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By Toby Lockwood | Developing a successful program in the all-important u14 age group. Insights into the amazing run of Central’s U14 teams

October 16, 2016


Toby pictured cutting down the net at one of the the state premiership titles his teams won 


Preface by Janx


There are some great stories going on in SA Basketball at the moment and one of those was the recent rise of the Central Districts Lions boy's program.  Part of the purpose of these blogs is to continue to strengthen the talent and development in South Australia, using the current wave of player development to build a bigger wave.  In this blog Toby Lockwood offers some fantastic insights for Coaches, Coaching Directors, Club Administrators, players and parents alike.  I feel that adopting these ideas will build some fantastic development and talent from the younger age groups.


Success at u14 level is immensely important for future success of clubs in the Australian system and often pre-empts windows of elite talent development in a program.  All of South Australia’s clubs; officials, coaches, players and families, should value the U14 window of development.  This is the only window when true national championships take place for club teams and sets up future success.


Toby has just completed an immensely successful run of coaching U14 Div 1 Boys with Central Districts Lions.  Typically his teams have been the most dominant in the state of South Australia.


What makes this run of success really amazing is that the club (Central Districts Lions) had never in history made an U14 National Championships for boys, had rarely had teams finish above the bottom 3 teams, as well as decades without even making any finals in the age group, and in the few years prior to Toby taking over there were years the club did not even field U12 and U14 Div 1 teams.


In this 4 year window of Toby’s involvement those teams, between 2010/11 to 2014/15, the results were very impressive for the club:

  • An amazing 90% of games were won in regular season games, finals, state championships, Melbourne Classics and National Championships through this 4 year window

  • Success at State Championships: 1 runner up, 3rd place finish and 2 premierships, including in 2014 when the club drew with Sturt for State Champion Boys Club.

  • Qualified for u14 National Championships for all 4 years, the club had never in its history even qualified for 1.

  • 4 top 10 finishes at U14 Nationals, including 2 top 5 finishes.

I was Coaching Director at the club in this window and we were able to recruit, retain and develop talent from u12s but it was Toby’s ability to bring that talent together, in an environment that had been starved of success in decades prior, that opened up this window.  These players were outstanding, with a great work ethic and loved their basketball.  Toby would say they deserve the credit for the successful window, and he would be right, but I do feel that Toby can definitely offer some insights from the inner sanctum into this successful window. 


This level of development has clearly led to a boom window of players making South Australian representative sides in both metro and country areas.   Culture change is difficult in an environment starved of success.  With great people continuing to run the club, and some great talent in the region, I look forward to the amazing success this age group has established for the club continuing on for years to come, a legacy to the culture established with Toby's teams.


I know a lot of junior coaches in SA keep an eye on these blogs to utilise for their own learning, with some great guest bloggers.  I am personally really intrigued