Handling Various Basketball Game Situations -- 15 Dos And Don'ts For Game Time

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1. DO establish game time expectations and stick to them. For example, if a player is late and you've established that a late player doesn't play in the first half, then don't let them play in the first half -- even if they're your star player.

2. Don't yell at the referees. This gives your players permission to yell at them and it sets a bad example. Everyone, including referees, make mistakes. They're doing their best. If you disagree with a call, talk to the referee the way you would expect to be talked to if you made a mistake.

3. Do bench players for inappropriate behavior during a game. Inappropriate behavior on my team would be pushing a player, yelling at a referee, yelling at the crowd.

4. Don't let players get away with not doing their best. If your players are not giving 100% of themselves, then bench them until they're ready.

5. Do keep yourself in check and remember that you're dealing with youngsters. Yelling at them isn't going to get the results that you desire.

6. Do establish a time-out ritual. This means that your players know exactly what to do and expect during a time out. One suggestion is to have benched players make room for players coming off the court. This way they can towel off and grab a drink while they're listening to the coach.

7. Do call time outs to rest your players without making a substitution.

8. Do call time outs to correct problems with execution.

9. Do call time outs to call a special play for end of period or end of game situations.

10. Do call a time out to restore order if chaos is reigning on the court.

11. Do use halftime to focus on what the team is doing right and what they need to do in the second half.

12. Don't use half time to focus on the negatives. This only deflates the players. Be positive!

13. Do win with class and lose with dignity! Win or lose like you want the opposing team to win or lose.

14. Don't discuss tactics immediately after a game, save it for the next practice.

15. Do keep all conversations before, during and after the game positive regardless of the outcome!

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Coach S says:
4/13/2019 at 5:01:01 PM

Here is my issue with "equal" playing time with any youth sport. If you are lucky enough to have a team where every kid try's their heart out at every practice ,at every game and on their own time I am ALL for equal playing time! Regardless of skill!

However when I have a kid that lets just say is naturally talented but messes around at practice because they don't feel like they need to take this "easy" drill serious or have a bad attitude because one of their teammates turned the ball over or missed a shot. Or any other negative actions that are not in the best interest of the TEAM. Those kids earn extra time on the bench.

I teach you get what you give.
When a child comes to practice and says check this out coach, I worked every day after school and I can do that thing you showed me. That kid now receives the game time that entitled self proclaimed superstar child gave away.
If you give your all to the team the team will give everything it has to offer to you. You give nothing you get nothing.


B3vn4 says:
4/10/2019 at 4:31:42 PM

I'm somewhat of a beginner in coaching. I have a team 13U boys thats kind of on the slow side but, they do have the endurance to run and play in games. Offensively we run a basic motion. But defense we I try to stay with man to man although we get beat and I eventually go zone 3-2, 2-3 or 2-1-2. In a tight close game situation I want to pressure the ball. Although I just stayed in the zone and told them to play it higher than usual. What would recommend or have any suggestions???

  1 reply  

Jeff Haefner says:
4/11/2019 at 11:16:13 AM

I could give you my philosophy (which is focusing the majority of time on skill development, man defense, motion offense concepts, and a couple BLOBs). We have man defense philosophies that we stick to.

That works for me and allows me to feel like our players are developing for the next level. There are so many to go about things and the key is doing something you believe in and get really good at it.

  1 person liked this.  

Michael says:
1/25/2015 at 6:02:41 PM

I have coached 6th grade boys for the past three years. This year, I moved to 8th grade girls.

The new varsity girl's coach is really concentrating on reestablishing our feeder system.

It was outstanding when she played. My wife played during that time as well. We've gotten away from it the past ten years or so and it shows.

With that in mind, I play everyone. Time is not equal by any means. I stress quality over quantity.

Our seventh grade coach scripts his time. I thought about doing so, but my team is just comprised differently.

It's doesn't work for me. Two of my four subs did not play last year and it shows. So, I need to get them in at the right time and situation.

It's to protect them and help with their success, as much as it is to help win.

Our numbers are down at the HS level...22 kids between Varsity, JV and C team. Some of the kids not in my main rotation (or the other middle school's rotation) may make the HS team.

They need to learn the system now, too. and they learn by playing.

Not talking tactics or negatives immediately after is a wise choice.

Our second game of the year, we were playing a 9-1 team and we are coming off a blowout loss back on the first game.

We hadn't played for a month, to the day, due to Christmas break and some cancellations. Our practice time had been spotty, as well.

Up by 4 with ten seconds to go and we had the ball in our front court.

I had a girl pull up and take a 15 footer. The ball got kicked around, we got called for a foul.

They hit the first FT, missed the second intentionally and kicked it out for a three at the buzzer. We lost in OT.

I saw she was going to shoot it, but was out of TOs. I' was yelling no shot, but she obviously didn't hear me.

I didn't mention the play until the next day, instead, concentrating on the good play that got us there,

I pulled her aside at practice and got about 4 words out, before she said "I know...."

She knew what she did wrong. It also gave me a chance to explain that I pulled her aside. because I didn't want to look like I was blaming her for the loss.

We missed three layups in the first. We committed a foul on the rebound. We didn't rebound the free throw, even though we knew a miss was coming. We didn't take care of the ball in OT after that same girl, my PG, fouled out.

Any one of those things could have locked up the win.

By waiting and doing it privately, you earn a lot of respect from players. Players who respect you, want to play for you and believe me....kids who want to play for you will win games against better teams, who don't feel the same about their coach.

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Joe Haefner says:
1/26/2015 at 8:46:42 AM

Thanks for sharing that story with us, Michael! That's an example that all coaches should follow.

Better to make these mistakes in 7th grade and learn from it.

It reminds me of this story:



Ken Sartini says:
6/27/2014 at 7:25:04 AM

Mark -
These are young boys, it is going to take time and practice to get them to do this. I had to convince varsity boys that IF there shot was off that night... take the ball to the basket so you can get to the free throw liine.

Maybe you can take a 10-15 minute segment in practice that they HAVE to DRIVE to the basket to get a shot.

You can also run a "situation" at the end of practice where team A is down 1 point, 15 seconds on the clock and you are in the bonus. That would be telling you in the game to take the ball to the basket. JMO


Mark says:
6/27/2014 at 2:25:14 AM

With u13 boys, how do I get players to drive more to the basket? I guess some just do not have the confidence yet, but when they DO drive the results are obvious - points / free throws - I emphasise that but it is still rare


Ken Sartini says:
10/15/2013 at 9:26:29 AM

Welcome to the greatest gig in the world.... I wish you a lot of luck.

As for this question .... Any tips on how to stay calm and remember all of this during the excitement of the game ??


Serioulsy, try to stay focused on your goals and game plan.... remember that you are a teacher/coach.... in practice and during games.

I had my moments from time to time but most of the time it was planned... did it ever backfire, sure .... I was all over this senior during one game because I wanted him to get mad at me and play harder, just to show me. Next thing I know, he has tears in his eyes.... I smoothed out his jersey and said.... " let me put that another way" we both started laughing.

Be careful what you say and who you say it to.... every kid is different. Try to stay focused on the game so you can tell your kids how to deal with certain situations...... are you going stay calm all the time.... only if you are in a Coma or have great teams like Johnny Wooden... you rarely saw him get excited.

Good luck and if we can help you with anything,. let us know.


New Coach .. boys 12-13 says:
10/14/2013 at 9:28:01 PM

I'm a new coach and want to give the boys a great experience this season which means..fun, learning, building confidence, fun, team-work, fitness, and learning how to win and handle losing. I can tell that most of you all share the same approach. Any tips on how to stay calm and remember all of this during the excitement of the game ??


Rex says:
3/21/2013 at 3:57:21 PM

Wow! Great site and great tips, seen some that I've been doing and some I need to begin to work on, Thanks


Ken says:
1/18/2012 at 2:36:40 PM

Bbbal V

At this age you should try to get them as close to equal playing time as possible. This age group is more about teaching fundamentals and having FUN.

Its tough when its Susies turn on the floor and she is turning it over but that way you will know what to work on the next day.

It gets to be more about winning as they get older, 7-8th grade level... and even then every player needs to get in the game. There is a middle school around here that in their league... every one plays at least one quarter.

Gametime.... I don't know if you are a player or a coach... but if you are a coach, you should seriously think of a new calling. IF all you want to do is win... then move to the high school level, varsity or maybe a college. JMO

I didn't see you saying anything about teaching fundamentals first ?? Winning is a by product of a fundamentally sound team


BBALL V says:
1/18/2012 at 1:14:21 PM

I can help on the equal playing time and how to keep track. At the beginning of the season I make a spread sheet with each kids name listed in a row on the left side of the paper. Then I have 7-8 columns across the paper (one column for each game). I keep track by quarters (1-4) but if you rotate mid quarter you would have (1-8) as there are 8 different rotations throughout the game. Then I just mark by each kids name which quarter they played. It is easy and since I have each game side by side I can see which kids started last game and make the switch. I can also see if one kid has played more in one game because of an odd number of children. The best is that I have proof so if there is ever a complaint from a parent I have it all documented. Hope that helps.


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