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PostPosted: 22 Mar 2012, 07:37 

Posts: 14
I coach a good 4th grade travel basketball team. We've had a good season - we won most of our games and made it all the way to the finals in the playoffs, losing a close game. And before you think I care too much about winning at this age - believe me, I'm not one of those coaches. I play everyone equally (well, at least until the playoffs), often sacrifice score in favor of using proper fundamentals, yada yada. But one of my main goals is to have the boys improve and play good basketball, and winning is one measure of that.

Anyway, my question... One thing I struggle with, with my boys - is to have them play within themselves on offense, and not try to force shots. We play our best when the boys keep moving the ball around, set screens for each other, etc - until someone gets an easy layup. Some games, this goes beautifully, and I've even had refs and opposing coaches come up to me after games and comment about the passing, maturity, and unselfish play among my boys. But other games, this falls apart and the boys try to play "hero ball". I know they're only in 4th grade, and the boys will naturally be overfocused on scoring, and like most 4th graders, they all dream of playing in the NBA someday and try to play like they see on TV. But if anyone has any coaching tips about how to address this, I'd appreciate it.

Before I go, I should also add that I do have one boy who is a truly exceptonal player - he's got moves of a high school point guard, his outside shooting percentage is in the 60s, yada yada. Fortunately, he is also an excellent passer and is a very unselfish player - not a ball hog. But I sometimes think that the other boys are trying to be like him when they play one on one basketball in games, force shots, etc. So what I struggle with is who to have a different message for this boy (who is very successful "going one on one") , from the message to the other boys.

Finally, the last fly in the ointment is that the boy above is my son - which isn't an ideal situation.

Anyway, any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated!

- Dave

PostPosted: 22 Mar 2012, 07:59 
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Posts: 3139
Dave -

I have seen some high school teams that wish they had your problems. :-)

First of all, it sounds like this "problem" is a rare thing, yes? If so, remember, they are in 4th grade - 10 years old?
This should be all about having fun first... teaching fundamentals and how to play the game..... seems like you have covered all that so far.

Is your season over now?

Here are a few things that I did in my summer camps and in practice with my varsity players..... 4 on 4 or 5 on 5 .... the game is to ONE more than the # of players you have..... EVERYONE must score before anyone can hit the game winner, and you can decide that IF you want.... IF this was me, I would make sure that your son was NOT the kid shooting the game winner. ( just to keep others happy) This drill ensures that the kids learn TEAM balll....and NOT force shots....Another game we played was half court NO DRIBBLE..... and the last one was an OFF HANDED game... you can only dribble with your off hand ( I had my kids shoot with their off hand too, this might not work well with your age group) so your rule could be, dribble with off hand only and you can shoot with your good hand. The DEFENSE can NOT steal the ball or block shots.... they have to play POSITION DEFENSE... forces them to move their feet and NOT reach.

I had very few rules with my teams / players on the floor.... the big one was DO NOT shoot a shot that you don't work on in practice or you know you cant make. ( that got them a quick trip to the bench - the wrost seat in the house, next to me. ) :-) Now, IF you have the ball with time running out, there are NO RULES ..... get a shot off.

Winning is a by product of a solid fundamental team... hopefully you are playing m2m defense. As for your son being the best player and the kids wanting to be like him OR BE LIKE MIKE.... better than wanting to be like some gangster player. You say that your son is not a ball hog so that shouldn't be a problem then..... but when the game is on the line and you need a basket.. just stands to reason that you would go to him or the kids would.

Another thing that we did at the end of every practice, we ran 'SITUATIONS" 30 seconds on the clock, up or down 2/3 team A has the ball with or without the lead... ball out on the side or 84' away... you can make them up as you go along... its a great teaching tool and the kids love to compete.

I hope I gave you enough ideas here and answered your questions... IF NOT, ask way.

PostPosted: 22 Mar 2012, 08:01 
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By the way - they are youg kids, they are going to make mistakes and some bad decisions....its all part of the learning process......

But heck, thats why they are paying you the big bucks... :-)

PostPosted: 22 Mar 2012, 08:16 

Posts: 14
Thanks, Coach Sar!

Yes, the season is over. Now most of the boys are onto AAU ball. I'm not coaching this time, but I help out sometimes and I'm already thinking about the summer team I'll coach. Fortunately, my son is not playing with the other boys this Spring - the AAU club put him on their Select "National" team.

Anyway, I'll try the drills you suggest. I do already do the no dribble one, and a variation where you get 3 dribbles once you've completed 5 passes. One concern about the "everyone has to score" drill would be that it could be embarassing if one of the boys has too many misses, but I think I could make it work.

Other drills I do are to have the boys run the offense without the ball or without being allowed to shoot. This takes the focus away from shooting and is very effective, but I can't run it too too long without the boys getting bored. I also have them play a half court scrimmage where each team tries to set a record for the number of consecutive passes without a turnover.

PostPosted: 22 Mar 2012, 08:34 
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One concern about the "everyone has to score" drill would be that it could be embarassing if one of the boys has too many misses, but I think I could make it work.

I did this one summer with mixed age kids.... 10/11 year olds and up.... along with at least one varsity kid.... trust me it works.... you wont believe how hard they will work to get "that" kid his score... along with that it develops your leaders.
No one ragged that kid that had a hard time scoring.... since at times they all miss... its about team work.

Good luck

PostPosted: 22 Mar 2012, 09:08 
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No dribble drills are good (3on3,4on4,5on5 -- full and half court). You might also try some rules like "designated shooter", "4 passes before shot", "2 ball reversal before shot", etc. Don Kelbick writes about using the different rules in his motion offense ebook. So for example, in practice or a game you could call out "4 passes" in your motion offense, so that unless you have an advantage break, you want at least 4 passes before they shoot. Or 2 ball reversals before they shoot. You can make the rules permanent or just call them out at times.

I don't know if 4th graders are ready for this, but with older kids I use stats to get kids to play with in themselves. I use Danny Miles Value Point System and players quickly figure out that if they take bad shots they will get a low score. I share individual and team stats. After we accumulate some stats I talk with the players and tell them, if you want to raise your VPS score, you need to improve your FG% by taking better shots, or start making the easy pass, etc. Here's a link to another thread showing the stats I used this past season (they really helped us improve):

Anyway, those are just ideas and like you and everyone said, these are just 4th graders so you'll have to figure out what's appropriate.

Jeff Haefner

PostPosted: 22 Mar 2012, 09:49 

Posts: 14

Maybe I'll try the stats. Obviously, I don't have to share them with the boys either. I've got stats up the wazoo - I have one of the dads keep stats using the "HoopStats" app on my iPad.

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