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PostPosted: 29 Jul 2018, 22:33 

Posts: 3
I have coached my daughter's youth team the lady three years, through 4th, 5th,and 6th grade. I got almost all of my tips and theory from this website, and feel we went about things correctly and did well for the most part.

Now my daughter is moving into junior high and my son into 4th grade, so I hope to start the cycle over with him. I've reflected on some of the things we struggled with the most in that first year with the girls (following substitutions) and think I can correct most of my mistakes.

However, our biggest problem was scoring in the half court. Our league has no rules on defense, and those young teams tend to sit in a tight zone in the paint and assume you can't shoot from far enough out (we were the only team in an 11 team league to play man). Last year I ran the offense out of a 4 out most of the time. The girls were experienced enough to exploit holes and got better at creating them. Thinking back to that first year experience, though, I don't expect there to be passing or even cutting lanes in that tight zone. Most of our points that first year were from our tall girl getting put backs, which stunted everyone else.

So, after all of that, I'm interested in advice for how to break this problem. That first year while I was still learning we ran old school zone formations with one last and a baseline rover or two posts. I just don't like the development that gives, as the wings and point don't have much chance for shot creation. From watching the 3rd grade team play year I think we will benefit slightly from 4th grade boys being slightly stronger than 4th grade girls already so we may be able to stretch the zone by shooting, but I don't want them extending shots too the detriment of form either.

As you can see from this lengthy post, I'm arguing with myself through this. Any thoughts would be appreciated.


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PostPosted: 31 Jul 2018, 13:42 

Posts: 899
Sounds like you did a great job with the girls, I'm sure the junior high coaches are going to be happy.

Tough one on being the only team playing M2M, I've been there many times. If you can bend the ear of the league directors it at least allows you the opportunity to let them know what you're doing and why. I was able to change a few rules by just talking with the folks who ran the league.

If that doesn't work and you're stuck facing zones, I think you're dialed in on how to deal with them. There's really no secret. It stinks in terms of basketball offense development for your kids, but it will improve their passing and teach them patience.

Quick story: Had a team playing 4th/5th grade and all the other teams played zone d. I got so frustrated once I told my kids to pull out high and wide then just pass the ball between them. The zone d stayed in their tight formation, no one came out. It was nuts. I think it lasted about 10 minutes before I caved. Not the best way to handle it, but sometimes you get frustrated as a coach.

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PostPosted: 16 Aug 2018, 04:09 

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I would also add become a high tempo, defensive oriented team (M2M is great at this level and I applaud you for playing M2M) that can put pressure on the other teams PG. If you have the right player(s) to put tremendous pressure on the other teams PG (most leagues this age are half court defense only), put pressure on them right away, play high tempo transition basketball, hope to get a lead and then play very patient on offense.

I think the idea of pulling it out and passing around is actually the correct way to counter this. If a the opposing zone defense is so packed in, and so disciplined they don't come and guard you, not much else to do. I mean, otherwise, if I zone is that packed in and that tight, and that disciplined about it, the only way in the half court to really beat it (especially if you aren't particularly tall) is via outside shooting. At the younger ages, obviously outside shooting is erratic at best.

You should also emphasize patience against the zone anyway, and ball reversal, positioning and spacing, etc. You can still do all of that.


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PostPosted: 20 Aug 2018, 15:09 

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Good points Chip. One thing that almost always works at that age when playing M2M is forcing players to their weak side, which is usually left. You're essentially inviting that player to dribble with their weak hand, which most younger players aren't apt at doing.

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PostPosted: 20 Aug 2018, 20:48 

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The patience thing sounds spot on, though maybe tough to talk a bunch of 10 year old into. It'll of course pay off later too.

My initial thought was to teach each player to attack gaps hard, but remembering back there just wasn't a scoring lane. As long as we can focus on the importance of ball control and smart decisions we in theory should be able to attack, then back out, rotate and attack again quickly while the zone adjusts.

I for sure don't want them getting frustrated and throwing balls up from outside their range. We may start off with a "layup or nothing" mentality until we've worked on shot form a lot, and have done shooting drills with pressure to see if they'll break form.


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PostPosted: 21 Aug 2018, 04:43 

Posts: 4
Hi Scott,

Just one additional comment that I will add:

"I just don't like the development that gives, as the wings and point don't have much chance for shot creation."

In this case, allow the kids to play multiple positions as much as possible. So, allow your PG to play a post position occasionally. I am not sure exactly what offense or how you tried to attack the zone, but it sounds like **maybe** based on what you wrote and I quoted you have perimeter players that are moving the ball around the perimeter but you are mostly looking for flashers in the paint / middle and behind the zone (baseline rover). That rover could probably be anyone. If there is some post player consider putting him at the high post and in that case allow a smaller kid to play there occasionally. You actually may find this is more effective as he may be better with the basketball.

I took a lot of assumptions there about your system, so I may have gone off into the weeds.


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PostPosted: 21 Aug 2018, 07:18 

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No, Chip, what you said is all valid. When I first started with the girls I ran a pretty vanilla zone offense with one post and a rover. We had two or three people rotate in those positions, but not everyone could. The second year was about the same, but we ran more two post.

Last year we switched exclusively to a read and react. Since we faced a lot of zone, we ran a lot of 3-out and 4-out. We also ran some 5-out and allowed the girls to rotate into the post if they saw the opportunity. That kept things more flexible and allowed more attacking opportunities.

However, height is still height, and getting the ball into a short player surrounded by three or so taller players in front of the rim still stunts development. When playing against a zone that is packed tightly in front of the basket, where I would normally teach that guard to attack lanes or work your way around your defender, the opportunities disappear.


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PostPosted: 21 Aug 2018, 11:15 

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It's a shame that leagues allow zone D's at this age level. I get the reasoning, it brings parity to a league but it also makes kids lazy on defense. It's easy to spot the kids who played M2M at the younger levels.

I'm a big proponent of ball movement against a zone. I'd look at this as a great opportunity to become excellent passers. You could even have a rule they need to pass it once around the horn with one reversal before taking a shot.

Have you considered playing a zone in practice and letting your player's get a feel for where the gaps might be?

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