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And now for something completely different

 

Youth basketball

 

youth basketball

 

Over the past several months I’ve been having a running debate with myself as to whether or not I should write this article. Okay, I’ve written several self-indulgent articles, over the years and this would kind of be another one. I finally won the argument. I’m going to go ahead and write about my philosophy on youth sports teams and how to have success.

 

I’ve been a basketball coach for my two youngest kids. I’ve either been an assistant coach or a head coach for the past 10 years. Most of the time I found it fun, although, my teams never really did all that well. At least not for my oldest boy. The first year we went 0-9. We came close to winning a couple of game, but we always found a way to lose. The last year that I coached him, we went 4-7. As least he got to win some games.

 

Back then, my philosophy was to try to teach the kids the basics and see if they could run a simple play or two. I’d watch other coaches and their teams seem to improve quickly and continue to get better as the season went on. My teams struggled. I think I drafted better from season to season and that’s why we won games.

 

I had a couple of years off, in between kids. That gave me a chance to reflect on my coaching philosophy. My experience told me that kids that are 9-13 years old really can’t run a play. Certainly nothing overly complicated. I tried to teach them a play, so many times only to find out on game day that they couldn’t remember how to run the play. They couldn’t even remember that we had practiced a play.

 

I think that they just didn’t have to focus, at that age.

 

What happens, in my opinion, is that when they couldn’t run the play, that they just learned the night before, that the play kind of breaks down into playground basketball. I had to figure out a way to work with that phenomenon. I tried to fight it for years and that didn’t work. How could I use that fact to my advantage?

 

What was the key to winning when it breaks down into playground basketball? I figured that it came down to the kids working together, like a team.

 

That revelation changed everything.

 

i figured it out

 

I decided to come up with a defensive set that would force the kids to work together and when they were on offense they would still be working together and that would give us a chance to win. I came up with a zone press that I called the 3-1-1. It’s a mini press. I used 3 of my fastest kids with the best hands to press in the front court. I had 1 guy at mid court who would come up and help slow the flow down, when our opponents broke our press. I had 1 guy under our basket to defend, as a line of last defense.

 

When we had our practices, I made everyone wear a name tag. That helped me learn everyone’s name and the guys learned them quickly as well. I concentrated on free throw and lay ups. I tried to make that fun and competitive. I’d have contests to make everyone work as hard as they could. In the last 10 minutes or so, I’d let them play a game of knockout. Sometimes we’d scrimmage against each other. Anything that was useful, helpful or encouraged them to work as a team.

 

Once everyone got to know each other, they began to bond, as friends. That’s when the team work would kick in during the games. I never had a ball hog on my teams. I wouldn’t allow it. I knew we had it made when the best players were willing to share the ball with the guys that weren’t at their skill level. That’s when I knew we had a team.

 

Everything became much easier, when that happened. Practices got to be more about having fun and playing together.

 

As it turns out, we should’ve won the championship 3 years in a row. We had the team to win all 3 years in a row, but due to some mental errors, we only won 1.

 

My philosophy about youth sports is that being a team and working together is THE most important thing. I’ll let the other coaches try to teach their their teams plays and see how that works out for them.

 

I just wanted to write this so when my kids grow up and coach a youth basketball team, that they can find out what my philosophy was.

 

The title of this article is the title of an old Monty Python movie.

 

 

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