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No coaches allowed at new basketball gym in Rigby


RIGBY — A new indoor basketball and baseball gym gives kids throughout eastern Idaho a place to play year-round.

Ryan Hatch, who owns the America Health medical brand, opened Baller Gym at 3937 East 240 North in Rigby off of Yellowstone Highway. The former soccer gym has multiple basketball courts and batting cages for young athletes to practice their skills. Other amenities, like a weightlifting gym, will be added in the future.

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Kids from all over the valley formed their own teams this summer and participated in three-on-three tournaments at the gym as crowds cheered them on. Throughout the season, spectators and players noticed one distinct difference at each game — there were no coaches. They’re not allowed.

Hatch tells that letting the kids play without coaches was a conscious decision on his part and is a defining characteristic of the business model.

“It really builds confidence for these players to go out there and have a good time with their buddies and figure out the game for themselves,” Hatch explains.

Hatch has worked as a coach for many years and he’s noticed many parents love to be involved in their child’s athletic pursuits. Coaches and parents often have high expectations, he says, and sometimes they’re overly aggressive about it and lose sight of the real purpose.

This can cause the student to feel uneasy or fearful of not meeting those expectations rather than enjoying themselves on the court. Hatch says it can stifle the athlete’s performance and create a negative experience for them.

Additionally, Hatch says it can be difficult for kids to find a team because school basketball tryouts are highly competitive. And even if they’re on a team, they may not get all the playing time they would like.

“This makes it so anyone can put together a competitive team. It’s very easy because all you need is three players,” says Hatch.

He welcomes parents getting involved in other settings, including as a coach during practices, but game time at the Baller Gym is intended to be a place that fosters a positive environment, a young athlete’s love of the sport and a lot of playing time.

“We encourage cheering, but not coaching, and absolutely no criticism of officials or athletes. We expect the highest level of sportsmanship from our athletes and spectators,” the gym’s philosophy statement says. “Our focus is on athlete development, and we will strictly uphold these rules.”

baller gym pic
Rett Nelson |

So far, Hatch says the gym’s policy of letting the kids coach themselves during games has had a positive impact and helped them thrive.

Hatch purchased the gym last year as a place for America Health case workers to bring clients struggling with drug addictions or mental health challenges for a healthy activity. Hatch’s involvement in high school athletics made him want to open it up to everyone, not just patients.

Three-on-three competitions are “the purest form of the game,” Hatch says, and the best way to ensure a lot of playing time for each athlete. And the more playing time they get, the more their talent improves, he says.

“There are so many opportunities for contested shots at the hoop. Just a lot of action. So that is always going to be our primary focus,” Hatch says. “We will also have a lot of after-school trainings and we’ll have batting cages open for baseball and softball.”

The summer leagues wrapped up in July but Hatch is looking forward to the new season beginning Oct. 17. Games will be held three to four times a week for four weeks before another league begins.

Those who want to participate can visit the gym’s Facebook or Instagram page. Baller Gym also has a website.

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