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PostPosted: 10 Jan 2010, 12:35 

Posts: 2
Team of 7 and 8 year olds: Our team is fairly weak. Only one kid can handle the ball. The rest of the team cannot even catch a bounce pass. We're working on the basics. The problem is in the games. The referees will not call reaching fouls, which for our team, turns into a game of smear the kid that can dribble. This eliminates the chance for the kids to learn the game.

I've spoken with the referee director about tightening up the foul calls, especially reaching. The response I keep getting is, "The game would constantly be stopped if we called the reaching fouls, and it would never end."

Other than teaching the other kids how to catch, what should I do with the kid that can handle the ball. He's getting very frustrated, and I would like to teach him how to beat a triple / quadruple team with no one to pass to. I would hate to teach the inside leg hook or other shifty techniques, and would rather teach the child how to cleanly beat the"rugby" from the other teams.

PostPosted: 10 Jan 2010, 12:51 
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Team of 7 and 8 year olds: Our team is fairly weak. Only one kid can handle the ball. The rest of the team cannot even catch a bounce pass.

I guess the first thing you need to do is to teach them how to pass and catch the ball.... once they can do that.... you can move the ball faster than they can once they start the "smear" technique.
Once you can do that... the other teams will have to adjust their defense... although I can't imagine what they are being taught.

This sounds more like Rugby than basketball..... maybe there should be a no double teaming rule initiated?

PostPosted: 10 Jan 2010, 13:49 

Posts: 2
I agree passing and receiving is the solution. We've been working on the absolute basics: catching, chest passes, and bounce passes. These are practiced with pair passing, short hot potato, and player in the middle. However, when getting into the dynamics and intensity of the game, the kids can no longer catch, and then in the rare instance they do catch the ball, they freeze and loose confidence to make the easy pass to the nearest open player. Any suggested drills to emulate the live game environment is welcome.

This league could use a no double teaming rule. However, I'm having troubles getting my point across when the referee director won't control the fouling.

I'm thinking about writing a simple list of rules that should be implemented to allow the kids to focus on the game of basketball instead of an uncontrolled game of war or rugby. I think the kids would have more fun, learn, and feel a better sense of accomplishment when guided toward basketball, and away from wild rugby.

The difficulty is to get the rules implemented and the right people to listen. Sending the suggested rules to program director and the director of referees is where I'm thinking about starting. Following up with a meeting. The sad thing is that most of the suggested rules are basic rules of basketball, other than the possibility of no double teaming. I will have to figure out how to counter the arguments I've already heard by the referee director:

1. Calling reaching fouls will dominate the game.
2. The game will never end if we stop the clock on each foul
3. There will be no play time due to all of the foul calls and instruction.

I'm thinking about countering this with a suggested solution: Post the new rules to all of the coaches, and to have the program announce that these new rules will be implemented immediately... Suggesting to all of the coaches to adjust their tactics.

PostPosted: 10 Jan 2010, 13:58 
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You and I are on the same page... this is (and I use the term loosely) "organized mayhem!"

Those kids are learning nothing and I wonder if they are having any fun, which is what it should be all about at this age. You need a meeting with all the coaches to get them on the same page... and that should be to let these kids have some fun while learning a little something about the game.

I wonder what their tactics would be IF the score was not kept? OR if someone were to evaluate what their kids learned from day 1 to the last day of the year.

They have my vote for the 7 & 8 year old Coaches Hall of Fame :-)

You might try by starting with 2 on 2 games with an extra defender, then 3 on 3 - 4 on 4 etc... but having an extra defender all the time... let me know how this works for you.

PostPosted: 10 Jan 2010, 15:18 
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Location: Winter Garden, FL (Orlando suburb)
I can understand where the league director and officials are coming from. If they called every little foul, the game would last all day. HOWEVER, they need to get some control over the game. Here are some things we did when I worked a rec league for 3rd & 4th graders that would help your situation.

1. No defense past the 3-point line. This allowed the offensive players to take a step back, get under control, and start over again. At times, it even somewhat looked like basketball.

2. No double-teaming.

3. Referees are constantly talking to the players and helping them. This helped control the game and not call everything so the game didn't last 5 hours. For example, if a player is starting to foul, they tell the defensive player not to foul. If the continue to foul and/or steal the ball, a foul is called. If a player is traveling, the remind them hold the pivot foot. If a player is standing in the lane, they remind them of the 3-second call.

I hope that helps.

Joe Haefner

PostPosted: 10 Jan 2010, 15:43 
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Location: Winter Garden, FL (Orlando suburb)
One other drill that would be more game-like to improve passing would be 3 on 3 with No Dribble:

Hopefully, this will help them get accustomed to the game-like atmosphere.

Joe Haefner

PostPosted: 10 Jan 2010, 18:56 
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Ive been consulting on this blog site for a month or so now and have really had my fill of 5,6,7 and 8 year olds being exposed to presses, multiple defenses, junk defenses, traps, double teams, triple teams and even quadruple teams. what is happening in the US with youth basketball. It seems as if its a survive or fall by the wayside type of play. At this age, its simply learn to play the game and enjoy doing it. Every coach on here has added their philosophies on this topic, they have offered suggestions on how to set up games and fun leagues, yet I continue to read questions about it. League administrators and head officials in these leagues, need to give their heads a collective shake. They need to sit down and instead of offering excuses about why they allow this to happen and why they allow that to happen,constructively come up with a plan that aids in the DEVELOPMENT of young player instead of their destruction. I'm not going to give suggestions as these other great coaches have already echoed my sentiments. However, I am a little disgusted with some coaches at this age level with their win at all cost attitudes. If that is your philosophy, and you are coaching young kids, may i suggest you leave that age group and elevate yourself to the high school varsity level if you have the skill to do so. This game is not for you, its for the kids. In conclusion, you will have a much more enjoyable experience watching these kids develop and surprise you rather than stressing over a win or a loss that will be forgotten the next day. Coach Mac

PostPosted: 10 Jan 2010, 19:29 
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Well said Coach Mac....

When I read stuff like this it really ticks me off... You have been very kind with what you think those "coaches" should do.... I think they should go lay bricks or something.

They ARE to be commended for working with kids this age.... but don't ruin it with philosophies such as we are reading about. Maybe the high school coaches in those areas should be contacted about what is taught at certain age levels... and what rules should be followed.

Its all been said before... I just don't understand why someone doesn't do something about it.

PostPosted: 10 Jan 2010, 19:47 

Posts: 176
Coaching that age group, I have some thoughts. First, there is no way they can call all of those fouls -- you'll never get a game in. You could go with a running clock, but the playing time will be shortened considerably. As the season goes on, hopefully they'll get to a happy medium.

Second, I wouldn't assume that it is being coached. At this age, kids have a natural tendancy to go to the ball. "Rugby" is a natural tendency at this age. They only cure is countless hours of scrimage during practice. They will get better, but it is difficult.

What to do? As I am sure you figured out, all you can count on is one pass at this level, if that. If you have a "no defense" zone this could work. Take you second best ball handler and have him bring the ball up. Work with your ball handler kid on getting open in the wing -- he could v-cut, wheel around, weave, etc. Get the pass to him (or even a hand off) and have him drive to the hoop before the defense can react.

I know it can be very frustrating. As the season goes on, it gets better. Good luck.

PostPosted: 11 Jan 2010, 07:27 
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I'm not sure who wrote this OR where I found it.... but for all the youth organizations who worry to much about winning and NOT teaching the kids HOW to play, THIS is a MUST read!

What's Wrong With Youth Basketball Leagues

There are so many youth basketball leagues that are win-loss leagues which focus on the end result of whether the kids win or lose the games and that's it. They play zones, have unequal playing time, and create a stressful environment with coaches yelling at the kids and placing the unwanted pressure of winning & losing on them.

This needs to stop!

You want to know what happens with these kids & teams in 5 to 6 years:
Kids Quit the Sport.

The number 1 reason kids quit sports is because it's not fun anymore. So why are we making it so stressful for them?

Don Kelbick informed us about a recent study by AAHPER revealed that over 80% of kids who play in organized youth sports no longer play that sport after the age of 13. THAT'S TERRIBLE!!!! Back in the day, kids did not start playing organized sports until they were 13.

Why does this happen?

Kids respond poorly to stress at a young age.

Kids prefer to have fun & play freely!! Placing an emphasis on winning, having unequal playing time and yelling at the kids create stress which is why so many kids turn to the Wii & playstation. This is part of the reason why we have an UNHEALTHY nation.

Why do you think AND1 basketball has become so popular?

The stress levels are low and the kids are allowed to have FUN. I used to be opposed to AND1 basketball until I learned why kids were turning to it.

The other teams that focused on the fundamentals & practiced game-like situations are better!!

They didn't get caught up in the wins and losses. Rather, they focused on creating fun, relaxed atmosphere while teaching the fundamentals. Since they have solid foundation on making lay ups, dribbling, passing, shooting, and playing man to man defense, they now can handle the other teams that spent less time on the fundamentals and focused on the insignificant stuff that won't work at the higher levels.

It's also VERY IMPORTANT to apply the basketball fundamentals & skills in competitive game-like situations. If you never put them in situations that make them use the new skill in a game-like environment, it'll be very difficult for them to apply it to the games. All of the sudden, defenders are there and the newly-learned skills go out the window because they had few repetitions practicing the fundamentals with a defender guarding them.

Practice the skill WITHOUT the defense to LEARN the skill.

Practice the skill WITH the defense to APPLY the skill.

Also, if the high school coach of these same kids decides to run zones, traps, and presses, they are that much more effective because the players have a solid foundation versus a group of kids that just worked on presses, traps, and any other tactic that took advantage of a flaw in the youth basketball system.

Kids that could have been great never got the playing time to develop.

A 6'0 mature 13 year old may be good now, but the 5'9 skinny, uncoordinated kid that is going to be 6'9 may be the best in the future. The timid, smaller player with great decision-making skills loses playing time to the more aggressive, bigger player.

If these players don't get playing how time, how are they supposed to get better? If they don't play, they might QUIT!!

I'm not saying that you don't want your kids to win. The kids should still play to win. I'm just saying that YOUR focus should be on developing the players, so it gives them the best opportunity to win when they get older.

Here is an example of a development league progression:

8 to 10 Year Olds (3rd & 4th Grade):

Play 3 on 3 basketball. You can also take a look at this article Could 3-on-3 Basketball Be The Best For Youth Players
No pressing, traps, or zone defenses.
Man to man defense can not come outside 3-point line.
Equal Playing Time.
No 3-pointers
Height of Rim - 8 to 9 Feet

Junior Ball - 27.25" - 27.75" (8.75") - International Size 5
10 to 12 Year Olds (5th & 6th Grade):
Start to introduce 5 on 5, but still use 3 on 3 to teach basketball concepts in practice.
No pressing, traps, or zone defenses.
Man to man defense can come to half court. Full court man to man pressing is allowed in the last 4 minutes of the game. No organized presses (1-3-1, 2-2-1, etc.)
Equal Playing Time
No 3-pointers
Height of Rim - 9 to 10 Feet

Intermediate Ball - 27.75" - 28.5" (9") - International Size 6
12 to 14 Year Olds (7th & 8th Grade):
5 on 5 basketball.
No organized presses, traps, or zone defenses.
Full court man to man defense is allowed in 2nd half of the game.
Fairly equal playing time.
Height of Rim - 10 Feet
Girls - Intermediate Ball - 27.75" - 28.5" (9") - International Size 6
Boys - Men's Ball - 29.5" - 30" (9.5") - International Size 7 - There are also arguments that boys of this age should use an intermediate (or women's) ball.
If you would like to find out more about a successful league, that encourages development of our youth the right way, I highly advise you to visit Martin Spencer's site on Mini-Basketball. It's great!

All of the leagues should be required to place a heavy emphasis on:
Teaching skills and concepts.

Placing players in competitive, game-like situations to practice the skills. You can also use fun, youth basketball drills.

Creating a relaxed, fun environment. Higher stress levels slow the learning process and cause kids to quit sports.

Treating competition like fun scrimmages. Too many coaches get caught up with what's happening on the scoreboard rather than teaching their players how to play.

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