Should the US rethink how to develop young athletes?

Anyone else really fascinated by how Europeans develop their young athletes vs American players? Europeans give talented young athletes the opportunity to focus on their particular sport and even go pro at an early age before 18. While US doesn’t let you go pro until 18 and NBA now makes player play at least 1 year in college where your time is split between school and development in sports before declaring for the NBA. A lot of sports development is done in the NCAA for sports before pro.

This study shows the value of multiple sports participation vs single for American NCAA athletes. I am a big believer in playing multiple sports, until probably at least 13-16 where you can tell if you got it in one particular sport. And I still agree with injury risks since throwing the baseball year round is for sure bad for you arm and such along with burn out.

But seeing how skilled Europeans are in basketball vs Americans recently. (US players are still imo more athletic overall) The skill and passing, the team play, the shooting in basketball is unreal. And with the World Cup results from men vs women for the US, I have to see it as more damning evidence of focusing in an early age.

Since the boys in Europe have significantly more opportunity with the revenue men’s sports generates to get scouted and play in academies and go pro for a team vs the girls. I think it’s why the US men’s team struggle and the women’s do not.

Not really following here. The women have been dominant and soccer is way down the list of popularity for men, and by popularity I mean the sports the best athletes are interested in playing.

The boys in Europe have way more opportunities like going to academies and having pro teams work with them and even turn pro for a professional team. Since there is less money in women’s sports, and no major women’s pro league. Girls do not enjoy this and basically go through much less sports specific development like girls in the US.

Therefore, I believe this is why the US women’s team dominates while the men struggle against players who probably turned pro before 18 to focus on soccer.

Oh I see, I misunderstood.

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I’ve seen that more US players are going the route of playing pro for teams overseas than attending uni lately? I wonder if the NCAA model will change for basketball. I know there’s often talk about it.

I think someone this year from HS signed a contract in Australia instead of playing NCAA. The NBA is also trying to do something where top prospects can play in G league for a year but I think the G league can be a negative experience for young players who are suddenly playing against grown man in a none team minded environment. Since the G league isn’t about winning and players all are playing in their own interests.

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They have a proposal to lower the draft age to 18 and it’s likely that kids who haven’t gone to college will (again) be drafted by 2022.

I’m not following the initial question about Europeans vs Americans in terms of single vs multi-sport participation. Allowing players to be professionals at an earlier age (which happens in many sports in the US outside of the revenue generating team sports like basketball and football anyway) would result in earlier specialization than what we think of as the American model.

Besides, a lot of factors are in play here. I dispute that Europeans are that much more skilled than Americans recently. We are seeing some uniquely talented Europeans in the league but these are the best 1% (I’m inventing the number) of of players from pro leagues in Europe. Have the five best guys in the NBA go over to any league in the world and people would be talking about how the Americans are so damn skilled. Besides, the emphasis on passing and shooting comes from players coming up in a team system as opposed to playing on playgrounds - something that is changing with the AAU season now essentially being year round in the US.

For women in soccer…I think the lack of opportunities for European women are part of the equation but don’t discount the fact that in the US, girls are the third generation benefiting from Title IX funding and the fact that a far, far, far larger number of the best female athletes in the US end up playing soccer than in men.


That is a great point. I didn’t think of that.

Have you seen many euro league games? I personally find them at least on par with “skills” and better in overall passing and team play. 1-5 can all pass. It’s also becoming like that in the US however.

Americans are the most skilled if you take the NBA and most of NCAA vs anywhere else. There is no doubt about it. But imo, there is still a strong dependence on athleticism . This is just my personal opinion from observations. I welcome any differences in opinions on this.


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The power of disbelief is amazing.

Take it easy on me haha. I can barely use my hands right now in the hospital.

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See if you can a nurse to give you a hand massage or something. Get well soon man

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Some but not enough to probably comment in detail. My general observations are fairly in line with yours.

The US has a large population and nearly every young boy and most young girls play the game in a system that rewards those who succeed and eliminates those who aren’t good enough. This is the same thing that happens in Brazil for soccer or China for ping pong or Canada for hockey.

For skill development…I think it’s easy to discount how damn skilled NBA players are because it’s easy to be blinded by their athleticism. I’ve heard people say that the WNBA is ‘more skilled’ because they rely on passing and designed players more than the NBA (not true) though I believe it’s simply because the latter is the same game but speeded up to a blinding degree.

Perhaps though this is the same as if we go back 30 years and take the stereotypical white NBA player who is growing up in the heartland, doing drills in the summer, compared to the stereotypical black NBA player who grew up in an large city and spent his free time playing against others. Now both players are found and funneled through the AAU system but would Europe be more like the white kid shooting against the barn? What do kids do before they are in the Euro League?