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PostPosted: 18 Dec 2017, 20:58 

Posts: 26
I am coaching a 5th grade town travel team. Nearly all my kids are multisport kids but they are struggling to deal with multiple input tasks in basketball. For example:

1. They can find their man and stick with them and even are starting to slide into help position. But there is no instinctive reaction to shut down passing lanes when an opposing player picks up their dribble. We do shell drillls, calling ball and help and I even hear them communicating in games.

2. They can cut to get open, but then stand and watch the point guard instead of back cutting when denied.

It is almost like they can only process so much information in real time.

As they are all athletic kids, I suspect this is a function of not enough game experience. We have been running the 5 out since third grade and while they are now getting the read part, they are still slow to react if at all. Is this something that just takes more time and repetition? It feels like continuing to drill back door cuts and other aspects of the game will bear fruit, but is this a developmental/age issue? They all seem very ball focused at this time.

Any advice would be appreciated.


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PostPosted: 19 Dec 2017, 07:44 
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What you are seeing is normal. We all have similar issues and the ones you see are common. Some teams are better than others. And some have different problems that others. You just keep working to solve problems... working on 2-3 at a time. With coaching youth basketball it's a marathon, not a sprint. Each week you get a little better and that all adds up in 5-6 years from now.

This is what we do. Not saying it will help you. Just what works for me.

We constantly emphasize spacing, ball movement, player movement, and taking good shots.

We avoid getting technical because we don't want them thinking too much. If they are out there thinking that just doesn't work too good.

The thing we talk about the most is spacing. Next we talk about / work on ball movement and player movement. Last we talk about taking good shots. Don't really talk about shot selection too much... maybe once a week at the very most.

Then we practice different motion offense actions:
- basket cut
- back door cut
- post up
- ball screen
- away screen
- back screen

We then show players how to recognize when they can do those things. Then just keep spacing, pass the ball, and move (using some type of action... cut or screen).

With younger players you will probably simplify and just use cuts and maybe one type of screen. Add other screens later.

In drills and even scrimmages we teach players to read the defense. But all that is really important is the spacing, ball movement, and players movement... until we get a good shot. I think want to get too caught up in the technical stuff and get them thinking. This is the part (reading defense) that takes a long time (years).

Constantly work on and talk about spacing when we practice. And spend a lot of time getting players to pass the ball, get reversals, and just moving with some type of purpose.

The other thing most players do is over dribble. They dribble every time you catch. So you add rules like "no dribbling allowed" or "3 dribble max each time you catch".

My advice. Keep is simple with those basic motion concepts of spacing, ball movement, and player movement. Use simple rules and restrictions in scrimmage to get players doing what you want. Then keep teaching fundamentals of shooting, cutting, passing, screening, etc. It will eventually translate into games... in time.

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Jeff Haefner
http://www.BreakthroughBasketball.com


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PostPosted: 19 Dec 2017, 10:58 

Posts: 26
Thanks Jeff. I was not aware that it was a 5-6 year horizon.

That actually puts my mind at ease.

I have found that the kids I see who really "get it" at this age tend to watch a lot of basketball(siblings, NCAA or College Fans) and are year round hoopers. Knowing the horizon is out that far is very helpful. I see small progress each week, so hopefully I continue to over the coming years.

I really just want them to continue to love the game. It is too bad it is so hard to get good solid matchups in a man to man setting as opposed to the crazy pressing nonsense that is so prevalent. But I plan on continuing to fight the good fight.

Thank you again for your response.


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PostPosted: 22 Dec 2017, 12:25 

Posts: 899
JeffHaefner wrote:
What you are seeing is normal. We all have similar issues and the ones you see are common. Some teams are better than others. And some have different problems that others. You just keep working to solve problems... working on 2-3 at a time. With coaching youth basketball it's a marathon, not a sprint. Each week you get a little better and that all adds up in 5-6 years from now.
This ^ is on point. Good summary.

Great topic. Basketball has so many moving parts, and with kids growing/maturing at different rates, you're bound to see different levels of a player's court sense. Bob Bigelow has a few vids on YT where he talks about what it's like for younger players on the court. One of his points was how many decisions a player faces on the court every so many seconds. I can't remember the number off the top of my head, but it was staggering. Throw in the parents yelling instructions from the sidelines, coaches shouting, refs blowing whistles on adjacent courts and it's not the calmest environment for making split-second decisions.

Having a competent court sense/basketball IQ takes time to develop. The players with older siblings who play basketball seem to "get it" a lot sooner than other players.

I'm a big advocate of having a few simple rules that trigger the players into action on something like a back cut, dead ball, etc. For example, if you're out at the 3 point line and the defender's foot touches the 3 point line, you initiate a back cut.

Use the phrase "this is what WE do when..." to create that sense of team. "On our team, WE are in the player's face when they pick up the dribble and deny one pass away". Show them what it looks like and emphasize that in a few games.

It sounds like you've had these kids since 3rd grade and will continue to coach them which is a nice advantage. With some patience and longer-term vision, you can choose a few key points on defense and offense, work on those and become proficient before adding too much to their plates.

Back when I coached flag football, it became evident to me that if we were good at a few critical skills on the field, we could dominate. Other teams were working on fancy plays, and we became experts at fakes. All it took sometimes was a well executed fake handoff or our QB looking one way and coming back the other way, and we were off to the races. The same can apply in basketball. You pick a few skills (e.g., blocking out, sprinting cuts, setting a proper screen) and become experts at those skills. This doesn't mean you're not executing the other skills, it just means you have 2-3 things on offense and defense that your team does very well. You have to decide what those are for the highest impact.

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PostPosted: 24 Dec 2017, 09:36 

Posts: 26
Thanks Coach, I appreciate the advice and will put it into action.

Hopefully it all will come together in time.


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