When working with young players ranging from 5 to 16 years old, we think it's important for you to run an offense that allows players to DEVELOP and improve their skills.
Some offenses are suited extremely well for development and some are not.
Here are some tips to help you improve the skills and development of your players...
1 - Put Players in ALL Offensive Positions
There's a saying that "the center of today is the point guard of tomorrow". To help players maximize their development, it's important for players to get an opportunity to play all positions (inside and outside). Too often, you see big kids stuck in the post and they never leave. These players often struggle at the varsity level because they "stopped growing" and have no skills on the perimeter.
Not to mention, some offenses require guards to post up and some offenses require post players to catch and handle the ball on the perimeter. If you want to develop more VERSATILE players, they need experience in all positions. You never know what offense they will be running in the future.
So for example, in the Flex offense, all players get post up and perimeter opportunities. If you run a motion offense, design your motion offense so all players get opportunities to touch the ball in the post and on the perimeter.
2 - Teach Offensive Concepts like Spacing, Reading Screens, and Ball Reversals
I think it's important for players to learn fundamental offense concepts. They should learn how to set and read screens. They should learn how to set and read ball screens. They should learn how to cut, change speed, and get open. They should learn proper spacing, the importance of player movement, and the importance of ball movement.
When you choose your offense and work with your players, I think it's important to keep these things in mind. By learning these concepts, players will get better and their potential will go way up.
Not all offenses allow you to develop players in these areas. I believe this is a consideration you should make when choosing and constructing your offense.
3 - Allow Players to "Play"
Giving players opportunities to read screens, read situations, and make decisions is incredible for their development!
I think a very structured and rigid offense can be counterproductive for young players. You might win a few games now. But the long term development of these players will be slowed and their potential will be limited.
No matter what offense you choose or run, I think those are three important considerations for all coaches. Even varsity high school coaches need to be developing their sophomores and juniors so they can reach their potential as seniors.
So what should you do?
With our teams, we like to run the motion offense because we feel that it develops the best basketball players in regards to skill development and basketball intelligence regarding offensive concepts. We prefer to implement the concepts and strategies explained in the How to Develop a High Scoring Motion Offense.
But if you prefer a little more structure, you could also use the flex offense. Just make sure to teach the motion principles and counters, so the players don't just run a pattern and turn into robots. Don Kelbick does a great job of teaching motion principles with the Flex Offense in his Hybrid Flex Offense DVD.
What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...