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PostPosted: 15 Jan 2018, 23:28 

Posts: 3
Hey, everybody!!

Starting this week, I'll be assisting my sister as she coaches her twin daughters on their school's 6th grade season. We coached the team together last year.

I've been coaching on and off since the 1980s -- in fact, I got my start in 1984 when I coached Sis on HER 3rd-4th grade rec team (I'm 16 years older than her) -- so it's fun to help coach her kids too. Sis became a very very good player, one of the best in her school's history (she held the career assist and FT percentage records when she graduated). I moved back to my hometown last year so finally I got a chance to help out.

She uses many or most of the same plays and principles she learned from ME years and years ago. One of the basic principles is to play a very high intensity, high pressure defense and fast breaking offense.

But ... we have a problem. Last season the school had two teams with a total of 19 players. This included four super-great travel team players who played for the OTHER team (they took turns skipping school team games to go play in travel tourneys.)

Our team had no travel-team players, although six of our 10 players played in a regional semi-travel league so we had some talent too. Sis's twins are two of the better players, the best PG and a lockdown defending 2/3.

The other team with the super travel players stormed through the league 10-0 and then advanced to the championship finals of the tournament. But the day of the title game three of the four travel players had to go play in a travel tourney, so they ended up losing by 1, ending the season 12-1.

Our team ended up going 8-5, after starting the season 1-3. It was an OK season so we were pretty happy.

But, the problem is, THIS year, of the 19 players who played last year, only 8 or 9 are going to come out for the school team. Three moved away from the school, three are playing club volleyball, and the four travel players are going to play strictly club ball this year.

So anyway, bottom line is we will have one team, a roster of 8, maybe 9 players. This may present a problem because our philosophy has always to win with depth and endurance, come in with waves of subs and basically outlast the opponents.

But with 8 players (barring injury or illness absences), we probably won't out-depth anybody. All of a sudden fatigue and endurance may be a problem.

I guess the question is: what would you guys (gals) recommend? Keep up the high-pressure, high-speed running game, or go more to a ball-control scheme?

Our league allows zone, although we generally concentrate on high pressure halfcourt man-to-man. We did use a zone briefly last season (one of our players is a big, strong but slow center). We're thinking of switching to a matchup zone as a main defense, since in addition to fatigue, foul trouble could be a real killer with an 8-player roster.


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PostPosted: 16 Jan 2018, 17:54 
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Coach,

I think the answer depends on your primary goals? What is more important and your primary goal?

- winning
- or player development

If winning is most important, it's probably best to play quite a bit of zone defense and pressure when it makes tactical sense.

If player development is most important, then play at least 80% man to man defense, run motion offense, and spend the majority of time teach fundamental aspects they can apply to any coach/team in the future -- instead of spending time teaching players "your system". Spend as little time as possible on the "system stuff".

With youth teams we run all man to man defense, motion offense, and spend tons of time on player development. We mix in zone defense (20% of time) to learn the concepts and zone press when players are ready (7th grade for our club team). We never zone or press unless we play a good team that can handle it.. so we avoid learning bad defensive habits.

Even when we have 7 player roster, we play mostly man to man defense because that is developmentally appropriate way to do things in our opinion.
https://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/defense/age.html

We run and push tempo when it makes sense and we have enough players. But that is not a primary emphasis. Long term development and learning fundamentals that will help them in the future is what we emphasize. Fast break stuff is part of that puzzle and we try to work on it when possible. But it's only a small piece of the puzzle. Most good high school games are won in half court execution. So we work on half court execution (fundamental aspects of offense and defense) quite a bit.

Hopefully that helps a little bit. If you have other questions let us know.

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PostPosted: 16 Jan 2018, 22:18 

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I've run with eight before, and it's doable + fun. The downside (as you pointed out) is fatigue and foul trouble. The cool part about having fewer players is it presents an opportunity for weaker players to step up their game a notch. It naturally gives them more playing experience which might look a little ugly at first, but there's no better way to improve their game. It also allows for your team to gel more and get in a groove.

I'd look at this as a season for kids to get more play time experience. Do you see improvement in Suzie when the pressure hits? Is Sally blocking out more? Things like that vs. focusing on the final score.

You'd be surprised what kids are capable of when they're given the opportunity. When playing with eight, I had one out with an injury and two sick for a game. We ended up winning against an excellent team with only five players. Kids were exhausted, but happy. Also ended up in games with only four players at the end due to foul trouble.

I found that having practice plans for eight, seven and six players was a must. It helped to have go to drills when kids were out for practice vs. trying to shoehorn a drill designed for ten players into one for seven. If you can snag some siblings for practice, that will help even the numbers out.

I based my game philosophy on the team we were playing and the players I had for that game. If pressure defense wasn't going to yield more points or turnovers and only wear out my players faster, we held off that game. I'd take it game by game and see what's working, then go with it.

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PostPosted: 17 Jan 2018, 22:03 

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Coach Rob wrote:
I've run with eight before, and it's doable + fun. The downside (as you pointed out) is fatigue and foul trouble. The cool part about having fewer players is it presents an opportunity for weaker players to step up their game a notch. It naturally gives them more playing experience which might look a little ugly at first, but there's no better way to improve their game. It also allows for your team to gel more and get in a groove.

I'd look at this as a season for kids to get more play time experience. Do you see improvement in Suzie when the pressure hits? Is Sally blocking out more? Things like that vs. focusing on the final score.

You'd be surprised what kids are capable of when they're given the opportunity. When playing with eight, I had one out with an injury and two sick for a game. We ended up winning against an excellent team with only five players. Kids were exhausted, but happy. Also ended up in games with only four players at the end due to foul trouble.

I found that having practice plans for eight, seven and six players was a must. It helped to have go to drills when kids were out for practice vs. trying to shoehorn a drill designed for ten players into one for seven. If you can snag some siblings for practice, that will help even the numbers out.

I based my game philosophy on the team we were playing and the players I had for that game. If pressure defense wasn't going to yield more points or turnovers and only wear out my players faster, we held off that game. I'd take it game by game and see what's working, then go with it.



Well, as Gomer Pyle might say, SURPRISE SURPRISE SURPRISE!!

We had our first practice of the season yesterday and a couple rather shocking surprises: One of the super-travel players did come out and another girl new to the school, who played travel ball the last 3 years, came out too, so it looks like we will have a roster of 10 players, so as Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say, "Neverrr Mind!!"

We'll have 10 players, of whom 8 are very fast and very good athletes, so we'll go back to our high-speed, high-pressure, hockey-substitution philosophy.

Some teams with a roster of 10 just break into two squads and have each squad play two quarters, but we do it differently: in the first half we play squads, subbing 5 players at a time at the middle of each quarter, then in the second half we go to wave substitution, with 1-2 new players coming in at each buzzer, so we can use different player combinations.


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PostPosted: 18 Jan 2018, 21:38 

Posts: 899
Heck yeah! You take that when you can get it. I'm more a wave subber the whole game, but it sounds like you have it under control.

Good luck and keep us posted on the season!

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