The Breakthrough Basketball Newsletter for Coaches -- Issue #18: December 4, 2008

NEW Youth Coaching Articles

Could 3 on 3 Basketball Be the Best for Youth Players?

Shooting: 3 Things Youth Coaches & Players Need to Adjust

NEW Motion Offense Articles

Motion Offense - Questions & Answers

Motion Offense - Getting Post Players the Ball

NEW Videos & Drills

Shooting Drill Video - Reverse Shots

Two Ball Shooting Drill

End of Game Drill - Great way to end practice & improve your players' confidence in the clutch!

NEW Foul Shot Plays

Two Fast Break Offenses off of the Foul Shot

Foul Shot - Tip-In Plays

Breakthrough Basketball Product Reviews

Customers have the ability to add reviews to our website so everyone can making informed decisions before they buy. If you have purchased any of our products, please add your reviews...

Or if you're curious about what people are saying about our products, check out the reviews here...

60 Fun Basketball Drills

Motion Offense - How To Build High-Scoring Offense

Developing Man to Man Defense

Basketball Shooting Guide and Drills

Let us know if you have any comments or questions...


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Joe Haefner says:
1/3/2009 at 9:19:26 AM

Hi John,

If you do not come to practice, you put yourself above the team and I would not consider this person to be serious about the team. For me, it's pretty simple, if you don't come to practice, you don't play. If they miss a lot of practices, they are not a part of the team.

For basketball drills, check out this link:


John says:
1/2/2009 at 10:11:31 AM

What do you do about guys that do not come to practice and are seriuous about the team?

DO you have any drills for defense, passing, and rebounding.


Babu Kunju says:
12/14/2008 at 10:02:13 AM

can you pls send some drills for young basktball learners through PDF format????


Joe Haefner says:
12/7/2008 at 1:15:31 PM

Hi Coach Jackson,

First of all, I would advise to find another league that does not allow trapping and pressing. Youth players have far more important to learn. For more on this, you could visit:

In the past, I've used a 2-1-2 formation against the half-court press. Two guards in the back court. One player a little bit past half court and above the top of the key and two players on opposite wings. The two players in the back court pass it back and forth a few times to get the press moving side to side to open up gaps.

After a couple of passes, they either try to enter the ball to the player in the middle or one of the two players on the wings. If the guards can break the press with the dribble, that's okay as well. Unless, you have a really good point guard this can difficult to do.

If the ball goes to the middle, the player secures the ball and looks to the wings to start a 2-on-1 advantage. If that is not open, the player should hold the ball calmly and look to pass the ball to one of the guards and set up the offense.

If the ball is passed straight to the wings, they look to attack the basket.

Another way to beat the pressure is to fast break after missed shots and made baskets, so the defense doesn't have time to set up.


coach jackson says:
12/7/2008 at 10:21:53 AM

i''''''''m looking for info on plays to beat a 2-2-1 half court press,i coach 8-10yo''''''''s and teams like to send 2 players up to half court to kinda press us.any one can reply. thankx


Kenny says:
12/6/2008 at 7:55:53 PM

Thanks Jeff, and the rest of you guys/gals for the advice. I will try different ideas and see what happens. Thanks again.


Jeff Haefner says:
12/6/2008 at 7:24:01 AM


You are in a very difficult situation. I have been in a very similar situation. Looking back, I don’t think I handled the situation very well. I never was able to get aligned with the troubled players with bad attitudes.

I don’t know the true personalities of the kids you are working with and I suppose those details matter. So take my suggestions with a grain of salt. Many times it all depends on the specific kids in question.

From what I hear, it sound like the only way to handle this is “outside” of basketball. Clearly those two players have had a tough up bringing. They have terrible attitudes and no doubt that being teenagers makes things worse.

It’s obvious those players are not helping the rest of your team. But the truth is that those two players probably need more help in their life than the rest of your team combined.

Truthfully, if they don’t care about basketball, there’s nothing you can do in the context of practice. If they don’t care and don’t want to be there, you have lost almost all your leverage and influence.

Usually, basketball coaches have lots of influence on their players because players want to be there. They dream about basketball and coaches usually have tremendous influence. This situation might be different. Why are those kids really there? Do you truly know why they are there?

Here are just some thought provoking ideas on things you might be able to do “outside” of basketball to bring these kids around:

- Try to develop relationships with these kids outside of basketball. If you can develop a trusting relationship, then they might actually be able to sit down with these kids and explain why their actions in practice are not acceptable and why their actions hurt everyone on the team.
- Participate in other things these kids are interested in. What do they like outside of basketball? If they skate board, watch them at their skate board competition. Genuinely help them out as human beings. Show you care. This can go a long way in your influence.
- Have separate practices with just those two players to build them up and develop good behavior. This can be risky but in some situations, it could help.
- Help them get involved in another activity that you think they would really enjoy and benefit from them. Help them for no particular reason or ulterior motive.

Ultimately, if you can get aligned with these players and truly find out why they are acting this way, maybe you can get them to change their behavior. That’s the challenge. They probably won’t tell you truly what’s going on in their life until you develop a trusting relationship with them outside of basketball.

Hopefully, they can learn that they are in control of their life and there are better ways to get what they want. Here’s a good article for players. Maybe you can copy it into Word and print it for them (so they don’t see these posts about them).

You might not have time to do all these things I suggest. It’s not an easy thing to do and you can’t help everyone. All you can do is try your best.

Also, when you’re in practice, remember to use the “sandwich technique”. First you compliment them, then tell them what they did wrong and what they need to do to correct it, then follow with another compliment.

For example, "Way to hustle back on defense, John. When trying to take a charge, make sure to get there a split second earlier, otherwise they''''ll call the foul on you if you''''re still moving. Keep playing hard. Great job."

I learned the sandwich technique from Morgan Wooten. But I’ve also seen this same concept reinforced in child development books. In parenting books, they call it the “2 for 1 rule”. For every negative response you make in your disciplinary role, make two other positive responses to the child in the next half hour.

The experts claim (and they are right) that it’s too easy for adults to constantly correct children and occasionally discipline them. Adults think this will change their behavior. However, the opposite is true! The relationship starts to suffer and the adult actually ends up with less influence. The less positive the relationship becomes, the less the child is inclined to listen and do what the parent or adult wants.

Parents and coaches forget to compliment the good things they do. They just take that stuff for granted. This is called positive reinforcement. It’s usually not done enough!

I don’t think you should condone their terrible attitudes. They are only hurting themselves and at some point they need to learn some life lessons. But maybe the sandwich technique will get them to respond better.

Hope this helps and good luck!


Kenny R says:
12/5/2008 at 4:01:02 PM

Thanks guys for the input. For Kidd:
1. No. They do not even seem to care about basketball, but I am the only coach that is willing to put up with them.
2. No. The Parents don't even come to the games or practices.
3. No. A good example. We were working on Ball Side/Help Side defense by using the Shell Drill (Defense). I put one of the two players in question on my team and the other player on the offensive side. The minute I tried to correct his defensive stance, he started getting upset and got into a lazy defensive stance. Like "I am going to show the coach I don't care." Then he wanted to call his mom. I was like ????

4. To be honest, I feel like I am cheating my other players. Because they show up on time. Or if they are late, the make up by going all out in practice. They run their extra laps/pushups or whatever, without complaining. They are coachable. And I feel like when I have to talk to the two players, I am cheating the rest of the team.

5. Probably. But it is Recreation basketball; all kids have to play if they sign up. Plus, I am limited with players. I have a roster of 9, but only 6-7 kids show up...and those two are apart of the 6-7 that show up.

Thanks Joe, I will do my best. I will just teach a skill, do a drill, and move on. I just get tried of the "I don't care" attitude. The other day in practice we were doing a layup drill, these two players were throwing the ball at the rim! They are 8th graders, very smart, and very capable of doing a decent layup. I am not asking for a finger roll layup at the rim. I am asking for a basic layup.... and they were out there playing around. And then come game day and we lose by 20-30 pts, the two players are the first to complain about the loss. "I didn't get a shot" "They did not pass the ball to me." I am telling you, it is a rough buisness.


Joe Haefner says:
12/4/2008 at 7:15:04 PM

Hi Kenny,

I would avoid trying to teach too many plays, especially in-depth plays. When I coached, I used to run plays and patterned offenses. I noticed after 3 or 4 passes, the kids would freeze up, because they couldn't remember what to do. As a result, we wasted hours in practice when we could have been working on fundamentals. Even the smartest kids had this problem. Instead, I would teach them how to play. Teach them how to cut, teach them how read a screen, teach them proper spacing, teach them skills, etc., so it doesn't matter what coach or offense they have when they are older.

As for the two kids, do your best. you have to also understand that they may have issues outside of basketball, and you should try to make the experience as fun as possible. Be patient and try to help them. Who cares if they never play at the high school level. Coaching is more than x's & o's and wins & losses. It's about making the kids better people.

A little tip with youth players, don't do anything for too long. They lose focus. I try not to do half-court drills any longer than 5 minutes and I try to keep full court drills under 10 minutes. Teach a skill, do a drill, and move on.


Joe Haefner says:
12/4/2008 at 7:07:12 PM

Hi Brian,

The elbow is where the free throw line meets the lane line.

For the shooting issue, I would advise to either use a player who uses really good form or take Kidd's advice on bringing an older player or friend in to help.


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