Coaches... be sure to see the complete list of coaching articles in the Playbook index.
Coaching Kids and Working with ParentsI have gotten lots of questions from coaches and parents about coaching youth basketball, and advice for coaching youngsters, let's say 1st through 6th grades... elementary school children. You are probably a parent coach, a teacher-coach, a former player, or just someone who likes kids and wants to help coach and work with a bunch of kids. You may be organizing a recreational league or a church league, or are developing a program at your elementary school.
Some of the kids may have played some, and some have never played before. Some are there because they already love the game, and some are there because of their friends. Some were urged by their parents to give it a try.
Their parents will likely have varying perspectives. A few will think you should win every game at whatever cost, and will be yelling advice from the sidelines. Some will be thankful and happy that their child is on your team. Some will be a little fearful that you may yell at their child, or that their child may not be a good player and will embarrass him/herself.
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So what advice do I give you?
First, make it fun for the kids. Do not yell negative things at them as this embarrasses them in front of their friends, and is actually counter-productive creating more stress and more mistakes. It makes you look like a bully, and you may completely turn the player away from ever wanting to play again. You can yell, but it should always be positive comments. If a player messes up, don't embarrass him/her in front of his/her friends. For example, if someone is having trouble with a certain skill or drill, rather than pointing the finger at him, blow the whistle and say, "Some of you are having trouble doing... blah, blah, blah... let me show you how to do this." So maintain a positive attitude, even if you are losing by 30 points.
Teach good sportsmanship by your example... no yelling at the refs, no demeaning the other team, other players, etc. Teach them to play hard, but do not allow "dirty" play or trash talking. Teach them to respect their opponents and the officials. Wins and losses are not important at this age. Teach them that you don't have to win a trophy to be a winner.
Also, let the kids know that it is OK to make mistakes, that you expect them to make mistakes. Basketball is not a perfect game. All players make mistakes, even Michael Jordan. Coaches make mistakes, and we all know that the refs make mistakes! You just have to keep playing hard and learn from those errors. "A good garden may have a few weeds."
If you have an actual team (not a large clinic-type group), teach them about teamwork and their responsibilities to the team... coming to practice, encouraging each other, helping each other, etc.At the first practice, provide a handout for the players and their parents. This handout could contain some of the following items:
When dealing with parents, be honest and open and show them that you really care about helping their child... get them on your side. Make yourself available to talk with them after a game. Be diplomatic about any "coaching" advice they have to offer. Rather than getting into an argument with them, just politely thank them for their interest... you obviously don't need to follow their advice, but you also don't have to be snotty about it either! Remember that most parents are good people who care about their kids and just want what's best for them, just like all of us do. Do not simply choose to ignore parents. You may be able to get away with this if you are coaching at the college level, but it is still churlish, inconsiderate behavior. When coaching youth basketball, even at the high school level, parents can help make or break you... believe it!
If you have a son/daughter on the team... be fair. Do not give your own child more playing time than the others. Treat your child like any other player on the team... do not over-criticize and expect more from him/her. And don't provide him/her any special treatment either. When you are at the court, he/she is like any other player on the team. Away from the court, he/she is your special child and needs your love and support, not criticism... save any criticism or advice for when you are actually in the gym... kids don't even want to hear about it in the car on the way home. My daughter sure didn't!
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Coach's Clipboard Deluxe Basketball Coaching CD
This is the complete collection of all Coach's Clipboard files on CD. This unique basketball CD was designed for youth through high school level coaches, and cannot be found in stores. The CD includes the Basketball Playbook and Animated Diagrams, with all of the plays, drills, offenses, defenses, video clips (in a widely-compatible Flash format), and more. Free downloadable upgrades for one year! More information, contents...
3-2 Motion Offense (keep this very simple!)
4-Out Motion Offense (keep this very simple!)
1-3-1 Motion #1
1-3-1 Motion #2
1-3-1 Motion #3
Learning How to Shoot
2-Man Shooting Drills
Screen, Pick Drills
Good luck! Have fun and don't forget the pizza!
Again, with youngsters, do about 90 minutes. You can have both girls and boys doing this clinic. In the clinic setting, you should teach individual player skills... save team concepts, offensive sets, plays, zones, etc for their team coaches. You need to teach them correct fundamentals and still make it fun for them.
Spend about 10-15 minutes on stationary ball-handling and dribbling drills. Get them all in one big circle, spread out, with the instructor in the center of the circle. Each player has a ball. The instructor goes through the ball-handling drills and dribbling drills and the players follow his example, doing the same drill the instructor is doing. Since I am getting older and am not as skilled as I was years ago, I have one of our excellent high school players do the ball-handling and dribbling demonstrations... they are heroes to the kids! Have a couple coaches walk around the circle helping kids who are having difficulty.
Then, spend five minutes on sideline dribbling drills.
A quick trip to the drinking fountain... then full-court dribble moves drill.
Play a couple quick games of dribble tag.
Do 5-10 minutes of two-man passing drills... the chest pass, bounce pass and overhead pass. Demonstrate correct technique... step into the pass, hands on both sides of the ball, snap the pass finishing with the thumbs pointing down.Work on lay-ups, demonstrating correct footwork. Split them into two groups (equal talent) with a group on each basket. Each group makes two lines (shooters and rebounders) along the sidelines. Start with right-handed lay-ups. When you say "go" each group starts doing lay-ups, with the shooters going to the end of the rebounding line and the rebounders going to the end of the shooting line. Every time a lay-up is made, that group yells the count (the number they have made). First team to 10 wins... the losers have to do five push-ups and the winners get to count for them. You can have similar competitions shooting short shots in the paint area. Here's a variation the kids love... they are all on the same team. Have a shooting line starting in the center of the free throw line area, and a rebounding line near the basket. The rebounder will pass it to the first person in the shooting line, who steps in to about the hash marks (depends on the age) and shoots. The kids yell out their number of baskets each time one is made. You give them a time limit and a goal of how many shots they must make in that time period (adjust this based on their skill level and so every player gets to shoot at least twice). If you have a big group, you may want to run this on each end of the floor. Make it challenging for them. If they fail to make the goal in the allotted time, they all have to do five push-ups. Now here's the part they love... if they succeed in "beating the clock", then the coaches all have to do five push-ups! They love counting for you when you are doing your push-ups.
Use your imagination... you can create other little games for them.
Spend the last 15-20 minutes scrimmaging... man-to-man defense, no full-court pressing. Divide the talent equally and don't have the same kids on the same team each week... mix them up. When you have both girls and boys, I have found that it is best to split them up and have the girls scrimmage on one end (use the side baskets) and the boys on the other. When playing together, some boys will never pass to the girls and the girls get upset and frustrated. So if you have enough players, let the girls have their own game.
At the end of practice, get them all in the huddle and tell them how well they are doing, and advise them to do dribbling and ball-handling every day at home for ten minutes. Then everybody puts there hands together and yells your school mascot name-- like "Rayders!!!"
Coaching Youth Basketball
Many more basketball DVDs at the Coach's Clipboard Basketball DVD Store! This page lists and categorizes a number of DVDs dedicated to youth basketball and player development. These educational videos focus on the basic fundamentals of the game. Instruction starts with beginning fundamentals and teaching progresses in easy to follow steps. These DVDs-tapes are excellent for the coach and athlete at the middle school, junior high school and early high school level. Categories included are: Cutting and Passing, Defense, Dribbling, Drills, Guard Play, Offense, Post Play, and Shooting.