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PostPosted: 02 Feb 2022, 13:47 

Posts: 14
I've been asked by a few kids and parents to help coach our middle school girls in post-season tournaments this year. I'll be going from coaching high school boys (C-Team) to middle school girls. I've helped coach girls before, but it was at the college level. Given the limited amount of practice time we'll have before the tournaments start, what would you all say are some key things I should do or avoid to maximize the time we have?


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PostPosted: 04 Feb 2022, 11:56 

Posts: 9
That's a good question, and not an easy one to answer.

If I put myself in your shoes, I'd probably start by checking with their current coach. This should save you a lot of time as far as finding out what they know and what they ran this past season. If you are limited on practice time, and it sounds like you will be, then then easiest and maybe best thing for the team would be to continue on with what they were using already. That being said, if there are things they do or have been taught that are not correct for fundamentally wrong, this is your chance to step in and fix these elements.

I would probably try to build on the team's strengths and then shore up the weaknesses. Again, other than getting feedback from people you trust, you may have to see them in a few practices or games in order to make these judgements.

This is not to say you shouldn't implement new pieces to your offense and defense. Kids like and benefit from learning new things from new coaches, it keeps things fresh for them. I just would not come in and overhaul everything. It might be too difficult for the girls to learn a new offense, inbounds plays, sideline plays, etc. The two things that I would want to make sure the girls had a foundation in would be Motion Offense and Man -to -Man Defense. So if these are things the girls are not familiar with, I would at least begin to expose them to these in my practices. Eventually work some Motion Offense and Man-to -Man Defense into the games. Along with this, I'm going to emphasize skill development in practices (since this will benefit now as well as down the road). With this, I'd include LOTS of small sided games in your practices, 2v2 and 3v3.

I know I painted some broad strokes here, but hope it helps. Any other questions, please let me know.

Mark Brase
Breakthrough Basketball


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PostPosted: 07 Feb 2022, 11:21 

Posts: 14
brase20 wrote:
That's a good question, and not an easy one to answer.

If I put myself in your shoes, I'd probably start by checking with their current coach. This should save you a lot of time as far as finding out what they know and what they ran this past season. If you are limited on practice time, and it sounds like you will be, then then easiest and maybe best thing for the team would be to continue on with what they were using already. That being said, if there are things they do or have been taught that are not correct for fundamentally wrong, this is your chance to step in and fix these elements.

I would probably try to build on the team's strengths and then shore up the weaknesses. Again, other than getting feedback from people you trust, you may have to see them in a few practices or games in order to make these judgements.

This is not to say you shouldn't implement new pieces to your offense and defense. Kids like and benefit from learning new things from new coaches, it keeps things fresh for them. I just would not come in and overhaul everything. It might be too difficult for the girls to learn a new offense, inbounds plays, sideline plays, etc. The two things that I would want to make sure the girls had a foundation in would be Motion Offense and Man -to -Man Defense. So if these are things the girls are not familiar with, I would at least begin to expose them to these in my practices. Eventually work some Motion Offense and Man-to -Man Defense into the games. Along with this, I'm going to emphasize skill development in practices (since this will benefit now as well as down the road). With this, I'd include LOTS of small sided games in your practices, 2v2 and 3v3.

I know I painted some broad strokes here, but hope it helps. Any other questions, please let me know.

Mark Brase
Breakthrough Basketball


Thank you for the thoughtful response. My thought was to keep their halfcourt offense similar to what they did this season, or basic enough that it won't take much time to teach to them. My initial thoughts were to work a lot of ballhandling and passing drills and how to break a press. That seems to be a trend in girls basketball far more than boys in terms of being able to break the press. Often times the girls aren't physically strong enough to make long, cross court passes in time the way boys can. Assuming since they'll be tournaments that parents will be in charge of they'll press like crazy and sit in a halfcourt zone defense, which is the bane of my existence at the youth level, but that's another topic.

How much time would you spend working those two things (press breaker/zone offense) with the assumption that's what you're going to deal with more than a lot of other things?


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PostPosted: 09 Feb 2022, 09:21 

Posts: 9
I completely agree with you.. Would be nice to find tournaments where teams must play man-to-man defense and can't press, but that is not always very realistic. When I coached youth basketball, one thing that I thought worked best was finding a gym, finding a couple coaches who had the same beliefs (no zone or pressing), and I'd bring them into a gym for a round robin in the morning. I'd find a couple youth officials and split the cost of the officials with the other two teams. I always felt these were some of the best learning experiences for my players.

I would make sure the team has an understanding of what you will do against odd front zones and even front zones. I don't think it would require a lot of practice time, but obviously more when you introduce it. Maybe the first couple times you work on it you spend 15-20 minutes in practice, and then when you review, maybe just 5 -10 minutes to make sure everyone knows what they are doing as well as what they should be looking for when attacking a zone (these teaching points are probably the most important when working with them on zone offense...things such as fake a pass to make a pass, ball reversals, get paint touches off pass or drive before perimeter shot, try to get 2 players to guard 1 and then move the ball.....).

I'd spend more time on skill development, even more specific to zone. I might partner kids up and have one work the high post and one on the perimeter. Make a post entry and let the high post attack the rim off one dribble, next progression, have them square to the hoop, and then kick to the perimeter player who has relocated, for a 3. Maybe I'll partner kids up and work on shooting off skip passes and more things like this.

Same for press break- spend more time early on how you want them to break the press and then you can work on skill development that will help you specifically in this area such as: 1v1 ball handling, 2v1 ball handling, triangle passing on offense and 3 on defense -2 of the defenders must trap the ball. There are a lot of drills that will put a lot of pressure on your players handling the ball, and passing, that will make them better against any press break or teams that pressure hard in 1/2 court. I also always emphasize having 3 outlets to pass the ball to if there is a trap (too often kids run away from the ball when there is a trap instead of making themselves available the passer. You can also teach good passing angles this way as well).

Good Luck!
Mark Brase
Breakthrough Basketball


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