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PostPosted: 02 Nov 2009, 18:56 

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Our league (recreation which emphasizes equal playing time) has two 20 min halfs, so in effect 10 min quarters. From 1st grade through 4th grade we've always had ten kids on the team and split them into two groups of five. Five kids would play for 5 min, the we'd switch out with the next group. Seemed the easiest way to insure equal play time. We'd try work the teams out with strongs and weaks, switching who played with each other from game to game.

This year (5th/6th) I'm running into teams that keep their stronger players in a majority of the game. They will put their weaker players in, but if things aren't going well those kids come out quickly. I'm afraid if we go with two sets of five kids and let them each play alternating 5 min blocks, we'll end up getting killed due to mismatches out on the court.

Trying to figure out a way to sub players while getting close to equal playing time with the flexibility to still remain competitive. One thought is to have a coach track player time on the court and give me a heads up on players who've been in too long or need to get in.

Any thoughts on this?

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PostPosted: 04 Nov 2009, 10:16 
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I've come to appreciate the virtues of piecemeal subbing. I do it by making sure that a minimum complement of "scoring threat" players is in the game (usually two) and shuttling kids in with assignments to support that strategy. That's my overall game strategy for the first three quarters, and the final minutes are spent with the "who's best today" lineup that will try to bring home the "W." Examples of mid-game strategy might include a collective effort to build a statistical advantage like rebounds, time-of-possession or turnover ratio, e.g., to induce a defensive lapse with a slow-down offense and then apply exhaustive defensive pressure.

The piecemeal approach is more "organic" and has several benefits:
1) weaker players perceive their minutes as more "quality" than "obligatory;"
2) all players appreciate contributing to a dynamic strategy;
3) stronger players appreciate their earned status as "finishers"

I also substitute piecemeal for the finishing five in critical situations, usually for short periods (e.g., free throws or defensive situations) when they need to catch their breath or regain their composure and where I can get them onto the next page ("catch your breath - you're going right back in - here's what we want to do...").

Finally, the piecemeal approach is a greater challenge and more fun to coach. I do recommend an assistant coach or some kind of reminder system to help "stir the pot"
and make sure nobody gets overlooked. e.g., pair up players in advance and tell the bench to let you know if their mate is looking tired, hurt or even clueless against something they can fix. Everyone is involved!

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PostPosted: 06 Nov 2009, 10:14 
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Coach,

I would wonder what their philosophy about playing time REALLY is. Is your goal to teach them the fundamentals of the game and get them ready to play at the next level, or is it about Ws and Ls. Don't get me wrong, everyone wants to win and even if YOU didn't keep score the kids will. Winning is fun, no doubt about it... but, the league has to set some guidelines and talk to the coaches that don't follow them.
Those coaches are about WINNING... not so much about teaching and developing players. Thats not very good for YOUTH sports. Maybe you should nominate them for 5th - 6th grade coaches Hall of Fame. J/K
I like the way you break up your team so they can all get some meaningful playing time. Here is a thought.... break it down into four 8 minute periods with everyone getting their equal playing time... then you have 8 minutes where you can play the "best" players of that game.
This way you will be sticking to your ideals and still give your team / players a good chance for the W.
What do you think Rob?


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PostPosted: 06 Nov 2009, 10:37 
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Great thoughts, guys! When I coached a 5th & 6th grade rec team, I used a numbering system. It only works for teams with ten or less players. Actually, if you have 10 players, just split them into two groups. You could mix the groups every quarter, so different players get to play together.

Back to the numbering system:

1. I would assign a number to each player. If I had eight players, I would make sure that 1 & 2 was either a good ball handler and/or scorer. Then, I would do the same thing for 6&7. This way, you have a player who can score and/or handle the ball on the court at all times.

2. If we played 4 8-minute quarters, I would sub every 4 minutes.

3. I subbed for the next numbers in line. For example, if I had players 6,7, 8 on the bench. I would sub for 1,2,3. When I had 1,2,3 on the bench, I would sub for 4,5,6. When I had 4,5,6 on the bench, I would sub for 7,8,1. When I had 7,8,1 on the bench, I would sub for 2,3,4.


One mistake I believe I made when coaching 7th graders was that I didn’t allow everybody to finish the game. I would start the best players and finish the game with who I thought were the best players.

Looking back, I believe I hurt the long-term development of the team by not playing everybody at the end of the game. We never know who is going to work their butt off during the offseason. We don’t know who is going to grow another 10 inches. We don’t know whose coordination is going to catch up with their body size.

If some of the players I did not play at the end of the game, all of the sudden blossom their junior year of high school (or sooner), they may not have the game experience that’s needed to know how to play in end of game situations.

So my only other piece of advice would be to get all of your players end of game experience.

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PostPosted: 06 Nov 2009, 15:11 

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Great ideas here, and I couldnt agree more with making sure everyone gets playing time especially in youth sports. They wont learn or get better without game experience. My philosophy is that learning is the priority and I will never sacrifice learning for a win. I do my best to make sure and put the boys in the best position to succeed and build confidence. Knowledge without the confidence to use it is empty information. You don't get confidence from the bench.

What I usually do is set my line-up/subbing the night before the game. I do this so that I dont get caught up in the moment of the game and make sure that I am making clear headed judgments. I determine my lines and rotation purely based on the week of practice leading up to a game along with overall grasp of what we have learned up to that point. We play 8 minute quarters and I sub every 4 minutes. I have 12 boys (12u) on my team and nobody gets less than 12 minutes a game with the most being 20 minutes a game. No player stays in the whole game. I do try and arrange the lines so that my developing players are on the floor with the more advanced players so that they have a better opportunity for success. Putting a line on the floor with all developing players can spell disaster for confidence if they blow a lead or dont score. By having a good mix I think it really has helped with confidence building. At the break each quarter I read off the players and positions to start the quarter along with who and where to sub at the 4 minute mark. At 4 minutes the boys going in watch the clock and check in at the table on their own. They know who they are going in for and the boys coming out also know and can pass along any info (e.g. who they are covering in Man defense) on their way off the court.

I have also begun the instillation of the Read and React offense this season which has been a real big help when it comes to subbing because there are no plays designed for a single player or position. Everyone is "live", so to speak, and all the principles are the same for every player on the court. This has made the most impact with assists and spreading the ball around. Having set plays really seems to dictate a lot how/who you can sub.

Anyway I could ramble on forever, just a topic I made a lot of adjustments too when I took over the team and really feel it has been an improvement across the board.

Hope that helps,
-Dave


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PostPosted: 06 Nov 2009, 17:49 

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Appreciate the ideas. I think it's going to boil down to mixing teams of 5 and switching every 5 min (we play 20 min halves) making sure I have a balance of strong players with developing players.

First two games, here's what happened:
Game #1 - team had a very tall kid, kept him in almost the entire game. Used him to score, rebound, etc. Dev players got minimal play time. Game #2 - team subbed developing players for last two min of half, played them 2nd half until score goes other way then pulls them, usually only a few minutes.

I'm feeling the heat from some of the assist coaches to sub more freestyle depending upon what's going on in the game. That's virtually impossible if you're concerned about equal play time. If this was a competitive try-out type league I'd change my style, but it's a rec league.

1) Would you stick to your 5 kids/5 min subbing plan when playing against teams like our first two games or customize it a bit?

2) How do I keep my cool when another coach chooses to ignore the "equal play time" rule? Bothers me as I know if we matched strongs, we'd stay competitive with them.

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PostPosted: 07 Nov 2009, 23:17 
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I would take the time to mix and match as many combos of players as possible. The key to it is make teams that are strong defensively, scoring, height, speed, etc. This is way when you see how to play the other team to win, you already have the lineups set that will work for that circumstance.

This way both playing time and winning are covered.

Playing time and learning should be your #1 priority but as a coach your job is to also teach them what winning is about (the right way). This is a very competitive game. As you can see with the coaches who bend the playing time rules. As they get older it only becomes more and more competitive. I think teaching how to win along with the fundamentals is important.

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PostPosted: 09 Nov 2009, 05:48 
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Coach Rob,

When other coaches sub unfairly just to win, you can keep your cool by knowing that you are doing the right thing. You know that you are developing players for the future. Know that you will be able to take joy a few years down the road when you watch these players you are developing succeed at a higher level. You're pay back will be a few years down the road when you watch these players apply the things you have taught them.

You also need to realize that some of these players you are coaching are late bloomers and will surprise you a few years from now. Some players just need a chance, experience, and they need confidence. They need some to believe in them and give them opportunities. Some kids just don't have the confidence inside them to succeed. They need help with that confidence. And you just never know who the "ballers" will be when they get older.

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PostPosted: 09 Nov 2009, 07:08 
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Rob,

I think you have gotten a lot of good advice here. The bottom line is that you are doing the right thing...#1 - you are playing by the rules, THAT is a great lesson that you are teaching your kids. #2 - YOU are trying to teach them the fundamentals of the game and that's what every coach in that league should be doing. #3 - The goal of that league should be to get those kids ready to play at the next level with the ultimate goal of playing in high school and IF good enough.... college.

There are several gratifying things about coaching AFTER your kids have moved on. Going to watch them play at the next level and you have the satisfaction of knowing that you had something to do with it. You see them as being fundamentaly sound as they play. Every once in awhile I get a phone call from someone who played ball for me a long time ago... guys that played for me in 7th - 8th grade and high school players. That's when you can say to yourself, " I guess the message did get through. "

Keep up the good work and stick to your guns.

Ken


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PostPosted: 09 Nov 2009, 12:14 

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Appreciate the advice guys. Won our game last week while subbing at the 5 min mark to help insure equal playing time. Tough again as other team played two of their better players the entire game. I get what I need to do, just needed confirmation.

Thanks again.

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