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PostPosted: 23 Mar 2014, 09:41 

Posts: 2
Hello to all

I'm from Perth in Western Australia. I have just finished coaching my first season of junior basketball, ages 7-9 y/o boys team.

I wanted to ask - what are your thoughts on how to teach skilled and non-skilled players on the same team?

My team was made up of boys who had very different skill sets and experience. A few were good all round. Only 1 player had proper shooting form. A couple were better dribblers than others. Some just didn't have any coordination at all.

What I found very quickly is that it was difficult to balance out the drills so that every player on the team got something out of them. The drills were either too easy for the skilled players, or too difficult for the non-skilled players. When playing an end of game match, the skilled players were too easily dominating the non-skilled, making for a very uneven game. This left me wondering if anybody was getting something out of playing. I had a mixture of skill levels on either team to balance this out, of course.

Plus, it was difficult to teach too much in only 1 hour per week. Between shooting, passing, dribbling, footwork, defence awareness, offense awareness, movement etc I just didn't know how to teach the players in a way that everybody got something out of it. I probably should have planned a few practices ahead, and rolled out a system of drills progressively over those few weeks. I might try that this season.

Any thoughts on how I could better plan my practices for the forthcoming season, to cater for different levels of skill in a short amount of time? For a team that is made up of widely different skill levels, would you suggest single-purpose or multi faceted drills? Should I separate and train different skill level groups at a time?

I need advice before the new season begins in 4 weeks time. Thank you.

PostPosted: 23 Mar 2014, 17:33 
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Posts: 3139
One thing I learned my first year at the high school level, coaching football from the head Freshman coach.... work on fundamentals early... you will be a little behind early but it will be the best for your kids in the long run.

Dont worry about separating the really good ones from he bad ... put them all toether and they will learn. Your job right now is to teach them fundamentals, and let them have some fun..... get them ready to play at the next level.....

The biggest problem is the lack of practice time... so plan what you want / need to do wisely,

Good luck and have fun with them.

PostPosted: 23 Mar 2014, 18:26 

Posts: 2
Thanks Coach Sar

I understand that "skilled" is a broad term. Some players just had a higher or natural ability to learn how to pass, catch, and dribble etc. They are the ones I considered as skilled players. They are also the players who I could see getting a little annoyed during drills and games, at the lack of ability in the lesser skilled players.

I will happily teach any young player, who is willing to learn, the basics and fundamentals of this game.

I was concerned that because some players developed slower than others, it might have been impacting the development of the better players. This is why I was considering separating players into more skilled / less skilled.

Thanks for the advice.

PostPosted: 24 Mar 2014, 00:10 

Posts: 899
Tough spot, been there many times. The developmental leagues are challenging because you take all skill levels and usually have limited time. You'll drive yourself nuts trying to finesse the drills to fit the various skill levels. On one hand, some of the kids might get frustrated, on the other hand some of the kids might not improve if they're not challenged.

As a work around, I added something extra on drills for the more skilled players. When you plan your practices have a note next to some of the drills to challenge the better players. If it's a dribbling drill, maybe they have to dribble with their weak hand. Things like that. Assign homework for your developing players. Tell their parents it will help if Jimmy does a few ball handling skills at home. Remember to test them next practice.

Coach Sar is right, remember to keep it fun.


PostPosted: 24 Mar 2014, 07:16 
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Posts: 1247
Having varied skill levels is a challenge that most coaches face. I have that same challenge and it can be tough at times.

But there are things you can do. I think every coach needs to figure out their own way to deal with it depending on the situation. You need to consider confidence, player personalities, your goals as a coach and for the season, assistant coaches that are available, size of team, etc.

Sometimes I try to match up players based on ability, as I did recently during 1on1 Advancement Drill.

Also try to give everyone attention and do your best as coaches to give everyone some personal attention. During a drill you might work with an advanced player trying to help them improve their footwork on cross over. Another player might just need help figuring out what hand to dribble with. You just try to give each player some individual instruction based on what they need.

No matter what level you are at... you dribble, pass, shoot, rebounding, play defense, and use your feet. NBA players just dribble faster, with more length, and in tougher situations. Since the skills are essentially the same at all levels, that allows you to do the same drills and let each player go at their own rate. Here's an example of what I mean...

Stationary Continuous Cross Overs. Beginner player, goes fairly slow, just trying to keep the ball low and cross side to side without losing it. Experienced player, crosses with more speed/force, wider, lower, and without looking at the ball. Even the most experienced player can challenge them self if they go as fast, wide, and as low as they can.

You can also add rules and challenges for certain players. There are many examples. In the advantage 1on1 drill, sometimes I tell certain players they can only use their left hand. If we still can't find someone to stop them, we'll have them do 1 versus 2 defenders. There are hundreds of different ways you can add challenges to a drill.

Jeff Haefner

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