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PostPosted: 26 Jun 2020, 01:06 

Posts: 1
I am coaching 3/4 grade boys and I was wondering if anybody wanted to weigh in on my thought process regarding my defensive coaching plan.

Practices are 1 hour. We have had two practices so far, and almost all of that time I have spent on teaching passing, dribbling, pivot footwork and shooting layups. (lots of dribbling and layups) I don't know when our first game is yet, but I plan to continue the heavy focus on offensive skills. At some point I will go over offensive spacing, layout the 5 spots for our open post, pass and cut offense, and run them through it on air a little bit.

I plan to focus heavily on one on one, man to man defense. We will do a lot of one on one drills. Focusing on footwork, beating your man to the spot, etc. I am giving slight thought to incorporating some ball denial drills into this, where a coach has the ball at the point and the defender must deny a pass to the offense on the wing. Maybe even having the coach dribble to the opposite wing and teaching the defender to see man, see ball and point the pistols.

WOuld you start off the ball defense earlier?

PostPosted: 26 Jun 2020, 06:09 
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Good question. It sounds like you have a really good plan to get those players started off on the right foot!

Regarding defensive priorities, I started with this order (and would probably do the same if working with 3/4 grade again):
1) On ball defense (constant ball pressure staying between your man and the basket... footwork, etc)
2) Basic help defense... my rule for the 4 other players was to keep the ball as far from the basket as possible. always be in a position to keep the ball away from the basket. we used that rule to teach players where to be whether 1, 2, or 3 passes away. kept it very simple by using common sense (where do I need to be so I can help keep the ball from driving to the basket yet still be closing enough to get back to my man? the answer to that question was usually 1/2 between my man and the ball.) Keep it simple, be half way between your man and the ball and don't let the ball get close to the basket.
3) BLOB defense (don't chase cutters away from the basket, protect the basket, on ball defense needs to see court and help protect or be at correct angle on the ball)
4) Defending ball screens

For me, that's as far as I got for this age level. That was plenty! In any case, here are next priorities whether it's 3rd grade or it takes 9th grade to get to this point:

5) Boxing out
6) Post defense
7) Close outs (this could be included under "on ball" defense... but I don't think we worked on it too much this first year or two)
8) One pass away denial
8) defending off ball screens
9) full court defense
10) zone defense (for advanced teams ready to learn those concepts)

With that said, I might move up post defense if that's something really causing problems. We also emphasize a lot of hustle concepts and fundamental concepts from the beginning... standard things like...
- move on the flight of the ball... right as it leaves passer finger tips
- stay down in defensive stance
- communicate (call out who has ball on close outs and who you are guarding every time time down the court)
- always see your man and the ball

I had a lot of success with the plan not only for player development but also winning games too. (even though that was much lower on my priority list... we still did try to win).

I started with my own kids teams in 2nd.3rd grade. We progressed through these steps and my girls got to zone defense by 7th/8th grade... right around there... just basic concepts and we ran zone maybe 10-20% of time. My boys progressed slower in the defensive concepts because they did not listen as good as the girls. And they had more bad habits to deal with from playing on other teams.

Jeff Haefner

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