Coaches, What Are We Doing?

This video is a few years ago, but the message Coach Van Gundy delivers is spot on.  Our role as youth coaches is to teach skills. Period.

This year is my first season as an assistant coach on my son’s traveling basketball team.  We are a “C” level team which means most of the kids have developing fundamentals – bringing the basketball up the court is enough of a challenge, let alone dealing with zone defenses, presses and the like.

In our first few tournaments we encountered situations where pressing and zone were allowed. Unfortunately, we ran into teams that decided that it was more important to press as long as the tournament rules allowed, then fall back into a zone trap once they had established big leads. What is the purpose of doing that? I think it’s exactly what Coach says in the video – the coaches are more interested in bragging to their buddies about their coaching prowess, rather than building skills. Even in a 40 point win, I argue by employing pressing they are not building skills either. Stealing the ball becomes their offense.

The other part that stinks, is that to attempt to avoid potential embarrassment in a tournament we have to spend over 50% of our practice time on press breaking. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get away from that and teach the kids how to dribble, pass and shoot? I’d like to propose that at lower levels we ban everything but man-to-man defenses.

On a positive note, we did run into one tournament where pressing was banned. It was a much better experience for the kids overall. Why can’t that be the rule?

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