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PostPosted: 11 Jun 2013, 14:04 

Posts: 2
I am about to start coaching a Y league of 7th-9th graders that have never played together before. Some of the teams will have played as a group. We have a six game season with an hour of practice each week and two practices before the first game. I basically have two hours to teach enough to avoid a total melt-down. What should be my priorities? Here is what I'm thinking (not necessarily in order):

1) The fundamentals -
dribbling - I'm assuming I will get some kids who can barely dribble, I will have an assistant worth with those players separately... for the ones who are reasonably accomplished, I will focus on dribbling under pressure and using an arm to bar the defender
passing - I want to put particular emphasis on the receiver coming to the pass.. in our Jr High and even high schools, I see tons of picked off passes because the offensive player is waiting for the pass while the defensive player is pursuing it
pivots and clearouts - young kids (and even kids up to high school age) panic when surrounded by a defense and I want to teach them to protect the ball by keeping it out from in front of the body (either high or low) when pivoting.
2) Rebounding - I'm assuming that most shots at this age will be misses, so I want to put rebounding as a higher priority than either team offense or defense. In the first two practices, I want to instill an attitude of everyone blocking out and aggressively pursuing rebounds. Again, even at the high school level, kids don't seem to realize that blocking out and going for the rebound are two distinct actions.
3) Team offense - I am thinking I will run some drills with a 3-main pass-cut-replace and hope that the concept takes hold during the games. I feel like it would be pointless to try to put in a formal offense in a couple of hours of practice. (I'm tempted to ignore team offense entirely and spend more time on defense and rebounding)
4) Team defense - I want to play man to man and if I can just get every offensive player actually covered, I think I would be doing well! In two practices, I figure I can drive home the ideas of seeing both the man and the ball and helping out to prevent a layup.
5) Special plays - I will need a basic in-bounds play (just something to reliably get the ball inbounds) and will unfortunately have to work some on breaking presses. It won't be much fun for the kids if we can't even get the ball to half court.

This is still quite a bit for two practices, but is the list about right?

PostPosted: 11 Jun 2013, 14:14 
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Posts: 3139
I'M glad its you and not me. Working on fundamentals is a good thing of course.... as for offense, how about a 5 out open post, pass and cut? Make this as simple as you can.

M2m defense is good, emphasize help defense and rebounding.

Run the same play to inbound the ball under and on the sideline. Hopefully they wont press because two hours to do all of this.. not good. If its a m2m press, get the ball to your best player and clear out.

You can tweak all this stuff as you go along.

Good luck.

PostPosted: 11 Jun 2013, 15:36 
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With REALLY limited practice and preparation time I try to...

- Put in a really simple numbered break so players know what spots to run to in transition. Have them run 5 on 0 with each player taking a shot so they learn how to keep their spacing running down the floor and remember their spots.

- Put in a really simple motion offense. It's basically the spots at the end of your transition. You ran to these spots with good spacing, now we want to keep that spacing while passing, cutting, screening, and moving. As long as you have player movement, ball movement, and good spacing.. that's all you need for offense. The 5 out open post cutting offense that Coach Sar suggested is a good option, maybe a better one, and would be just as easy.

- Teach basic man defense - ball pressure, help defense, sealing seams. I'd spend most of my time teaching on ball defense and then shell drill so players learn help postions and rotations. My rules are:
1. Don't let the ball in the house
2. Contest all shots
3. Don't foul
4. Get all rebounds

- Have players get in a box for under basket in bounds plays. Then you can either just tell them to screen and get open or you can teach a really basic upscreen and cross screen play.

Then spend the rest of the time on fundamentals. Games become an extension of practice (include pre-game warms ups which is just a practice).

I might also teach a super simple end of game play, if I feel it's necessary.

My emphasis would be core values/life lessons, defense, spacing on offense, and fundamental skills. That's just my opinion. Do what seems right to you.

Jeff Haefner

PostPosted: 23 Aug 2013, 07:04 

Posts: 6
1v1 defence and fast break fast your guys can run, they will be enthusiastic about playing exciting bball...but in the shadows, behind closed doors, sneak in some basic 5 out concepts,

-Ball must hit both corners before attack
- in the second corner you must shoot or go 1v1
-ball must go inside once-(drive and kick or post up)

Its a project, think about the process not the outcome.

It would take a season to get the above done at a competitive level.

PostPosted: 14 Jan 2014, 12:22 

Posts: 22
I am in this exact situation, same 2 hours of practice before game one, Y league, but 4th graders for me (are you in Denver as well?).

I will have 4 kids I've coached before and 4 new kids, all of whom are supposedly somewhat experienced as this is a "competitive" league.

With just two hours before game 1, my plan was essentially as follows:

Practice 1: warm up of about 15 minutes of layups, dribbling, 3 man weave to find out what I've got in terms of basic skills. Then introduce a motion O, walking through it without a D. Go over a couple of in-bounds plays. If time, go over a basic press breaker.

Practice 2: same basic plan, but also go over defense, boxing out and rebounding.

We used a basic motion O in the last season I coached at the end of 2013, and we would basically get down screens from the wings to start the O, and hen complete chaos. Maybe once did we get a cross screen on the blocks after the ball got to the wing. The tendency in 4th grade remains to run directly to the guy with the ball and yell for it.

I have been researching and decided on the 5 out motion before I even found this thread. Hopefully the few basic rules of the 5 out and the focus on cutting instead of screening will make it a bit easier for 4th graders to pick up.

The big thing I'm worried about is that this league allows pressing and double teams, whereas the rules allowed neither in our last league. Any team that can put together a half decent press or trap at this age will crush. I do think I'll need to spend time in both of these first two practices on a basic press break in case we run up against a team right away that has a press ready to go.

PostPosted: 14 Jan 2014, 12:31 
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Posts: 3139
Pressing for 4th graders? Thats not too smart. That means there goal is about winning and NOT teaching the kids fundamentals.

I like your plan for the little time that you have to prepare them. Definately spend some time on how you want them to break the press.......... IF they find out you cant handle the pressure they will be all over you.

Spend as much time as you can on fundamentals.... that is what will take you past the tough times. Its not easy with the little time you have but if they cant pass and catch the ball, dribble it a little they wont be able to do any of the stuff you want to teach them.

Play m2m defense, run your open post offense, pass and cut, and IF you can, reverse the ball a little bit, makes you harder to cover. Above all, make sure they are having fun/

PostPosted: 17 Jan 2014, 09:47 

Posts: 22
Practice 1 was last night . . .

I'll paste in below what II had prepared for myself as a coaching plan. Went pretty well. The kids that are new are all at least competent, a couple a very good. My best player is a new kid, only a 3rd grader and will need to be reined in a bit (sloppy one handed passing, not a great listener), but if that is my biggest problem we are in good shape.

I adjusted our layup line warmup a bit to mimic the 5 out motion cuts I want to see, that worked ok. They seemed to get the 5 out concepts pretty quickly in walking through and then running through it without defense, but when we scrimmaged during the last 5 minutes, it all went out the window but I just let them play.

Basketball Practice: January 16

6:15 Introductions and Expectations.

Here is what I expect from you as your coach.

• I expect you to be supportive and courteous teammates. All will make mistakes, lots of them, but they aren’t allowed to criticize another teammate.

• No talking back to coaches, complaining to referees, or talking trash with opponents.

• Being on time to practices and games. You need to take responsibility for telling your parents this is important.

• Maximum effort and attention in practices. 1 hour a week of practice. Not much time. 60 minutes. We need to use every minute, make every single minute productive. You guys are 9 and 10 years old, we are playing in a competitive league now, so I expect you to act like it and practice like it.

--when I call “bring it in” at practice, I expect you to stop what you are doing, hustle over to me and listen. No one last shot. No heaving up a half court shot and then coming over. No grabbing water and then walking over. Stop what you are doing and sprint over.

--When I’m talking to you, I expect you holding the ball. No bouncing the ball. I expect your eyes on me. If you aren’t looking at me, I assume you aren’t paying attention.


--you can double team.
--you can press.
--10 seconds
-- 5 seconds
--3 seconds


Line at the top of the circle with ball.
Line at the wing.
Ball passes to wing, takes a couple of steps towards or away from the ball, and cuts hard to the basket.
Passer hits them in stride for a layup.
Passer follows the shooter and rebounds, takes it passes it to the next player in the middle line.
TRIPLE THREAT when receiving on the wing.
NO DRIBBLES if possible

Partner Dribble, Pass, Pivot, Pass Drill
Continually tell your players to…
– The players first step should be long and explosive past the defender. (Focus on long, explosive strides for every step)
– If he's dribbling with his right-hand, his first stride should be with his left foot. (Left hand - right foot)
– Player should explode by defender shoulder-to-shoulder. This makes it much more difficult for the defender to recover on defense.
– Make sure player takes two to three hard dribbles fast and under control.
– The jump stop should be exaggerated.
– Make sure keeps good balance while performing this drill and pivots into a good triple-threat position before passing.
– Most importantly, everything should be quick and crisp. The player should appear as if he is on the attack at all times.

Defensive slide

Stance and shuffle

Z drill down, chest passes back
Chest pass form. 


Shell drill

1--ball you man

2--passing lanes

-when the ball is not one pass away, we want you sagging….at least one foot in the lane
--why? So you can help.

3--help defense


Let’s talk about our offense. Called the 5 Out motion offense.

Here are the rules of 5 Out.

There are five spaces on the floor that are what we use to set up this offense:

Top of the key

Two wings

Two corners

You can see why this is called 5 out. Because all 5 spots are outside of the lane. This gives us lots of space to run our offense and make cuts to the basket.

This offense is all about cuts to the basket. What is the easiest shot in basketball? It is a layup right here at the basket. So this offense is all about trying to get layups right at the basket.

But we have some rules that we follow in the 5 Out offense so we do not have everyone cutting to the basket at the same time. So here are our rules in the 5 out offense.

First rule, CUTTING RULE there are two times that you can cut to the basket in this offense.

--immediately after you pass, you always make a basket cut.


--when the guy with the ball is looking at you, you are covered or you set your guy up, you make a basket cut


After the basket cutter makes their cut, if they do not get the ball, they clear out to the baseline.

Third Rule: REPLACE RULE. If the player next to you leaves his spot, you replace him.

That’s it. Those are the 3 basic rules of the 5 Out offense.

Now, let’s walk through how this works.

((((walk through offense going through various scenarios and emphasizing getting the five spots filled))))))

PostPosted: 17 Jan 2014, 15:53 
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Posts: 3139
Well thought out plan.... but, Just remember to make sure that they have fun.

PostPosted: 24 Jan 2014, 09:54 

Posts: 22
Yes, good point coach. They seem to be having fun, I just feel overwhelmed trying to pack an entire pre-season's worth of practice into 2 hours and that does't leave much time for things all kids love, like free scrimmaging.

Last night was practice 2, it went pretty well I think. Spent the first half hour on fundamentals like layups, chest passes, pivoting, basic box out technique. Then went over the 5 out again and then ran it live against a defense. The biggest issue we have with it is that the filling of the vacated cutters spot takes place too quickly, so if the cutter pass isn't there, the two guys next to the ball are already standing there stationary and have a hard time getting open. We emphasized waiting to fill until the cutter has gotten right under the basket, but it is still a challenge. We did manage a few nice passes to the cutters for easy layups, so that is positive.

I'm pretty much expecting the O to degenerate into a pickup ball in our first game Saturday, but that is ok. I know it will take a while for it to click.

Spent about two minutes on a press break. If we are pressed on Saturday we are in trouble. But I'd be pretty surprised if any team has in sort of press ready after two hours of practice.

PostPosted: 24 Jan 2014, 10:23 
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Posts: 3139
Try this out for you guys that replace to fast .... tell them to make a good V cut before they go to replace. maybe 2 steps? Its always nice to see something good happen from what you are teaching them.... and it makes them believers too.

As for pressing - I would suggest that you have at least some idea as to how you will beat it... a lot of guys at that level will think, press and fast break. Keep it simple for them.

Good luck

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