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PostPosted: 01 Nov 2018, 09:07 

Posts: 21
I’ve posted here before and the help has been tremendous. Thank you. I had tryouts this week and kept a team of 14, basically I didn’t cut anyone. Here’s the situation I have 1 good player and 4 solid players. I have my 6th man who is interchangeable with the 4 and 5 in there now skill wise they are only a little better.

Elsewhere on the bench, I have a post player who has been working really hard and a cc runner who can play defense on anyone dependably.

Everyone else has potential but raw and I don’t have time to teach fundamentals. How do I make the most out of practice? And when scrimmaging at least going over plays etc., I want the starting 5 to gel and put in the first 8 in as I need but the teams will be pretty unevenably matched? Does that matter? I’m hoping it makes them better?

Any advice?


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PostPosted: 02 Nov 2018, 06:52 
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My opinion is you always have time for fundamentals. And I think that is one of the most important things for a middle school coach to spend time on.

I have seen a number of "B" and "C" level middle school players go on to be really good varsity high school players. If their middle school coach or someone didn't help them with fundamentals, do you think they ever would have made varsity down the road?

Here's another piece of advice. If you were a player on the team, what would you want your coach to teach? What would you want your coach to do during practice?

Every coach has their own way of doing things. The majority of our practices at all levels (2nd grade to high school) is spent on skill development. We play 1v1 full court games... we're working on close outs, 1v1 defense, agility, condition, and dribble skills.

We run shooting and finishing drills that use a piece of our motion offense so they are practicing skills and learning a piece of offense at the same time.

No matter what level I coach, we have 3 simple BLOBs, 1 or 2 very simple called plays, and motion offense. Our motion takes about 20 minutes to teach. The rest of the motion learning is based on skills and fundamental offensive concepts.

We play a lot of small sided games that incorporate skill development and learning of the game.

We focus on character development great man to man defense, rebounding, skill development, a simple motion offense, and get good at a couple simple BLOB plays and defending BLOBs. Those areas give you the highest return on your time investment and allow you to develop kids at the same time.

What I do might not work for you... everyone has their own way of doing things. But if you're asking what I do, that's exactly how I would handle things with a middle school team like that.

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PostPosted: 02 Nov 2018, 07:43 

Posts: 21
This is great. Thank you. I think I misspoke. I am being told by others I don’t have time to teach fundamentals but the above is exactly along the lines of what I was thinking of working with etc. below is my biggest problem: what if I have players who don’t even know the rules. Who still try to walk with the ball etc (like literally pick up the ball and walk with it to pass it)

I want to foster everyone’s skills it’s middle school

I do have a couple of kids that truly have never played before and they are still learning the very basics like double dribbling etc. what should I do with those players? They are getting confused and I am trying to get the caught up the best I can.


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PostPosted: 02 Nov 2018, 13:33 

Posts: 893
I know this is a moot point now, but why 14 players? Why no cuts? Taking on a team with six decent players, six developing players, and 2 that have never played is quite a challenge. It presents certain challenges like you're describing in the post. It also makes playing time in games a lot more challenging. I doubt this is possible but could you have two teams and grab another coach to help?

Out of the gate, I would enlist the help of a few other assistants; I think you're going to need it. You don't have a choice but to teach fundamentals if you want something that looks like basketball out on the court. You'll have to assess what skills the developing players need, pick your poison regarding which ones are most important and carve out time for those in practice. It's almost like you need to view the practice as a mini-camp of sorts with stations for them (e.g., dribbling station, passing station).

It would take more of your time, but you could offer weekend skill sessions for the developing players. The other thing I would make mandatory is giving the players "homework" after practice so they can practice on their own at home. Could be as simple as dribbling for 5 minutes with their head up.

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PostPosted: 03 Nov 2018, 18:29 

Posts: 21
Thank you for the above post. You’re right it is a challenge and I’m not a new coach. But boy do does it feel like it right now. They asked me not to cut unless it was a. Over 15 or b. Just blatant reasons for not being on the team.

It’s s new program and they are having a lot of trouble getting kids to do athletics so I think that was their reasoning.

I do have one asst coach who can be there MWF and another that can be there more regularly once he gets his other Rec schedule. I think I am going to have to hold weekend clinics - it doesn’t bring me a lot of joy as a mother of 4 lol but it’s necessary.

This is kinda off topic but is there a good resource for subbing - believe it or not our first game is next Thursday and there are no time constraints and I don’t have to play everyone. But I am in a real bind there. Generally I’d make a list and then work my practice around those different match ups. Idk it’s a real mess.


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PostPosted: 05 Nov 2018, 15:57 

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It appears the spirit behind forming your middle school team is one of encouraging all kids to play. Which would translate into getting playing time for everyone on the team unless I'm missing something? If they're leaving that up to you, you'll have to decide how competitive you want to be in games. Trying to be competitive and get enough playing time for 14 kids is above most coach's pay grade. ;)

I'd explain to the players and parents that you have kids who've never played basketball and are still developing. You will do your best to get playing time for the players in games, but that will be up to your discretion. Thanks for your understanding, no cuts, 14 players, yadda, yadda, you get the idea.

There aren't many resources on subbing other than picking a strategy and philosophy, testing them, and modifying as you go along. I'm assuming you're trying to be somewhat competitive in these games, so I'd pair up some stronger players with developing players in the game when possible. Probably not a bad idea to have someone track playing time to make sure you do not forget players. If you see opportunities on the court to match up developing player's skill levels during a game, I would do that when possible. If you can get up on a team with your stronger players in a short amount of time, I'd do that when I could to give you some breathing room. Maybe one game is more competitive which equals less playing time for the developing players, but the next game is more relaxed so you give them more playing time in that game.

On a side note, after the season ends, I'd get with the powers that be and talk about the program and how it's organized. Maybe there's a way to hold camps or clinics in the summer to see who's interested. At best, the program should allow for a separation of players according to skill level, just to make it fair for the coaches and players. I'd also discuss tightening up the tryout criteria. There's a reason teams usually only have 8-10 players on them, to make this doable and fun for everyone involved.

Last question, are you going to be competing against other middle schools in the same boat? If so, I'd call some of those coaches and see what they're doing regarding managing 14 players on their teams.

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