SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Youth Basketball -- It's That Time of Year Again

We had our first practice last week, only a day after we got our rosters and notified the parents. It was great to see such a positive response -- 9 kids showed, and the one who didn't is injured and on crutches. The kids practiced with great enthusiasm, probably encouraged by the enthusiasm of their parents, who either like basketball or, more likely, appreciate both it and the opportunity to get their kids more exercise.

We don't have much space to work with. The middle school where we hold practices has two courts next to each other, and we get a half court, so we emphasized the fundamentals and had a good first practice. Each player worked hard, and we actually (for the first time) have a big fellah who can handle the ball, who has a touch, and who is determined to score. One of our smaller players realized this in our two-on-one drill, where he was paired with the big man. He whispered something before they went in motion, and the result was an excellent pick and roll that resulted in a basket. I asked the smaller player what he said, and the reply was: "I told him that if we ran this play, I'd get him the ball and he'd score." Smart kid. He's the coach's son.

Pride aside, it's fun to get the kids out there and back in the swing of things. This year its the 5th and 6th grade league, and some of the kids are more ready (even with one practice a week) to learn a few basic plays and build upon what they've learned in previous years. I actually watched a DVD I've had for about a year. I purchased it from www.sysko.com, and it's Fundamental Drills for All Coaches," by Ed Schilling, a one-time Miami (Ohio) player, head coach at Wright State, assistant at Memphis and now head coach at a private school in Indianapolis (he also runs an elite b-ball skills academy nearby). The video, made four years ago, remains very relevant, and it's first-rate. That said, you'll have to pick and choose your drills, because Coach Schilling has the benefit of a full court, and some of us do not. Still, you'll get some great ideas, and it's worth purchasing. (Full disclosure: I have no affiliation with Sysko or Coach Schilling).

I'll post a practice plan or two in the upcoming weeks, but it's a great feeling to have basketball starting again.

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