By Joe Haefner
One year I coached two teams, a 7th & 8th grade team (12 to 14 year olds) and a Fresh/Soph team (14 to 16 year olds). Besides, being a VERY busy year, it was also an extremely educational year from a coaching standpoint.
I was frustrated from the year before when I coached 6th graders, because the offense wasn’t where I wanted it to be, and I wanted a little more control over the offense (Bad Idea). For both teams, I decided I was going to run Bo Ryan’s Swing Offense (Bad Idea). It seemed to work well for him, and I thought I might as well give it a shot. I created breakdown drills and I decided I would spend at least 15 minutes every practice drilling the patterns into these players. Little did I know…
Here are some conclusions I came to:
1. Youth players (14 & under) forget patterned offenses or plays, so why spend time on them during practice. Even with 15 & 16 year olds, the offense would consistently break down after 3 to 4 passes.
2. Most of the points we scored were off of fast breaks, loose balls, turnovers, and offensive rebounds. Shouldn’t we practice some more situational & disadvantage drills if that’s where we get most of our points?
3. I could have spent a lot MORE time teaching the players the fundamentals of the game. How to read screens, how to pass, how to cut, how to shoot, how to handle the ball, and so on. Instead, I WASTED a lot of time on a patterned offense.
4. Teaching the fundamentals of the motion offense would have benefited both teams more in the long run. Rather than teaching them a pattern, I should have taught them offensive principles. It would increase their basketball IQ. Also, when they got older, it wouldn’t matter what offense the coach runs, they would know how to play the game.
5. Kids tend to become ROBOTIC and FREEZE up when running the plays and patterned offenses during games. They don’t react to the defense, because they are trying to please you (the coach) by running the pattern. When they forget the pattern (which is 90% of the time), they panic and freeze up. Why not run an offense that teaches the players how to react to the defense?
I decided that simplicity is better and I will always run the motion, especially at the youth levels. I’m not saying that you can’t use a few simple plays during the year. I just wouldn’t advise any more than that.
If you would like to learn more about how to coach and teach the Motion Offense, take a look at our Motion Offense eBooks and Audio.
What do you think? What have your experiences been?