Mavs coach favors fun over pressure


Arvid Kramer believes his youth basketball program offers young players top-level instruction amid a competitive environment along with the opportunity for players at a variety of skill levels to make some measurable improvements in their game.

But he offers no promises that the Mavs Basketball program he heads will turn the marginally talented into high-profile collegiate prospects, or even get them on the junior varsity team at their local high schools.

And he says that’s not really the point of the program, anyway.

Mavs Basketball, Kramer says, aims to provide area youths the benefits of playing competitive sports without the pressures that these days seem to come with the territory of playing in the ultra-competitive club and talent showcase circuits.

“I have 90 boys,” he said. “If five of those kids get a college scholarship that would be amazing.”

Kramer’s Mavs basketball program offers boys from fourth through eighth grade instruction from a veteran professional basketball player whose career included a brief stint in the NBA with the Denver Nuggets. Kramer spent most of his professional career in Europe, and eventually took a front-office job as general manager of a professional team in Germany.

Fall tryouts for the club will be held on Aug. 23 at the Encinitas Boys & Girls Club.

“Everybody gets to play as long as they play hard,” Kramer said. “That’s all I ask of them.”

Kramer took over the club in 2008 shortly after returning to the United States after spending parts of three decades in Europe. He said he took over the program as way of giving back to kids and contributing to a sport he loves that’s always been part of his life. A few years after its founding, he’s grown the program from about 55-60 players to over 90.

But the program isn’t all about basketball skills.

“I teach them fundamental skills, but I also teach them life skills,” Kramer said.

Kramer said that enjoying the benefits of being a teammate, along with the responsibilities, offers skills that will be valuable to his players in all of their future endeavors.

He said that learning to associate and develop relationships with teammates help them learn how to develop other relationships.

He believes that emphasizing life lessons should be a part of all youth sports programs.

“The things that I learned in basketball, they are important in life,” he said. They are important in business.

“Those are skills that should be automatically taught in sports,” he said. “That’s just part of what I do.”

He said making the instruction fun is an integral part of the program.

His practices emphasize getting kids to react to situations they’ll face in games — not just dribble-control drills. Kramer runs 2-on-1 and 3-and-2 drills that encourage ball movement.

“I try to let the kids play,” he said. “I think you’ll find that the kids learn faster (that way) and I think you’ll find that they have more fun doing it that way too.”

Mavs Basketball fields teams that play in leagues at Alliant University. They occasionally travel to tournaments in Orange County, but don’t compete in the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) club tournaments.

Kramer said his teams play at a level that’s between recreational league and the AAU circuit.

“It’s pretty much for local kids and I don’t cut kids, just give them a good experience with sports,” Kramer said.

The Mavs basketball club is hosting its fall season tryouts on Aug. 23 at the Encinitas Boys & Girls Club. The fall season runs September through mid-December. Grades 3 through 8 are involved. Tryouts are free. For registration, times and more information, visit