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Advice To Beginning Coaches 2

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Advice to Beginning Coaches

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 & 6.

2. 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.

3. Every 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 video 12.

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 to teach.
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 best info.

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.

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