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PostPosted: 21 Nov 2017, 09:15 

Posts: 214
I'm coaching 8th grade girls this year. It's a group that I have had since 4th grade and they have become a major force in our area. We will probably have 9-10 players back this year. 7 of them are legit starter material. Anywhere from 3 to 6 of them will possibly be playing varsity minutes next year as freshmen. The high school coach has been working with them in the offseason since they were in 5th grade.

My dilemma, and one we faced last year, was how do we get our top 7 good game minutes when we are blowing teams out almost everyday? We play 6 minute quarters and these girls are used to playing aau or travel ball with 20 minute halves or something like that. We had a game last year where we wanted to work on our press and it was 8-0 within 45 seconds and the other team never even crossed halfcourt. At that point we begin to look classless if we keep the pressure on much longer.

I'm have my own little player rating system and rotation spreadsheet that I have used for a number of years that helps me make sure I'm keeping balanced lineups on the floor and gives me a good look at the number of minutes I'm planning to play each player. But I'm wondering if anyone has any suggestions for handling an issue like this. We have a ton of work to do still and I know they are hungry to finish things off this year, as we suffered our only loss last year in the conference championship by 6 points. My main goals this year are to keep them sharp and focused, keep sharpening their skills and adding "tools to their toolbox" and to make sure we are getting them ready for that move to high school next year.

What are good ideas for getting that top group of players significant minutes and touches in games without it looking like we are just running the score up? Last year we would run our motion offense through like 2-3 times, everyone touching it before we could look for a shot, and other things like that.


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PostPosted: 21 Nov 2017, 09:47 
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I know this might not be an option... but my best suggestion is to play better teams. I think you want to win 50-80% of your games and most games should be within 10 points. Anything better than that tells me you need to play in different league, play up one age level, or play in different tournaments. For development, I think this is important.

Other things we have done include...

- PG brings the ball up and then no dribbling is allowed.

- 5 passes before you can shoot

- Everyone touches the ball before you can shoot

- Have 1 player break the press by themselves while the other 3-4 wait in half court offense spots.

- No shots until you get a post touch.

- Designated shooter. Only player that can score is ______. This could be your worst player or your best player.

- You box out on every shot or you immediately come out of the game.

- No defenders past the volleyball line or you can't go more than one step past 3 pt line. We usually start out picking up ball at half court and if I see they can't handle it we back up after a little bit. I always try to keep the score as close as I can. But sometimes there is just nothing you can do. The team is so bad you can't tell your players to stop trying. But we never press unless we know we're playing a good team with good ball handlers. And we still limit the % of time we will press... I want us to be great in half court. I tend to restrict my teams quite a bit. Even against good teams and we lose some games because of that.

Hope this helps.

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PostPosted: 21 Nov 2017, 13:05 

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I'm with Jeff, play up a level if you can.

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PostPosted: 21 Nov 2017, 13:32 

Posts: 214
Thanks guys. It's the junior high team, so we are stuck playing the 15 other teams in our conference. And then a conference tournament at the end of the season to crown a champion. I'm not sure there are other opportunities for us postseason. I'm trying to setup a scrimmage with a nearby team not in our conference that we've battled in travel ball in earlier years.

Also, Ohio has some funky rules and junior high teams are not allowed to compete or practice with high school teams during the season. Being 8th graders, we're stuck. Last year we were at least able to scrimmage our 8th grade team in practice a lot. Over this past summer our high school coach actually set us up to scrimmage a junior varsity team from another town and we beat them 42-10.

I think I'm going to have to get creative like Jeff was suggesting. Set certain goals for each possession or something.

We'll be challenged by a couple teams, but outside of that, we can probably choose the score to most of our games.


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PostPosted: 22 Nov 2017, 12:15 

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coachmt wrote:
My dilemma, and one we faced last year, was how do we get our top 7 good game minutes when we are blowing teams out almost everyday? We play 6 minute quarters and these girls are used to playing aau or travel ball with 20 minute halves or something like that. We had a game last year where we wanted to work on our press and it was 8-0 within 45 seconds and the other team never even crossed halfcourt. At that point we begin to look classless if we keep the pressure on much longer.


I didn't realize it was a jr. high team affiliated with a school so you really can't play up a level. Not sure how you get good game minutes for the top players in a situation like this, working on various skill sets in a game like Jeff mentioned is the best you can do. Even when you add challenges to your team, it can still be challenging to finesse things out on the court for both your players and the final score.

Is your team the only one with aau/club players? Wondering why the parity is so lopsided? Are there are other leagues (aau/club) going on simultaneously or are all aau/club players left with playing on their jr. high team as their only option this time of year? If these girls all feed into one high school, that should be one smoking team next year.

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PostPosted: 22 Nov 2017, 12:26 

Posts: 214
Coach Rob wrote:
coachmt wrote:
My dilemma, and one we faced last year, was how do we get our top 7 good game minutes when we are blowing teams out almost everyday? We play 6 minute quarters and these girls are used to playing aau or travel ball with 20 minute halves or something like that. We had a game last year where we wanted to work on our press and it was 8-0 within 45 seconds and the other team never even crossed halfcourt. At that point we begin to look classless if we keep the pressure on much longer.


I didn't realize it was a jr. high team affiliated with a school so you really can't play up a level. Not sure how you get good game minutes for the top players in a situation like this, working on various skill sets in a game like Jeff mentioned is the best you can do. Even when you add challenges to your team, it can still be challenging to finesse things out on the court for both your players and the final score.

Is your team the only one with aau/club players? Wondering why the parity is so lopsided? Are there are other leagues (aau/club) going on simultaneously or are all aau/club players left with playing on their jr. high team as their only option this time of year? If these girls all feed into one high school, that should be one smoking team next year.


It was hard last year to even work on running a new set play or something because a lot of the defenders were so poor they were out of place to be properly screened or something like the play was designed for. Frustrating.

Our town is one of the few in our conference that has a youth travel program as opposed to just recreational ball for the younger kids. Pretty much everyone I know of plays for their school during the season, then branches out to club/aau after that for spring/summer/fall ball. All of my players do feed into one high school. I think I mentioned, I have been coaching this specific group since they were in 4th grade. Those year's of higher competitive experience have led to the lack of balance in our conference. The varsity coach has been working with them during the offseason since 5th grade and I've had 4-5 of them play in my AAU program since then as well. It's a special group and some of them played with the varsity a little this summer. The varsity coach introduced me to the lead scout from the D2 women's national champions over the summer by saying, "This is Mike. He's the one who has been coaching that group I was just telling you about, the best group we're ever going to have come through this program."

So there's that. (Sorry, I love this team so much, I sometimes get carried away with talking about them)


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PostPosted: 22 Nov 2017, 12:46 

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Hey, I get it. Always rewarding to see you've had a part in something special like that. Wait until they start playing high school ball and you get to watch a few games. My line is always, "Remember me when you're rich and famous, plus I want front row seats!"

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