After hitting publish on my last post, I realized there were a few things that were left out.
First of all, some coaches would look at a group of kids and decide right away who could play and who could not. And then manage the team accordingly. Make sure the talented kids got the ball all of the time and found ways to keep the others away from the play.
These coaches were more worried about their own records.
The problem with that approach is these kids are there to play a game they love. They all picture themselves doing something great on the court. Why deny them that chance?
I think grown-ups forget that childhood is a finite time period. You can be an adult for decades but you can only be a kid for a very short amount of time. I think anyone who doesn’t understand that has no business working with kids.
Also, there is the matter of how kids grow physically. Not all grow at the same rate. The shortest kids might wind up being taller by high school than the tallest kids on the 3rd grade team. So, if you tell the tallest kids to stand by the basket all game every game and let the small kids handle the ball all the time you could be ruining both careers. For example, the tall kid who never leaves the basket area, by high school might not be more than 6 feet tall. That is the height of a guard. But he has spent the last several years standing under the basket. He can’t dribble or pass because his coaches never taught him those skills. They taught him enough to handle the limited role they gave him.
Here is what we did.
Every practice, we scrimmaged for about 45 minutes of the hour allotted. During that time we encouraged all the kids to take turns bringing the ball up the court. We never taught any plays. THIS IS IMPORTANT. We ran a motion offense in which the players and the ball kept moving . It meant that the other team had to guard all five positions not just one or two.
We also had a rule about shooting the ball.
If you are open, and no teammate closer to the basket is open, and you are in your range as a shooter, SHOOT THE BALL. All shots following those guidelines are good shots. I would explain that we are not playing soccer. A lot of points would be scored. So shoot.
Now before I get fitted for a halo here, I will mention that talking to the refs was the one area where I needed work. No profanity on my part, but I did try to help them when I could. I wouldn’t allow the kids to disrespect the refs. Or complain about calls. During our scrimmages, I never wore a whistle. Rarely called a foul. I wanted them to play through anything that came up.
My favorite part of practice was near the end when with a minute or two left, I would yell out, “Next basket wins.” It was amazing to watch kids who might have been acting tired all of a sudden perk up..Some of the best basketball our teams played was in those frantic minutes. It also turned out to be great training for the end of real games.
One other thing we did since there were usually 10 kids on a team, was divide them into two groups of five each. They practiced and they played on Saturday in those groups. It made the time equal out.
I strongly encourage anyone to coach kids. I miss it every time basketball season rolls around.
Next week, the Friday Potpourri might re-appear. Until then.