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PostPosted: 22 Jun 2010, 00:37 
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This is long, but I just wanted to get some input from other coaches about what you would do in my situation. I just want to note that this is not a thread for debating whether the kids should be separated into A and B teams. Our league was set up so A teams compete against A teams and B teams compete against B teams. These are 4th and 5th graders.

We had 50 players try out. We had thirty jersies and four coaches. So we cut them down to 30 kids. 15 kids on each team. We had three 90 minute practices per week and one game per week on Saturdays. In practices, when we did skills, every coach had 7 or 8 kids to work with. If we did any five on five stuff, then we did it on three courts so nobody was standing around watching. I felt like that worked well because we had four coaches and all the players were kept active.

In the games though, it was different. This was the first year playing organized basketball for all the kids but one. Their skills were very limited. It was hard to rotate 15 kids through a game when only 3 or 4 of them could dribble a basketball competently. I ended up playing the more skilled players at the point most of the game and I rotated the other kids through the other positions. Some of the problems I had ... My more skilled players were not able to get as many shots from the point as they would have at other positions. Sharing playing time with 15 kids limits each kid's time on the court. If I fell behind in the rotation, some kids got very limited playing time. A couple of parents complained about some kids playing more than others. (Here I should point out that it is not an equal play time league, but I always got all the players in the games more than once. No comments about the league are necessary. I already know and I can't change it by myself.)

So I've been thinking about next year. I want to help as many kids as I can, but in practices I found that when we worked on skills, I was most effective when I was only teaching 7 players at a time. Next year we probably won't have four coaches. So if I get three coaches, should I cut it down to 24 players? Should I stick with 30 players and be less effective? We had games on holiday weekends and even with 15 players on each team, only six out of 15 might show up for a game on a holiday weekend. Sometimes practice attendance was not very good. I had several practices where only 8 out of 15 kids showed up.

So what I'm trying to figure out here is how many kids i should keep after tryouts next year taking everything into consideration. I would hate to cut the numbers down and then end up playing a game four on five on President's Day weekend. But with fewer coaches, I don't know that we could work as effectivly with the large number of players. So I'm just seeking input here while I try to firm up my own preferences.

Thank you in advance for your thoughts.

PostPosted: 22 Jun 2010, 05:57 
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Thats a tough call coach.....

I guess it all depends on your philosophy for this age group. Is it to teach them something about the game and let them have fun... or is it to win? 15 is a lot of playing time to spread among 15 players. How do you make everybody happy? Unless you sub 5 at a time, keep them moving in and out you are going to have trouble keeping everybody happy, ESPECIALLY the parents.

So, I will ask you again, what is your philosophy for YOUR program... you cant control what other teams do, you can control what you do.

To me, 4th and 5th graders should be having fun while learning how to play the game to the best of their abilities. It seems like you are doing the best you can to get everyone in the game. How do you balance your practices with games IF your players don't come to all the practices and miss games? That alone forces you to have more players on the team which limits playing time. I would have a pre season meeting and explain that dilema to the kids and the parents... (more for the parents because I would bet that you have little to NO problems with the players)

As those kids get older and get to the high school level they will learn quickly, NO practice - NO play. Right now its all about having some fun and getting them to love the game. JMO

PostPosted: 22 Jun 2010, 07:49 
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To answer your question, I tried to imagine what I would do. That doesn't mean this is what you should do, but maybe it gives you ideas. Here's what I would do...

First, for next year I would try to come up with a way to make a positive impact on all 50 kids that try out. Yes, all 50. I would consider and look into some of the following approaches...

- Recruit and train a couple assistant and/or coaches. Local college players can sometimes be a great source. Look for a kid that loves the game and aspires to be a coach some day. Once I determine how many coaches I can get, I would try to figure out how to divide things up and organize. In an ideal situation, you have 7-8 kids on each team, but you work with other coaches to combine practices. This way you can still play "some" 5 on 5 during practice if you want, even if some kids don't show up. 7-8 is the perfect number to get kids playing time in games. Baseball has 12 or so kids on a team and plays 9. Soccer usually has 8 kids and only a couple sit. Why do we have 15 kids on a basketball team when only 5 can play at a time? It's common practice but doesn't seem like a good one. And practicing with 3on3, 4on4, in practice is a good thing and works fine when you only have 6 players show up. Also, having one extra coach to help out when other coaches aren't available would be good. Maybe your assistant also serves as a fill in coach.

So 7-8 players per team is the ideal situation but I know that might not be feasible.

Now the whole attendance thing, is it really that bad?. If only 5 out 10 kids show up for practice, that changes things. You definitely want at least 7-8 players there for you to work with.

- The other thing I would consider is somehow creating some type of hy-brid program. Maybe you have around 24 kids that try out and get on the "travel team". So this team plays in the organized games. The rest of the kids have practice like normal and scrimmage each other. You could mix things up so different teams play each other each week. The best thing for these kids is to play 3 on 3 anyway. This will get the kids more touches and develop them. That's what they need. You could do what they do in youth soccer. They practice a couple times a week. The first 45 minutes of practice is skill development. The last 30 minutes or so is games (3 on 3 or maybe 4 on 4). The parents can come and watch. They will all have fun. All kids want to do is play. They won't even realize they aren't on the travel team and will like it more because they get more touches.

You could even argue your travel team should play 3 on 3 because they get more touches.

Anyway, I don't really like one player handling the ball all the time. And I don't like too much 5 on 5. Kids don't have a chance to develop that way.

I guess I would just try to come up with a way to help as many kids as I can without sacrificing quality. I would try to be creative and innovative. If nothing pans out, go with my instincts with the number of players I take on.

Without being in your shoes it's hard to know exactly what to do. But maybe this gives you ideas.

If you have any more ideas, need help on how to recruit coaches, or anything at all, let us know. This is like running a business, except the goal is not to make money. You follow lots of the same business concepts - recruit good people, starting something that people are excited to be part of, create and document processes, manage people, build relationships, leverage a good workforce that can do much more good than you alone, etc.

Good luck!

BTW, I think the scrolling issue you mentioned only happens Internet Explorer. I just wrote this big long post in Firefox and had no issues.

Jeff Haefner

PostPosted: 22 Jun 2010, 10:15 
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GREAT ideas Jeff..... so IF you can recruit other coaches this is a way to get every kid involved..... You say that you have a lot of facilities to work out at... inside and a lot of outside courts..... so that shouldn't be a problem... I just wouldn't drill taking charges outside :-)

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