Advice to Beginning
I received a call the other day, not unlike
many calls I have received. The new coach played college ball
or just played a lot of ball before. And he/she spends many hours
planning practice. The problem is that the kids don't seem to
know anything. "Mr. Goldstein, my 4th graders don't seem
to know that they are supposed to get the ball downcourt without
going backwards! I don't know whether to laugh or cry. We are
never going to score."
Of course, our books and videos tell you exactly everything to
do. However, here are some simple goals for the first several
practices, or even the season, for younger teams:
1. Every player needs to know how to make a layup and a 1-3 foot shot.
Don't worry about other shots. Work on no-step or one step layups
and one- foot shots. Keep players close to the basket. Do wrist work, touch, release and
extension exercises as much as possible. See videos 5 &
Every player must know how to pivot expertly. Pivoting is used in every aspect of
the game: shooting, catching passes, rebounding, defense and
so on. Many problems that you think are unsolvable, like catching
passing while running at full speed, are due to a lack of ability
to pivot. Long pivots are the key to all moves including driving
to the basket.
player must know how to catch a pass running full steam without walking.
If players can't do this then you are "dead in the water."
If needed spend the entire practice on catching passes without
walking. Try 10 different drills. Intersperse other drills only
to keep the kids happy. See the catch-cut chapter. Without this
ability you will not have an offense. See videos 12 and 13 for
the best explanations. See
4. Teach dribbling immediately for several reasons, the main one
being that every player is probably dribbling improperly with
their head down. Dribbling
position and movement is also very
similar to defensive
movement, so working on dribbling helps
with defense. A third reason to work on dribbling immediately
is that players will work on dribbling at home, coming back to
practice greatly improved. See
video 1 or better, video 8.
5. Work on defensive movement for several reasons:
a- defense is like a dance. Each player needs to know the steps.
There are only two, jump steps and runs, but each is difficult
b- Playing 1-on-1 or even 5-on-5 does not help if players do
not know the steps.
c- Players would rather reach for the ball, than move the feet.
Working on movement starts them in the habit of moving, rather
than just reaching.
See video 9 for the
6. Make sure to work on the TLC (Timing,
Looking & Communication) drills in
the catching & passing chapters. If you want to have an offense,
then players must learn to communicate. Don't worry about plays.
And a big part of communication is just looking at each other. See videos 12 and 13 for the best info.
7. Give kids homework: Make them repeat what you teach in practice at
home. Distribute a practice drill list, even requesting that
a parent sign this sheet.
Coaching is overwhelming at first, even if you have the best
tools (our books and videos). The big job is focusing on the
players as well as preparing yourself. Just remember, that you
can successfully teach the kids every skill. It does not occur
overnight, but you can make significant progress each day if
you are prepared.
Your comments are welcome.
Sidney Goldstein, author of
The Basketball Coach's Bible and The Basketball Player's Bible,
has successfully coached both men's and women's teams over a
period of 15 years.