3 Reasons Playing MORE Games Can Hurt a Player's Development

The low barriers to entry in youth basketball has led to exponential growth in mom and pop and local basketball teams over the past 10 years. With so many options it is hard for many players and parents to pass up on the opportunity to play MORE GAMES. But is MORE GAMES what your athlete needs? I would argue NOT. The game is always about developing and attacking your weaknesses (see Kobe article), but I would argue even more importantly at the ages of 6 - 14 before they enter high school. 

Having worked with hundreds of kids myself and thousands as a program, I’ve been able to see the damaging effects of the “PLAY MORE GAMES” philosophy. When thinking about the end goal in mind, we all want our kids to be the best player they can be and to maximize their growth before they enter high school. Here are THREE reasons why playing for multiple teams in the same season HURTS the development of your player and doesn’t help them achieve that goal.

  1. Opportunity Cost: When you play on more teams, that usually means more practices and more games. These both take a lot of time and for the most part, team workouts are not focused on your player's individual skill deficiencies and weaknesses. This is time that can be used for the development of the athlete with respect to the MIND, BODY and SKILL. Student athletes are busy, with school, homework and extracurricular activities, playing on multiple teams will almost guarantee no bandwidth to focus on developing their skills or working on their bodies to increase performance and decrease risk of injury.
    • Solution: Train more than playing games and you’ll see your kid become a better player in the long run (long run = by the time they hit High School). 
  2. Confusing: The game of basketball has so many styles and coaching philosophies can vary. While getting exposure to a diverse mix of coaching styles and philosophies can be very beneficial, if during the same season it can be VERY confusing for a kid who is still trying to learn the game. To be expected to remember what each coach values and adjust their games and tendencies accordingly is unrealistic and almost impossible. I would urge they focus to learn from ONE program or team’s philosophy for at least a season before going elsewhere to change it up. Ideally, a program has a diverse mix of coaching styles but a consistent philosophy and vision for their athletes (see Academies like Team Esface :)). 
    • Solution: Choose one team to play for per season and get the most out of it, taking advantage of extra workouts as well. Make sure you and your athlete are clear on what the objectives of the team are and what concepts are being taught that season. It's a marathon not a sprint.
  3. Divided Loyalty: Being loyal to a team or program is shown by your commitment to, first and foremost, show up when the team meets, be it for practice or games. When a kid plays on multiple teams, it’s virtually impossible that they’ll be able to attend all the team’s events. Consequently, the kid is put in a very tough position where they feel like they let one of the teams down (both the coach and players who they presumably care about). This dilemma can potentially damage the trust between the players and his teammates and coach, trust being a crucial ingredient for all healthy, lasting relationships. It’s hard not to feel bad if you’re forced to choose one team over the other every weekend. There are ways to mitigate this conflict, however it is easier to avoid it if you ask me. Again, this is based on playing on two different basketball teams, playing multiple sports in same season is for another article :). 
    • Solution: Focus on being FULLY committed to ONE team/program for a season and supplement the team commitment with extra WORKOUTS or OPEN run at a local gym or rec center (or outdoor park..remember those:/). 

#stayhungry #stayesface

-Coach Dele

Tunde Sobomehin walking on to Stanford lays the foundation of Team Esface

Below is an excerpt from an article from scout.com following the athletic banquet at Stanford University following the 2002-2003 season when Stanford University went 29-9 (14-4 Pac-10) and following year making it to the second round of the Tournament. 

What parents should know about strength training for youth

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Enhance your health. Reduce your injury risk. Improve your performance

As strength coaches, we’re often confronted with the question of if resistance training stunts growth, or is harmful to young athletes. This misconception could not be further from the truth. Every human body has a unique physiology and development process. Some youth grow before high school, some grow during high school, some grow after high school (Anthony Davis), if resistance training were to stunt growth many high school programs would not have their athletes in the weight room. We know this is not the case, as most high school programs require weights. Resistance training greatly ENHANCES bone density. A population of 9-10yr old girl improved their bone density by 7% during a 10 month resistance training program. Compared to 1% increase in the same age group participating in regular physical activity. There are many other studies finding similar results. What’s the bottom line? The more dense a bone is, the less likely it is to fracture (i.e Less injury risk).

On a similar note the term resistance training is associated with weight lifting movements. Weightlifting is part of resistance training, but resistance training can be as simple as a bodyweight squat. Our MAD curriculum focuses on FUNCTIONAL and SAFE movements. This entails a large amount of bodyweight or light weight movements, with an emphasis on proper technique, and adequate rest between sets. At MAD we have comprehensive approach to your child's health, focusing on core stability/mobility, balance, proper jumping/sprinting mechanics, fundamental weightlifting variations, and flexibility. When put all together this will greatly decrease the risk of injury and greatly enhance performance!

10 Reason for Resistance Training (in youth and adults)

  1. Stronger Muscles

  2. Stronger Bones

  3. Stronger Tendons

  4. Stronger Ligaments

  5. More Muscle Mass/ Less Fat Mass

  6. Higher Metabolism

  7. Decrease Stress Reduction

  8. Greater Physical Capacity

  9. Increased Self-Confidence



- Murray Athletic Development, powering Team Esface Strength

Enhance Your Health. Reduce Injury Risk. Improve Performance.

Murray Athletic Development (MAD) has partnered with Team Esface to offer high level strength training to transform our athlete's bodies and help them maximize their potential on and off the court. 

Long Term Athletic Development

MAD operates within the framework of the NSCA’s (National Strength and Conditioning Association) long term athletic development (LTAD). What is LTAD? As defined by the NSCA it is the habitual development of athleticism over time improve health and fitness, enhance physical performance, reduce the relative risk of injury, develop the confidence and competence of all youth. Athleticism is the ability to repeatedly perform a wide range of movements with precision and confidence in variety of environments, which require competent levels of motor skills, strength, speed, power, agility, balance, coordination, and endurance.

There are 10 pillars of LTAD which Murray Athletic adheres to:


  1. LTAD pathways should accommodate for the highly individualized and non-linear nature of the growth and development of youth

  2. Youth of all ages, abilities and aspirations should engage in LTAD programs to promote physical fitness and psychosocial well being.

  3. All youth should be encouraged to enhance physical fitness from early childhood, with a primary focus on motor skill and muscular strength development.

  4. LTAD pathways should encourage an early sampling approach for youth that promotes and enhances a broad range of motor skills.

  5. Health and wellbeing of the child should ALWAYS be the central tenet of LTAD.

  6. Youth should participate in physical conditioning that helps reduce the risk of injury to ensure their on-going participation in LTAD programs.

  7. LTAD programs should provide all youth with a range of training modes to enhance both health and skill related components of fitness.

  8. Practitioners working with youth should systematically progress and individualize training programs for successful LTAD.

  9. Practitioners should use relevant monitoring and assessment tools as part of a LTAD strategy.

  10. Qualified professionals and sound pedagogical approaches are fundamental to the success of LTAD programs.


LTAD in action?  Below are examples of players who started strength training in 7th grade while playing on the Class of 2019 elite team under Coach Dele. 

  • John Mills (SOPH starting on Varsity Lacrosse and JV Basketball)

  • James Beckwith (SOPH Varsity Basketball)

  • Kiran Kruse (SOPH Varsity Basketball)

  • Will Beasley (SOPH Varsity Basketball)

  • Parker McDonald (SOPH Varsity Basketball)

Breakdown of a Team Esface Humble Baller

There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. As a baller, our confidence should be humbly rooted in our knowledge of our teammates hard work, our coaches preparation, and our individual dedication to improvement. While arrogance is about ME, confidence is about TEAM.  Being humble does not mean thinking less of yourself, but rather thinking of yourself less. Team Esface ballers are HUMBLE BALLERS. 

Click below to see a complete breakdown of what it means to be  a HUMBLE BALLER.

4 Lessons Basketball Teaches

It would be nice if you could just sit down and tell your child what he or she needs to know about succeeding in life, but realistically, a lot of what you say will go in one ear and out the other. Children need hands-on experience with situations that illustrate why those life lessons are so important.

Exposed to the right experiences, children can better internalize those lessons and apply what they learn. Sports, especially a fun youth basketball league, are excellent avenues for teaching your child what is really important in life.

Collaboration is Key

Collaboration, in sports and in life, is essential. Photo credit: Manson Chan

Collaboration, in sports and in life, is essential. Photo credit: Manson Chan

You hear a lot about how teamwork is an essential life skill that you'll learn in sports like basketball, but perhaps a better term to use would be collaboration. Basketball requires teammates to work together on a pre-planned offense or defense, but also to change strategies and to listen to each other. Winning a game is a collaborative effort in which everyone needs to hear what other players are thinking and then decide which suggestions work best.

Learning how to contribute and to listen to what others are saying -- and learning how different people react to events -- is a skill that your child needs to know to survive in the workplace, in family interactions, and in society in general.

Failure Is Part of Life

Losing hurts, but handling failure well is an important life skill.Photo credit: Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs Office/Flickr.

Losing hurts, but handling failure well is an important life skill.Photo credit: Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs Office/Flickr.

Failure happens. In basketball, it can be small, like a missed shot early in a basketball game, or it can be big, like accidentally blocking a would-be-winning shot from a teammate.

Your child is going to fail at other things in life, too, from relationships to work projects and more. Learning how to handle the moment of failure and its aftermath is an important life lesson. Learning how to analyze what happened so that it does not happen again is another one.

Without this knowledge, those moments of failure could dishearten a child and have more of a devastating emotional effect than is healthy. Holding onto embarrassment, frustration, and anger stemming from past mistakes can sour future attempts to succeed. Having past experience with failure and recovery, though, makes it easier to take on new challenges fearlessly.

Control and Responsibility are Essential
Everyone is prone to mistakes at one time or another. Basketball teaches your child to identify times when he or she chose the wrong action, and it provides practice for overcoming mistakes and learning from them.

It's difficult to admit being wrong, but your child needs to learn to take responsibility (when it's truly his or her fault, of course), and to move forward and make things right. Those who can graciously admit a mistake and make the situation better are going to have an easier time navigating through life both as teens and as adults. Refusing to admit a mistake can make a situation worse and result in strained personal and professional relationships.

Tain't What You Do....
Ella Fitzgerald's song about learning that it "tain't what you do, it's the way that you do it" illustrates another life lesson inherent in basketball: achieving balance. It's important to try your best. But if you constantly strain and struggle to make something happen, you'll only tie yourself and whatever you're attempting to do into knots. Achieving balance, or "being in the zone", gets better results than tensely forcing a situation.

In basketball, players learn to trust themselves and wait for proper openings that will allow them to make their moves. A free throw that's attempted under duress and tension can go wildly off mark, but a free throw that's taken when the player finds that sweet spot of concentration and relaxation has a better chance of sailing through the basket.

If children can get into the flow of the game, they'll find that plays go much more smoothly than if they're stressing out and rushing things needlessly. Players can apply this practical lesson to other areas of their lives, leading to a happier, more balanced life that is proactive instead of reactive.

Sign up your son or daughter for a Team Esface league or camp in the summer time. Not only will your child get exercise, but he or she will also begin to see how each game is a microcosm of real life played out on a court.

See you on the court soon.

Stay Hungry. Stay Esface. 

Coach Dele 


Anti-Softness Testimonial from Parent: Aaron Santillan

Alex Santillan circa 2015 (far right) after an Anti-Softness workout with two of his training partners. This is when they were learning how to have a anti-softness game time face or #kobeface...still working on that one :)

Alex Santillan circa 2015 (far right) after an Anti-Softness workout with two of his training partners. This is when they were learning how to have a anti-softness game time face or #kobeface...still working on that one :)

Aaron Santillan Profile:

  • Team Esface Parent since circa 2011
  • Son: Alexander Santillan (current 14U/8th grader, class of 2021) 
  • Born and raised: Cuautitlan Izcalli, Mexico (outside of Mexico City)
  • Basketball resume: Scholarship player at Menlo College then Pro baller in Mexico
  • Favorite workout: Anti-Softness


As all of us know, every player's basketball journey is different. Around 3rd grade, after a season playing recreational basketball, our son Alexander "informed" my wife and I that he had decided to focus on basketball and do anything in his power to play as high level as possible. Just like most parents do, we looked for different programs in the peninsula only to quickly realize not many would prepare him for high-level basketball, especially because he used to be easily intimidated by physical players.

In 4th grade, he attended his first anti-softness workout at Team Esface with coach Dele. He learned not only that basketball was a physical game but that there was a lot of work to do. He took it to heart, his conviction grew stronger, and his work ethic improved tremendously.

Now in 8th grade, Alexander keeps working on his skills and confidence in preparation for his first HS tryout next year and while there is still work to do on skills and confidence, being intimidated by the physicality of any opponent is no longer a concern thanks to the anti-softness workouts.

Moreover, when things go tough off the court, he always refer to the "grow through it" mentality. A workout instilling that mindset off the court? To me, that alone makes the Anti-softness workout my favorite workout ever!



Anti-Softness: How Jeremiah Testa's toughness got him a full-ride scholarship

Back in 2010, the first Team Esface 6th grade AAU team was formed. They would later become known as the "First Born Sons" aka "The Inaugural Class" or "Team Esface 1's". This was arguably one of the most competitive/winningest groups of ballers assembled on the peninsula. Not only was it complete with every style of player a team needs but even more importantly was the mindset they embodied. They were hungry and willing to put in work. They would eat. stay hungry. and repeat. This led to many local and even a national championship.
Their mindset can best be described by our Mind Body Skill (MBS) core value of the week: Toughness aka "Anti-Softness", Anti-Softness in this context, can be defined, as an individual seeking to be proactive in any given situation, rather than reactive.  Never let your opponent dictiate your position or attitude, etc. Easy way to think of it is being a predator rather than the prey. Are you the lion or the gazelle?


    Today I'm going to talk about one of these players who most epitomized this trait, Jeremiah Testa. He first joined the program as a practice player because he was ineligible to play (based on where he lived). He would come to every practice and give 100%, giving my active roster players fits even though he couldn't play in a game for the entire season.  Eventually, he would join the team and instantly changed the complexion of the team. He was such a hungry, tough player he would ask me if he could stay in a full-court press the entire game..even if we went up 20 and he played most of the game!! It was this mental toughness, coupled with an unparalleled motor that allowed him to be the starting shooting guard for the first Serra High School State championship team (yes including Tom Brady's football team when he was a Padre :). 3 of the starting 5 members of this team were members of the starting 5 (shout out to the other "first borns" John Besse and Lee Jones, Jr).  To become a champion at any level it takes toughness.  But what exactly does this word mean? Check out my favorite Anti-Softness article "Toughness" written by Jay Bilas to better understand how it looks on the basketball floor.


    Now you don't have to be the strongest kid to display toughness but you've got to know how to use your body. Some ways you can display toughness on the defensive end, something you always have control over (unlike your shot always falling), are the following (taken from the "toughness" article above): 

    • Having a sense of urgency to stop the other team from scoring, not just your man.

    • Getting on the floor for a loose ball.

    • Taking a charge.

    • Getting down in a stance and staying there.

    Jeremiah did all of the above. That's why no matter how well he did on offense, his toughness on the defensive end made him such a high impact player that I had a hard time taking him out at any point. All coaches value defense so if you're struggling on offense, you can make a decision TODAY to become a value-add on the defensive end. 

    Become stronger today by signing up for John Murray's basketball specific strength training for all ages at the SportsHouse (Team Esface Cage)


    Now let's talk about having skills that weave in the mental and physical toughness or "Anti-Softness". Team Esface introduced Anti-Softness training circa 2011 when we realized the need for a training style that pushes young players out of their comfort zones for the sake of mental and physical growth (the peninsula ballers became known "soft" and we set out to change that reputation one workout at a time). The older kids get the more physical the game gets, we believe developing a comfortability with this physicality is a crucial part of a young ballers development. Jeremiah Testa was one of the original Anti-Softness graduates, embracing these extra physical workouts since he was a young snotty-nosed kid. Below shows him training Aug 2015 before his senior year at Serra (Fall Preseason Training #attackyourweaknesses). 
    Check out the private training options to develop Anti-Softness in your athlete. 

    Where is Jeremiah Testa now??
    With over a 4.0 cumulative HS GPA, he received a full-ride scholarship to Menlo College to play basketball. As a freshman, he is currently coming off the bench as a high-impact player, one game even knocking down a game winning three pointer!!! Check him out and show some Team Esface love while playing at Menlo College sometime.

    Please be on the look out for the weekly Tuesday MBS Newsletter and feel free to give me feedback on topics you want to hear about by replying to this email. 
    Volume uno and I'm out. 
    Stay Hungry. Stay Esface.

    Coach Dele Sobomehin


    Check out other Jeremiah Testa Highlights and displays of his Anti-Softness: