Don't teach ball screens to youth players?

Earlier this week, we released a brand new article and video breakdown from Brent Tipton on 5-out offense concepts used by the Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors.

At the end of the article, Brent Tipton touched on the topic of utilizing ball screens with youth players and tips for better offense and player development at the youth level...

Now keep in mind, Brent Tipton coaches at the prestigious Porsche Basketball Akademie in Germany.

Their goal is to develop youth players in the absolute best manner possible, so they have better professional teams.

Here's what Coach Tipton had to say:

In our club, we do not teach ball-screens under the age of 14.

We want players to become efficient 1v1 players first.

That way, your players don't become dependent on ball screens to create space at a young age. This can hinder their development of the necessary 1v1 skills to excel at the next level.

Well, how do you use concepts to encourage and teach 1v1 opportunities?

1v1 should not occur in isolation nor should the ball stick (one player holding on to the ball too long).

Your 12-14 year olds must use a concept like the away screen to create space on the catch to apply their 1v1 skills. If there is no space advantage after the away screen, then the ball must move to find and create the next advantage.

When a player comes off the away screen with no scoring advantage to shoot or drive, they must move the ball to the next offensive player to force off-ball defense to adjust. The initial advantage stops when the ball stops.

Teaching "first-touch" decisions to 12-14 year old players is vital to their development.

A "first-touch" decision is a decision a player makes immediately on the catch to shoot it, drive it, or pass it.

First touch decisions are one second decisions with no pause on the catch. Teaching your 12-14 year olds to make these quick decisions to shoot it, drive it, move it is the modern triple threat.

The old triple threat stalls ball movement and limits the time a player can use advantage. The modern triple threat teaches players to shoot it when they are open, drive it against an off-balanced defender, and pass it when they have no advantage or a teammate has a better scoring opportunity.

A player's first touch decision to shoot it, drive it, move it is at the foundation of all concepts a player 12-14 will use.

Joe here again! To summarize, one of the great benefits of focusing on the core concepts of spacing, cutting, and away screens within your youth offense... is that it forces your players to develop efficient 1v1 skills first before anything else.

The last thing you want is for your youth players to become too reliant on ball screens or other age-dependent tactics at a young age.

Because remember, even though it might help on the scoreboard in the short-term, it can become a dangerous crutch in the long-term.

With the 5-out offense, they'll still learn critical offensive concepts like cutting, away screens, and spacing, but they'll also innovate with their own moves to create scoring opportunities.

So if you're looking for the right balance between mastering foundational principles AND maximizing your players' creativity, then I'd definitely recommend giving the 5-out offense a try.

This is also a big reason why we save ball screens as one of the last “advanced” offensive progressions to install (if ever!) within our Youth Coaching System.


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