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PostPosted: 05 Dec 2014, 08:27 

Posts: 214
This is my first year as a parent of a middle school student-athlete, as my son played 7th grade football and made the 7th grade basketball team.

The rules they play by for basketball are: Separate groups of 5 must play in the 1st and 2nd quarters. Nobody can play in both quarters, but every player must play in the first half. If you have more than 10, then obviously some of the first half playing time will not be equal. We have 12, so they play 6 in the 1st quarter and the other 6 in the 2nd quarter. Then playing time in the second half is completely discretionary.

The coach has taken on the mindset that he will play the best almost the entire second half, while rotating 1-2 boys in for about 1 minute for the sole purpose of giving somebody a quick breather. Most of the teams they have played will continue to rotate the entire team in and out during the second half, while some teams leave the best 1-2 in for most of the half and rotate everybody else. Either way, the boys are gaining valuable playing experience.

Pressing isn't allowed until the second half. Yesterday the bottom 4-5 players finally got in the second half with about 1 minute left and a 14 point lead. The other team continued to press and we turned the ball over a couple times. My thoughts were that if these boys were given the opportunity to play more against the press they would eventually learn how to play against it. They are all strong players with good fundamentals. Some of them just lack the experience of playing at that level of intensity and competitiveness.

My son is one of the players who doesn't receive a lot of playing time in the second half. I'm not posting this just to vent on his behalf. I truly feel bad for the entire group of kids. I've always been a team player and my son understands his role on the team. We're fine with it. He was just pumped to make the team, as he didn't make the travel team cut against the same group of boys the past two years. I'm just wondering where the thought process is in middle school sports. As a travel coach myself, I have met with our school's AD and he gave us a talk about how they work with all of their coaches on developing every single player at the lower levels with the goal of having plenty of players ready to compete for championships at the varsity level. I feel like that talk was skipped when they hired our middle school coaches.

Rant over.

PostPosted: 05 Dec 2014, 12:33 

Posts: 176
I hear you loud and clear. In 7th grade my kid's coach very rarely played anyone but 5 or 6 kids. The first game, he did play everyone, but my kid. He was not happy, nor was I. He clearly was one of the better players. Fast forward, he becomes the "6th man" -- first off the bench. He usually subbed in for the "starter" after the first few minutes and stays in the game. He never did get to "start" that year. At the end of the year, the coach gave the "development" speech. I laughed at him -- nobody, not event the 5 or 6 players developed. .

The following year, 8th grade, was better. Different coach, who really rotated kids in. Changed the starting lineup a few times. The kids where engaged. It was a better experience. So all is not lost. Both the 7th and 8th grade teams had about the same number of "wins."

My suggestion is to find a place where you kid can play outside of the school season. You get better with good instruction and playing. Then next year hopefully he'll be in a better position to get playing time.

I could go on and on. Good luck.

PostPosted: 05 Dec 2014, 15:14 
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Posts: 338
Location: Winter Garden, FL (Orlando suburb)
While I don't agree with the approach of sitting kids for extended periods of time at the middle school level, the good news is that you'll see your child's mental make up and you can teach some good life lessons from this situation.

When things get tough, are they going to pony up and do something about it or sit and pout?

I know this is tough, but I also would not complain about the coach in front of your kid. From my experience, this creates or nourishes the victim mentality. It's really a disservice to the kid not only now, but in the future as well, as they can form a habit of focusing on things they can't control rather than focusing on what they can control.

On a side note, I am not looking forward to when my kid starts to play sports... I already know how tough it is to be objective and he's only 16 months.

Joe Haefner

PostPosted: 05 Dec 2014, 15:28 

Posts: 899
My philosophy at the more developmental levels was always to shoot for equal playing time, allowing all the kids a chance to bring the ball up, and emphasizing passing to ensure more ball touches for everyone. We would actually track the playing time and make up for any shortages in the next game. It worked because my parents were on board with that philosophy. I heard complaints from parents on other teams where the coach ended up playing the better kids and going for the win. I also watched parents switch teams because the coach didn't go for the win and was more about seeing all the kids get better. Their kid happened to be one of the better players and they couldn't understand why the coach played the less skilled players over theirs.

The challenge for coaches is when leagues throw in things like allowing presses or eliminating playing time restrictions in the 2nd half. If you're playing against another coach who is about player development, these situations can usually work out. If you're playing against the coach who is going for the kill in the 2nd half, it takes a tremendous amount of fortitude to follow through with your player development philosophy.

I just don't think there's a clean way out of these situations in 7th/8th grade middle school basketball. It's not an elite tryout team and at the same time it's not all developmental players. It can be extremely challenging as a coach to have a mixed group of skill sets, remain somewhat competitive, and satisfy all the parents.


PostPosted: 03 Feb 2015, 21:33 

Posts: 158
The conference I coach in has a rule: No one who plays in the first quarter can play in the second quarter.

This makes the first half a necessity to run two relatively balanced teams so that you are playing at least 10 players. Most principals insist every kid see the floor for some amount of time during the game.

In the second half coaches can play whoever they want. I tend to play my better kids more during that time, with subs for each one for 2-3 minutes during the second half to get them breathers and give other kids a chance.

Is this participation more than competitive. Yes.
But this is the time where they are going to be stepping into High School where it is more competitive. I had a great kid make the Freshman B team. He'd do whatever you want. Really good at taking charges. Would run through a wall to help you win and was a team leader. He barely played at all.

I still believe that and I tell kids that 85% of their development comes from what they do at practice, not the games. That is where the majority of the development goes on. Should every kid at that level be given a chance to see the court? Yes. But should playing time be even? No. That isn't realistic towards what they'll be heading into and will not create a kind of practice environment where kids are pushing each other for playing time.

Just some thoughts.

Brian Sass

PostPosted: 23 Apr 2016, 10:26 

Posts: 62
Its understandable to feel for the kids on a middle school team. However, they are learning much more than how to play a sport. Every minute the team is together, practice, play, bench...they are a team. It is great for your son and the other boys to be part of a team and learn all that goes along with that. Be sure to cheer your son on and be supportive.

PostPosted: 02 May 2016, 13:42 

Posts: 62
Never too young to learn sportsmanship.

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