Are You Playing Zone Defense with Your Youth Team? Would You Like to Improve Your Man or Zone Defense? Are You Frustrated with Your Youth Defense?
"I started coaching a middle school team 3 years ago (all 6th graders). Like many coaches at this level, I was a parent volunteer and had little experience in coaching basketball. I got involved with the high school coach and got her involved with our program. She told me the players coming to her program cannot play M2M and their zone defense is even worse because they do not have the fundamentals.|
I set clear goals (SMART goals) for the team and each girl. I scheduled and planned practices. We finished the year 0-12 only scoring 14 points a game and giving up almost 40. I reinforced with our team and parents that we are giving up the short term gratification of using "zone defense" for a long term foundation that will benefit the girls long after they are finished with their middle school careers.
The following year, we went 5-11 and only lost by an average of 8 points (26 ppg on defense). The last year they were in middle school, we won the championship. We went 15-3 with the best defense in the league (16 ppg) and the second best offense in the league (29 ppg). These were the same girls that went 0-12 just two years before.
We did it against mostly "zone" defenses. We didn't do it with more talent or different players. We did it through hard work and determination and learning how to play defense (footwork, positioning, deny, help and recover, rebounding, transitioning) while everyone else was fixated on winning now. Because our defense became so good, our offense improved dramatically. Our offense had to play and learn how to score against the best defense in the league every practice.
Coaches would ask me after games, "your team is tenacious; how did you get them to play M2M defense like that?" I would tell them," it started two years ago while you guys were beating us up with zone defenses."
I tell you this as a testimonial to working on building a solid foundation. That formula works for everything you will do in sports and, more importantly, in life. There are no short cuts to long term success."
We believe this is a VERY important lesson for youth coaches... As you probably know, we highly recommend and preach man to man defense to youth coaches. There are countless reasons to play man to man defense with youth teams (which we won't go into all the reasons in this particular article). But suffice to say, man to man defense is better for your team and their development of players.
The biggest objection we hear is that man to man defense takes too long to teach and the coaches/players want to win now. It's the old "instant gratification" problem.
Well if you could just show a little bit of patience and emphasize the right things with your players, YOU could have the same success that this subscriber had above. Not only is he teaching fundamentals and preparing his players for the future. But he's also winning a lot of games and having fun!
We hope this story inspires you to stick to what you know is right and overcome your urge for instant gratification. Play man to man defense. Teach the fundamentals. Set small goals that are not based on winning, instead base them on learning and development. Be patient. And eventually success will follow.
If you have any questions, let us know. We want to see you succeed.
What do you think? What are your experiences? Do you have any thoughts, ideas, and suggestions?