Defense Tips

Basketball for Coaches, shares that though “crossovers and dunks make spectators stand up from their seats and cheer and get players excited.  It’s defense that will have a bigger impact on the amount of success you have individually and as a team.”

So here are some of the 47 defender tips that they encourage you to work on:

  • Focus on Forcing Tough Shots
  • Commit to Becoming a Great Defender
  • Always Defend the Opposition’s Best Player
  • Prepare Physically and Mentally to Play Great Defense
  • Always Give Multiple Efforts
  • Learn How to Close Out Correctly
  • Watch Your Opponent’s Chest or Waist
  • Stay Lower Than Your Opponent at All Times
  • Know Your Opponent
  • Be a Student of the Game

“Since few players put a focus on defense, doing so is one of the best opportunities a player has of separating themselves from the crowd and advancing from a mediocre player to a great player.”


For details:  47 Basketball Defense Tips (Become a Great Defender)

For more information about the Basketball Camp at Purchase college, visit our program page which includes session dates, weekly itineraries, and enrollment information.

Image Credit:  Future Stars Camps


An interview with Future Stars’ Basketball Camp Director, John McArthur

Future Stars’ Basketball Camp at Purchase College runs from June 17 through August 23rd and is for kids aged 6 to 16. Camp includes a full day of activity with breaks for lunch, swimming and a snack.

We are delighted to introduce John McArthur, our new Basketball Camp Director at Purchase. John is a former NCAA basketball player and has worked as an athletic trainer and educator for children for more than twenty years. John founded Total Force Athletics (TFA) in 2011, a  premier athletic training program in the Westchester area for children of all skill levels in grades K-12. John has also run TFA clinics in London and Puerto Rico.

We spoke with John about his background in basketball and got a better understanding of his teaching philosophy and approach.

The Early Years


John’s love for basketball started in 5th grade. He was extremely inspired by personal mentors in his church community who guided him throughout his adolescence. Says John, “I knew that I wanted to give back by teaching, coaching and mentoring. It’s a wonderful honor to join Future Stars as Basketball Director at SUNY Purchase. As an alumnus of SUNY Purchase, I feel blessed to be a part of a summer camp at home.”

John grew up in Orlando, Florida where he didn’t have the opportunity to attend camp as a small child.  

“Camp wasn’t popular growing up in the inner city of Orlando, FL,” he explains. “I spent most of my time in church as a musician and at our local community center. We played amongst ourselves and many times our local community center organized clinics and small basketball workshops.”

“My first basketball camp experience was amazing. I was 11 years old and had just learned how to play. At the end of the summer, I was voted ‘Most Improved Player’. Receiving that trophy motivated me to become a better player. After this ‘Aha’ moment, I pretty much played basketball every day for more than five hours and, double that on the weekend!”

John and Future Stars


John was a student at SUNY Purchase when he first heard of Future Stars Camp. After graduating from Purchase in 2008, he founded an athletics team-building organization for kids called Total Force Athletics.

Jordan Snider, the Director of Operations for Future Star, approached John about the opportunity to run the Basketball Camp out of Purchase.

Says John, “I’ve known Jordan for more than five years. I taught both his children swimming and his son Eli also attended one of my TFA basketball clinics. Both Future Stars Camps and Total Force Athletics share common values about teaching, coaching, and developing kids’ self-esteem in maintaining a healthy lifestyle through individual and team sports. I’m happy to have the opportunity to join Future Stars as I get the chance to instill the values within both our programs.”

We asked John about his goal for his basketball campers and what he hopes to ignite in them.

John’s goals for his campers are for them to “believe, dream and succeed.”   

“Overall, I want every camper to have an incredible experience at camp, regardless of their skill level,” John explains. “I hope to instill the values of team leadership, strong positive character, and develop each camper into the best athletes they can be, on and off the court. My one wish for the campers is that I would love to take them to a professional basketball game!   

Like all great educators, John has a favorite quote that guides his teaching philosophy.

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” John Wooden

Says John, “I still compete in Adult Pro-Am leagues today in NYC in addition to other corporate adult basketball leagues. I strongly believe in practicing what you preach and setting the example for our youth today.  Overcoming adversity, believing that you can get better with hard work, persistence and play, creates the ultimate team player and student athlete!”


For more information about Basketball Camp at Purchase college, visit our program page which includes session dates, weekly itineraries, and enrollment information.

Image Credit:  John McArthur



Looking for a Basketball?

School is almost over and summer offers opportunities to play basketball inside and outside.  Whether you are lofting balls at home, in the park, or at more serious practice sessions, the ball you use plays an important role.  Basketball Phantom shares a complete guide for basketballs.  Here are some things that you should think about:

What are the types of balls:

  1. leather balls are expensive and best for indoor use
  2. synthetic composite balls can be used indoor and outdoors and are more affordable
  3. rubber balls are affordable and durable, and can be used on asphalt

What else should you consider when buying a ball?

  1.  Size
  • 7 inch-mini for younger players or older new players
  • size 5 basketball can be used by ages 9 and below, measures 27.5 inches
  • size 6 ball are often used by women’s leagues and youth leagues for players ages 9 to 12, measures 28.5 inches.
  • size 7 basketball are often used by adult men’s leagues and those aged 13 and up, measures 29.5 inches

2.  Color – you will most likely use the standard slightly burnt orange color for league games but there are other colors available like blue, black, multi-color, etc.

3.  Training Balls

  • training basketballs are usually rubber but weigh twice as much as the average ball, balls are heavier to help develop form and strength for shooting, passing, dribbling, and other ball-handling skills
  • shooter balls have marks on them to show you where to place your hands
  • smart balls are digitally connected basketballs that can track your stats which include makes and misses, shooting percentage, etc.

Knowing how you want to play basketball will help you identify the ball that best suits your current need.


For details:  The Complete Guide to Basketballs

For more information about the Basketball Camp at Purchase college, visit our program page which includes session dates, weekly itineraries, and enrollment information.

Image Credit:  Future Stars Camps


Improve Your Rock Climbing

Jonathan Siegrist, shared in Climbing that the best way to improve your climbing is just to climb.  Jonathan is 32 and has been climbing for 13 years.  More recently, he notes that there is a lot of interest in training and climbers almost always ask him for training tips.  Jonathan has a very simple response, “Go climbing often, try hard, and take the long view.”

The reality is that there no short-cut, it takes years to become top grade. “Climbing hard requires strength, but of equal importance is skill.”  Here are some of the skills that you need that only years of practice can develop:

  • careful footwork
  • efficient movement
  • proper cadence

Strength is important, but it takes patience and the mental ability to process failure as well.  Here are some things  to work on:

  • climb often
  • work hard and challenge yourself
  • inter-change climbing disciplines to learn new techniques (trad, sport, bouldering)
  • experiment with different rock types
  • find a project that excites you and is challenging

Sport climbing will be making its Olympic debut in Tokyo 2020.  Enjoy and be safe.


For details:  Jonathan Siegrist: Climb to Train—How to Improve by Simply Climbing

For more information about the Adventure Camp at Purchase college, visit our program page which includes session dates, weekly itineraries, and enrollment information.

Image Credit:  Future Stars Camps


An interview with Future Stars’ Adventure Camp Director, Jamie Tranchida

It’s nearly time for another fun summer at Future Stars with our popular Adventure Camp at Purchase College. The camp runs weekly from July 8th to August 2nd and is for boys and girls in grades 5 through 10. We’re pleased to have seasoned Camp Director, Jamie Tranchida running the program again in 2019.

Jamie has degrees in Physical Education and Fitness Development from SUNY Cortland. He subsequently earned his Masters Degree in Curriculum Development from The University of Western Connecticut.

The early years

We spoke with Jamie to get an understanding of what motivated him to become an Adventure Camp Director at Future Stars including how his role as a physical fitness educator came to be.

Jamie grew up in North Salem, New York with three brothers. Says Jamie, “Every chance we got, we would run out the door for adventures around the neighborhood, either on bikes or on foot. We would be gone for hours, wandering in the woods, playing in streams, riding our bikes, or visiting our neighborhood friends.”

Jamie recalls, how his mother would walk onto the porch to ring “the bell”, which meant he and his brothers needed to get home ASAP for dinner. “If we were out of rings reach,” Jamie explained, “she would start calling the neighbors until she eventually found us. It was an amazing time of my life and where the “adventures” all began.”

Jamie explains, that he was less-than-enthusiastic about his first camp experience as a child. Says Jamie, “I first attended camp as a rising third grader. It was a month long sleepaway camp and I was quite reluctant to get out of the car on day one. I was used to my small town and the friends that I had known since kindergarten, so it was a very big step.”

Luckily, it didn’t take Jamie long to adjust and he soon loved the camp experience.
“I can honestly say that I did not enjoy my first few hours very much,” says Jamie. “After some time, I made a few friends and got lost in the fun and adventure. I quickly took to the activities that involved team building, responsible risks, and being in nature. At that point, I had not been exposed to learning through experiences by a teacher or counselor, so it was fun for me.”

Jamie’s early camp experiences often inform how he works with the children in the Adventure Camp program. “I try to remember my camp experience when engaging the campers on their first day,” says Jamie. “I start with a team-building activity focused on the concept, Challenge by Choice.”

All campers are encouraged to take challenges they are comfortable with. It’s fun to watch them progress to things they never thought they were capable of. This year, Adventure campers will surf, kayak, sail, hike, climb, tackle ninja warrior elements, and complete high ropes courses full of zip-lines and balance obstacles. All the while, they will push themselves, develop trust in others and grow as individuals.”

“My hope is for campers to have a moment during the week where they surprise themselves with something they enjoyed or accomplished. I often prompt campers at the conclusion of each day to reflect and find that they are able to better understand what they’ve learned when asked to put it into words.”

Present-day Jamie

As an adult, Jamie’s natural curiosity led him to seek out new places, people, and adventures around the country and world, sometimes accompanied by a brother, friend or his wife.

“As a PE teacher, my schedule has allowed me time for these travels,” Jamie says, “I am now a father of two little girls, with another on the way, so for the time being my adventures are local and shorter, but just as amazing.”



Jamie went on to explain how he connected with Future Stars as a camp Director.  “When I had the opportunity to take a summer job as the Adventure Camp Director at Future Stars, I jumped at it. Future Stars gave me the chance to not only enjoy all of the adventurous activities our area has to offer, but offered the rare and amazing opportunity to share my passion for seeking new experiences through activity.”

We asked Jamie what he likes most about directing the Adventure Camp program.

Jamie replied, “Watching campers step out of their comfort zone, make new friends, acquire new skills and find confidence that, in my opinion, can only be realized through taking responsible risks makes this my dream summer job.”

We also asked Jamie, what brought him to Future Stars Camps, and how he ended up in the Director role for the Adventure Camp program.

“I was lucky enough to be recruited to work at Future Stars camp by Jordan Snider, the Director of Operations for Future Stars and the Director of the Purchase location,” Jamie said. “I taught both of Jordan’s children and that is where my connection was made.”

Several years ago, he asked if I would be interested in working the Football Camp, but I was involved in my own adventures. Then, just three short years ago, he asked, if I knew anyone who would take on the challenge of starting an Adventure Camp. He explained it would be the first year at Purchase and the director could help design the curriculum. My oldest daughter was just under one year old and I knew I was not leaving for the travels that I had grown accustomed to. I accepted the lead role and began excitedly planning.”

Jamie’s philosophy inspires our Adventure Camp program

Jamie has turned the Adventure Camp into something truly unique and special for our campers. His goal has always been for all of his Adventure campers to have new experiences. This includes meeting new people and building relationships based on trust and shared experiences.

“I hope I can inspire my campers to pursue adventurous activities as a means of living an active lifestyle long after their time at Future Stars,” Jamie explains. “As a Physical Education teacher, I have a deep interest in helping individuals find hobbies that keep them active, healthy, and in good balance.”

Leading an active lifestyle is essential to overall health and wellness. Outdoor adventure and leisure activities are great ways to check that box. The activities that we offer at Future Stars can be pursued and enjoyed for a lifetime. The counselors that I hire are certified Physical Education teachers that lead active lifestyles and pursue new experiences in their natural environment.”

Like all good educators, Jamie has a few favorite quotes that he lives by.

“My favorite quotation is difficult to narrow down as all situations call for different words, however, these 5, passed on to me by my parents and other life teachers, can cover most of what life throws at me.”

  • Carpe’ Diem- Seize the day
  • Leave a place better than you find it
  • Treat others the way you want to be treated
  • Work hard – Play hard
  • Live in the moment

Jamie’s collaborative philosophy extends to every aspect of his role as Adventure Camp Director. “Working with teachers and outfitters who have a positive mindset and love new challenges are qualities and attributes that can trickle down to the campers,” Jamie explains.

“This helps them engage with a positive and willing attitude. Camper experience is impacted by our behaviors and company, so it’s important to make sure to work with like-minded individuals who put our campers needs first. A great day is when our campers are smiling and learning.”



For more information about the Adventure Camp at Purchase college, visit our program page which includes session dates, weekly itineraries, and enrollment information.

Image Credit:  Jamie Tranchida



Strong Breath Hold is Vital for Surfers

Suddenly, while surfing you are caught in a bigger wave than you had expected, you know you need to count on your breath hold to carry you through.  Learning to improve lung capacity is something that you can train yourself to do.  Keeping muscles ultra relaxed and quiet so that they don’t waste oxygen is key.  It is best to start working on breathing exercises on land before you test your abilities in the water.  Surfer Today, shares a breath hold exercise to work on:

  • Start breathing slowly for 60 seconds
  • Take a deep breath in, then exhale everything
  • Take a really deep breath in, and hold your breath
  • Relax
  • When you reach your limit, inhale deeply and recover

Practice regularly a few times daily, and as the weeks go by your breath hold should improve.  Keep these things in mind as you work on your breath hold:

  • relax the muscles
  • relax the mind
  • relax the breath

As you go through the training program, remember to keep pace with your personal comfort level.


For more information: How to improve your breath hold for surfing

For more information about the variety of Adventure programs at Future Stars Camps, or to enroll, visit our Adventure Camp page today.

Image Credit:  Future Stars Camps


Need Ideas for STEM/STEAM Activities?

STEAM Powered Family shares a thorough guide to STEM/STEAM activities that will help encourage children’s interest in inquiry based learning through hands on discovery and meeting children at their ability level.  The guide shares:

  • basic explaination of what STEM and STEAM are and their relevance to education
  • shares inquiry based teaching strategies
  • guide to adapting STEM activities to varying abilities
  • introduction to STEM/STEAM kits
  • listing of STEM/STEAM books
  • lots of STEM/STEAM activities

STEM and STEAM activities meet children at their level and introduce them to a love of learning as they explore and discover at their own pace.  “If an education produces a person who has lost their passion for learning, lost their curiosity, and removed their motivation to continue learning and growing, then it has failed. Education needs to support children in their learning journey, where ever that journey takes them in life. It should inspire and foster their passions to create successful, life-long learners.”


For more information:  Ultimate Guide to STEM Activities – With over 100 activity ideas!

For more information about the variety of STEAM programs at Purchase, or to enroll, visit our STEAM page today.

Image Credit:  Future Stars Camps


An Interview with Program Director and MacInspires Founder, Travis Sluss

From June 17th through August 16th, Future Stars will once again be partnering with MacInspires, a groundbreaking STEAM Education program for kids aged 7-16.

The STEAM Program at SUNY Purchase will be directed by Travis Sluss, a Future Stars alumni and the founder of MacInspires. We spoke with Travis about his history with Future Stars and his approach to STEAM education. His answers are enlightening and thoughtful and will help you understand the STEAM program while getting to know Travis.



Travis Sluss poses with a huge 3D printed gameboy

We picked Travis’s brain about his motivation for creating MacInspires and why he’s chosen to focus on STEAM education. Technology has always been a passion of Travis’s, but he was frustrated with the lack of opportunities for kids to pursue this interest. That’s why he founded MacInspires.

Says Travis, “Throughout my life, technology and STEAM in particular have always been my passion. As a youth, it was a struggle to find places and opportunities to nurture these passions and that was a major motivating factor in driving me to open and create MacInspires.”

Travis’s vision has changed and grown over time, enabling him to watch many aspiring young people achieve a variety of different things along the way. This has been personally inspiring to him.

“As passionate makers at MacInspires, we are always learning and tinkering ourselves, which keeps all of our staff inspired,” Travis explains. “In fact, this year we are lucky enough to have another former camper and Purchase student Josh Arbo, returning to our staff!  (He will be featured here in a few weeks).

Travis’s history with Future Stars

As mentioned above, Travis attended Future Stars’ as a camper in the early 90’s. We were curious to know what he remembered about his experience here, particularly since Future Stars didn’t offer STEM or STEAM programs when he attended camp.

Says Travis, “I remember attending Future Stars as a camper when it was at Manhattanville. Back then, STEM and STEAM camps did not exist, but I remember having a great time with my fellow campers. Future Stars was a place with a lot of fond memories.”

We asked Travis to elaborate on how he reconnected with Future Stars, including how his relationship with STEAM and Future Stars evolved into the collaborative program we offer today.

Travis said, “MacInspires has been working with Future Stars for over four years and each year our community of campers and offerings grow, which we are really proud of.


STEAM Camper with a camper-built Raspberry Pi Retro Arcade

“First and foremost, we want our campers to have fun.  We also want them to learn new knowledge and skills, gaining confidence and growing in the process. We often find that as our campers explore new ideas or learn more about their existing passions, they get inspired and those “aha” moments often inspire us as well, changing our vision of what’s possible.”

The Future Stars’ STEAM experience


Future Stars often attracts legacy campers and former connections who are inspired to work with us to offer an ever-growing catalog of programs. We asked Travis to share any thoughts he had about his experience as a former camper-turned-instructor for the STEAM program.

“Every child at Future Stars has the opportunity to truly be a star,” Travis explains. “At MacInspires, we are honored to be a part of that process. The focus on all different kinds of activities while providing a fun and nurturing environment sets Future Stars apart from other camps in the area.  As mentioned, I have fond memories of the traditional camp experience at Future Stars. It’s awesome to pass that experience on to other campers.”

Future Stars STEAM Education at SUNY Purchase

The STEAM Education program at SUNY Purchase runs from June 17th through August 16th. Camps are broken up into themes and by age group. Topics range from Coding & Game Design to Robotics to Woodshop and Wearable Fashion & Technology (and much more!) You can review details on all STEAM themes as well as a schedule from a typical day (all camps include a recreational swim period, lunch, field play, and daily orientation).

Says Travis, “We want our STEAM campers to get inspired by the projects and passions they explore at camp and the way our instructors excite them about new ideas and learning.” As with most great teachers, Travis has a favorite quote, something he lives by and hopes for all who work at or attend Futures Stars camps.

“Think Different,” says Travis, “STEAM is all about creative problem solving. Thinking Different leads to amazing work that’s able to make positive change in our world.”


For more information about the variety of STEAM programs at Purchase, or to enroll, visit our STEAM page today.

Image Credit:  Travis Sluss


Inspire Girls to Explore STEAM

STEAM Craft Edu shares some interesting thoughts on how to keep girls connected with STEAM.  The current reality is that STEAM is of interest to all youngsters until girls get older.  So what are some ways to keep girls connected and interested:

  • look around for all-girls STEAM programs
  • include coding and programming kits in your repertoire of things to do
  • consider moving away from more traditional methods of teaching and experiment with project based learning methods
  • find ways to incorporate arts into learning
  • pair your child up with a mentor, encourage the mentor to introduce STEAM activities they can do together or even take them to work


For details: Encouraging STEAM Learning in Girls

Check out:  Future Stars S.T.E.A.M Camps

Image Credit:  Future Stars Camps


The Value of Overhand Throwing

Ken Krause of Life in the Fast Pitch Lane shares that the overhand pitch is an under-taught skill.  Ken shares his observation that many throwing motions whether seen in middle school, high school, or even college softball games are questionable.

“The only conclusion I can come to is that it’s not being taught. Throwing may be part of warm-ups, but it apparently isn’t a skill anyone thinks about working on. It’s more of a prelude to the “important stuff,” like fielding or hitting or running the bases.”  Ken feels that not teaching overhand throwing skills is a giant mistane.  He points out the “often-quoted figure that 80% of all errors are throwing errors”. That could be interpreted as improving teaching throwing skills could cut out 80% of errors.

He shares that if every team allocated time to specifically work on learning how to throw harder and work on  improving accuracy, a by-product could be diminishing arm injuries that come with poor throwing practices.  Here are some basics that Ken would like to see happening in throwing practice:

  • Standing sideways to the target with glove arms in front, hands together in front of you.
  • Begin your stride, stepping the front foot so it will land at a 45 degree angle and separate the hands by pulling the elbows apart, with more emphasis in the beginning on the glove-hand elbow. The motion should be like stretching a rubber band
  • As the throwing hand goes back, turn the hand palm-down and start to make a circle. How big of a circle depends on the position and distance you will have to throw. Small circle for catchers and infielders, larger circle for outfielders.
  • Land the front foot, which should be about when the glove-side elbow gets as far as it can. Then start pulling the elbow back like you’re trying to elbow someone behind you in the gut. (Be careful not to just swing it around like you’re elbowing someone in the head.)
  • As the glove-side elbow begins to pulls back, rotate the hips the hips, which will help pull the shoulders in. You should feel a stretch around the stomach area if the hips are leading the shoulders properly. By now the arm should have completed the circle and be in a position to come forward.
  • Continue pulling with the body, bringing the arm forward with the elbow leading, at or slightly above shoulder height.
  • Drive through, allow the wrist to snap (don’t “snap” it on purpose, just keep it relaxed and allow it to happen), allow the back leg to drag up naturally, and finish with the throwing-side shoulder facing the target. That shoulder should now be lower than the glove-side shoulder.



For details:  Overhand Throwing May Be the Most Under-Taught Skill in Fastpitch Softball

Check out:  Future Stars Softball Camps

Image credit:  Future Stars Camps