all about getting kids out and playing,” Thorson said.
Other than the summer skills league, the Little Lady Jacks team plays in the Moses Lake AAU league in the fall. After that is finished, the team continues to play in tournaments, about one a month through March, said Thorson.
This summer is the first time the skills league has come together. Players practice shooting, dribbling and passing in a game-like setting. At the start of practice on Aug. 8, Thorson showed players how to use their pivot foot to avoid a travelling violation. He also emphasized not using two hands to dribble, which is known as a double-dribble violation.
After going over some basic rules and skills, Thorson divides the kids into teams, usually 3-on-3 or 5-on-5, depending on the number of players present. Thursday night’s practice pitted a 4-on-5 mix of boys and girls. Regardless of uneven numbers, Thorson said he always ensures everyone plays.
Thorson played basketball in high school and has coached basketball, flag football and baseball in the past. Thorson’s two daughters played in the park last Thursday, Penelope, an 11-year-old, and Juniper, an 8-year-old. Basketball gives him a connection with his daughters, said Thorson.
Besides practicing their basketball skills, Thorson wants to develop the intangible skills such as teamwork and competitiveness. He also noted that if the kids stick with basketball, they tend to stay out of trouble.
“I really preach being good teammates and playing team defense, sharing the basketball,” said Thorson. “The one thing we’re never going to do is quit.”
By Miles King, email@example.com