A common complaint I hear from numerous high school coaches is that when their Freshman class arrives on campus in the Fall, they are not very skilled on the basics of basketball. (Check out my post, 5 Tips to Coaching Youth Basketball, geared towards players 10 and under.) Because high school coaches have their own offensive and defensive philosophies, they must spend the first few weeks of practice teaching these philosophies to their new players. Due to the rules limiting practice in the Fall, this eats into almost all of the time we have before our first pre-season games. Today I wanted to share some ways to help create exceptional feeder systems into your basketball program.
Before I dive into these I must voice that I know every city, county and state are different in terms of where their children progress in the school system. For instance, where I attended school the students who live in a particular area are funneled through the same elementary and middle schools into the same high school. On the other hand, where I coach now our county is zoned into several districts. Meaning that no matter what middle school you attend there are three to four different high schools you could be placed at.
Start Youth Leagues in the Fall and Spring
During the Fall months, conduct a younger basketball league for children in grades 3-6. In the Spring, have a league for your 7-8 graders. During the leagues, each week hold one practice in the evenings in which you spend half in drill stations or teaching segments and spend the remainder of time conducting a team practice. On Saturday’s play your games. Have your Varsity players be coaches of these teams to give them experience in teaching and this will also develop them into better players and leaders. Not only will the younger players develop great habits at an early age, but they will also become accustomed to and develop relationships with other players whom they could be playing with for years to come.
Teach Philosophy(s) to Area Coaches
Teaching the youth your system is all great and wonderful but if other coaches are not helping to instill these same principles the learning curve will be much slower. Conduct a clinic once or twice a year for your area coaches. Invite every youth, middle school, and AAU coach that are coaching your future players to these clinics. Spend the clinic on the court teaching them your philosophies and thoughts and what you think would be great to teach their players. Be open to suggestions, don’t be afraid to learn something new yourself!
Share Your Plays
Print out several FastDraw plays for the half-court, baseline out-of-bounds, and sideline out-of-bounds to give to the coaches above. Encourage them (nicely) to try running a few of the plays so the players can learn parts of your system as they grow older.
Conduct Summer Basketball Camps
I know personally, I learned a lot during my father’s summer basketball camps. Furthermore, there were a core group of us that went through these camps (and the leagues) that played middle and high school basketball together and flourished while doing so because we all learned the game the same way. Family vacations are all over the map during the summer months so I suggest holding two, week-long camps (9-5 pm); one in June and one in August. Make sure while teaching basketball skills, but also remember to keep the camp fun as well!
I hope that you found the above tips to creating feeder systems for your program beneficial and you are able to take at least one thing to your program this season! As always, I would love to hear if you have any suggestions that you use to benefit your feeder programs?