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Words of Advice
  • Look ahead when catching a pass, don't dribble immediately, someone could be open!

  • Teach young athletes man-to-man defense. Leave the zones alone!

  • Remember to box out your opponent on both ends of the floor.

  • Dribble with your head up, so you can see the floor and make a good pass.

  • Grab a defensive rebound and immediately look down the floor, you may be surprised at what you see.

  • When pressing, remember to prepare ahead. Don't use your hands!

  • Also, use your feet and move diagonally to beat the offensive player to where they want to be.

  • Move your feet on defense. Beat the offensive player to the spot.

  • Square up to the basket. Be in a triple threat position as you catch the pass before you shoot.

Coaching Tips - Question and Answer Session
  • Question
    I coach 11 & 12 year olds (boys). The recreation league rules guarantee that each boy pretty much plays equal time. So, I cannot use "playing time" as a leverage point in handling the following:
    When we scrimmage as a team, each child has a tendancy to drive or shoot, not pass. We do plenty of passing drills, but they view the scrimmage time as "fool around and be a star" time.
    Do you have any suggestions about how to motivate them to be more team oriented in these scrimmages?
  • Answer
    Remain firm with this age group. They will walk all over you, if you let them. This age group is just beginning to feel their independence and will try many different ways to gain control over the practice. Make the scrimmage more controlled. Have them execute plays, defense, presses, etc. as they scrimmage. Don't let them get out of hand, rather teach them the proper way to play. Also, the good ole "suicide" (ladder, etc. whatever you want top call it) helps slow down their zest to not follow directions. A little running never hurt a basketball player during practice.

  • Coaching Tip
    When defending an out of bounds play, go to a 2-3 zone and STAY PUT! Don't match up man-to-man! Most plays are designed for easy layups, not 15 foot jump shots.

  • Question
    I am a basketball fan, who has gotten involved in coaching a competitive 7th grade team. I feel comfortable teaching the individual and team skills associated with the game, but know I need to learn more about how to be a game coach. How to know what play to draw up based on what the defense is giving us. How to defense an offense that is giving us problems. When to do "this" and when to do "that". Is there a book, video or other resource that teaches strategy, and game coaching skills?
  • Answer
    When I was in your situation, I had the same questions. There are not "cookbooks" to solving every problem. Try to keep a journal of each game as you go through your season. Note the defense the other team used, the plays that worked or didn't. Did your opponent use a zone press to break your team down? Etc.
    Another way, watch every game you can find. NBA, NCAA, JUCO, high school, etc. Watch what those guys do to correct their problems. Be analytical, guess what they will do next or what you would do differently. Coaching competitively is tough.
    Lastly, consider getting a monthly newsletter such as TimeOut or Winning Hoops. These newsletters have helped me immensely. They are excellent.

  • Question
    Our most popular question, What can I do to increase my vertical jump or leap without buying anything?
  • Answer
    We seem to get a lot of questions similar to the one above. We have supplied reviews of products on our site for everyone's convenience. However, some of you don't really want to spend any money. That's OK. Below is a sample workout that just might help.

    Consider jumping rope, standing calf raises, wind sprints (40 yd. dash, and possibly some plyometric exercises (box jumps). Before beginning any program, consult your doctor. I am providing only some thoughts and suggestions. Your doctor can determine if your body is ready for this type of exercise program.


    2 min. Jump rope
    2 sets of 50 / Standing calf raises
    2 min. Jump rope
    1 min. rest between each exercise

    4 wind sprints (40 yd. each)
    30 sec. rest between each

    Box jumps (do some research before beginning these dangerous "jumps" that are not really jumps) Do not attempt more than 2 sets of 12 per day

    REMEMBER, CONSULT A DOCTOR! PowerBasketball or myself will not be liable for any related injuries you may incur. This is only a suggestion. Your doctor or a sports trainer may be able to give you a better workout.

  • Question
    I coach boys 12/U basketball. I could run 60 minutes of drills that teach them to move and pick and rotate, 5 minutes later I run a scrimmage and they don't use anything they just learned. Any suggestions?Help!
  • Answer
    The age group you are working with is a trying age. The 12's think they know it all. I like spreading the floor and splitting the team into half. Put one half on each end of a full court situation. As one team brings the ball down the floor and crosses half court, have the others step up and get into their defensive positions. This forces the offense to have to move as the defense is really set and the offense must work hard to score. Teach them about spacing, staying 10-15 feet from the ball. The drill reverts to the defensive team if they steal or rebound twice in a row.
    Keep the scrimmaging to a minimum, this age loves to show each other up. It is as much a mental edge as physical when scrimmaging anyway. Find another team to scrimmage against. Your team will move then.

  • Question
    We have a sixth grade basketball team that just finished up a fairly successful season. Most of our kids are playing baseball or soccer now, so we have started an off season program that includes lifting weights. Do you do any weight training? If so, at what age do you start? We have been working out for two or three weeks now and the kids really seem to enjoy it. I just want to make sure we don't hurt anybody.
  • Answer
    Hold off the weight training until the kids are a little older. An off-season program should include lots of aerobic activity;
    running (like soccer) for conditioning, jumping rope for legs, pull-ups for upper body stength, and don't forget box-jumps for increasing leaping ability.

  • Question
    I am head coach of a 12-13 age AAU type league. Instead of the boring - yet stable 2-1-2 zone we are going to try a 1-3-1 trap zone. I only remember parts of it from my days in high school. Any info on this or other aggressive defenses for this age group.
  • Answer
    If you want to become aggresive apply full court pressure using a 1-2-1-1 combined with man-to-man defense instead of your idea of a 1-3-1. Be careful using a 1-3-1, the role of the man up top requires foot speed and the heart of a lion. The same can be said for the guard on the bottom who is responsible for denying baseline and helping the double up to the baseline. Place your best rebounder in the middle, your better defenders on the wing spots. As far as the trap goes, you actually want to double team at the wings using the man on the top and the man on the bottom as described before, keep the rest moving facing the ball and denying entry pass to the post. If you play the 1-3-1 zone the way it was designed to be played it is efficient and frustrating for the other team.

  • Question
    I coach varsity girls basketball for a private high school. This past season, the majority of the opposing teams played man to man defense. Our offense struggled a little to say the least. We do not play man to man defense. I am thinking if we could teach the man to man defense and play it, the girls may get a better understanding of how to execute the offense. Can you give me some advice on how to approach teaching a good man to man defense?
  • Answer
    It does not matter either girls or boys. Defense is the most important lesson to be learned. If you want to improve defensive skills your players must be able to react to the ball and move their feet. Man-to-man defense is not taught overnight, you as a coach must have patience and a willingness to challenge your players to work past their weaknesses. Practice footwork, court vision, and, the hardest part, increase your teams overall foot speed. Sprints, passing drills, basic defensive philosophy. If you are use to playing zone, get out of the habit. The best way to "surprise" your opponent is to apply pressure to the ball. Most zone defenses are designed for double teams, man-to-man is not. Zone defenses were developed due to a teams inability to handle every player of another team. You have not indicated if your team is small, slow, or in-between. I assume that you can match-up against your opponents. Did the teams you played against have great foot speed? Ask yourself this question first. If they did and you did not, a zone may be necessary. Maybe consider a match-up zone instead.

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