To say Jeff Smith loves working with young basketball players would be an understatement. Just ask the 40 or so kids who attended his summer basketball camp last week.
The dean of basketball coaches in St. Clair County has held camp for area boys and girls just about every year he has been at Springville with the exception of a couple.
“There were a couple of years we didn’t have the camp, and a lot of folks talked about us starting it back up, so here we are,” Smith said.
Smith noted that if a kid has any chance of learning how to play the sport of basketball, then camps are very important.
“It’s important because we are teaching fundamentals,” Smith said. “So many kids are not taught fundamentals, and so many are worried about just shooting the ball. They don’t care if they know how to shoot, or they don’t practice it. Little kids will jump back behind the three-point line and try to throw it up there instead of shooting underneath. But that’s something that has been going on quite a while now.”
Smith said the camp is just a lot of fun. He said the kids have so much energy.
“They will come out and practice, or do some of the little drills we have taught them on their own before we get started,” he said. “And that’s encouraging. They will practice some of the ball-handling drills we have taught them. It is always so neat to watch and observe.”
In the course of a three-hour session with Smith, little players will start off with dribbling a basketball, and just ball-handling in general. Both hands, left hand, right hand. They move on to what Smith called a good stance, triple threat, how to pivot off both feet, how to shot fake, dribbling stationary, dribbling full court, jump stop, crossover change direction dribbling, and how to protect the basketball. Smith then teaches shooting techniques to the little campers.
“The correct form of shooting,” Smith said. “Follow through, stance…again, do a lot of passing using both hands, chest passes to push passes to bounce passes to wrap around or hook passes. Then shooting lay-ups left-handed and right-handed. There is just so much. And these kids are doing so well. Some people think little kids can’t do these things, and they are wrong. They can. They get taught, and they do it.”
Smith also incorporates games in the sessions. Dribbling games, and their favorite was the knock out.
“One kid is dribbling and another kid is dribbling, and they are both trying to knock the basketball out of the hand of the other while dribbling,” Smith said. “You get about 15 kids in an area trying to do that, it is pretty fun to watch. The kids love that game.”
Each boy and girl who participated in the camp received a T-shirt.