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“I really enjoyed the camp,” said Emerick, who is the USA’s most-capped back ever. “I really enjoyed working with the young kids. Speaking as someone who took the game up in college, it’s great to see. You see some kids with tremendous athletic ability and some kids who are playing because they have the opportunity to play; both types of players are really important.”
But Emerick says the basics aren’t always ingrained in these young players.
“You see players who have been playing the game for two or three years, but still it seems they haven’t learned the basics. When I started playing I didn’t learn the basics early. I’ve been under some criticism for my distribution skills, and I think for a long time it was because I wasn’t confident in my passing. My first two or three years I just ran. It took me a good few years to be shown how to pass properly, and to start developing that skill.
“For players now, I see still a lot of bad habits, and if you are continually practicing bad habits, that’s what you will do.
“As American athletes we’re used to breaking things down, whether it’s the quarterback’s pass or hitting a baseball or making a jump shot. You break down the mechanics of it and show players how to accomplish things the right way. We worked a lot on that. I told guys that if they try a skill the right way, but it doesn’t work out, that’s just execution. That just means you need to work on it, and repeat it.”
Developing skills, said Emerick, needs to be the focus of coaches of young players. And the players need to repeat those skills constantly.
“How many times does a basketball player work on his jump shot? He continually practices it and adjusts his hand position, elbow, his timing. Then he does it thousands of times. I think we need to do that with passing and catching. Once you practice it that many times, when it comes time to do it under pressure – when you’re in a big game and the defender is right on top of you and you have to catch and pass in a split second, you can do it.”