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5Th/6Th Grade Basketball Questions


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#1 Coach Rob

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Posted 15 October 2009 - 09:07 PM

Starting my 5th/6th grade b-ball season next week. Still in a rec league setting however, they allow: full court press, double-teaming, fouls are counted now with 1 and 1's, 3 second lane violation, etc.

Seven of my flag football players are coming over and we have three that played 3rd/4th grade b-ball with us last yr. We're a pretty solid team skill wise, but we only have one 6th grader, three 4th graders and the rest 5th. Seven of the kids have played together since 1st grade, the other 3 played two seasons with us last yr. Still, I think this league will provide a big challenge.

1) Would you play a zone or man to man defense?

2) Any ideas on teaching a full court press and learning how to beat one?

3) Basics of teaching the kids fastbreaks - any easy concepts or drills to teach that?

Thanks!
-CRob

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#2 Coach Rob

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 12:16 AM

Played first game Friday night and got blown out! Biggest problem was the 5'8" kid (age 12? wow!) on the other team who played almost the entire game (Coach's kid). He was towering over all the other kids, made 80% of the shots, grabbed 90% of the rebounds and pretty much was the center of attention. Finally figured out after it was too late that we could double team him. It worked.

Decided that I will play man to man this year along with teaching a 3-2 zone. Reason is I think man to man instills better basketball skills and zone can make you lazy.

Allowing a full court press at this rec age group is wrong imo. It turns the game into a chaotic sprint up and down the court. No chance to set up an offense or defense. I'll teach the kids to beat the press, have some good ideas there. Will definitely have my better ball handlers as my "beat the press" kids.

Going to assign tasks to a few offensive players like having one as the person who sets screens for specific people. Will do the same for ball handlers having two tasks for them. Trying to run complicated plays at this age doesn't seem to work.
-CRob

#3 Charlie

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 07:10 PM

I would agree, teaching them the principles of man to man will make them better basketball players. The first year your kids see the press it a nightmare because even after they beat it you can get them to slow down and run your offense. In my experience you will continually see the press until you have shown you can beat it consistantly. I have seen coaches who lived off of it and were successful at that age but never bothered to teach them the rest of the game.

#4 Coach Rob

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 12:31 PM

In my experience you will continually see the press until you have shown you can beat it consistantly. I have seen coaches who lived off of it and were successful at that age but never bothered to teach them the rest of the game.

The challenge I see is not only beating the full court press, but making the other team pay for it. If we end up scoring, hopefully the other coach will back off the press and we can get down to more core basketball concepts.
-CRob

#5 hollad6636

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Posted 28 October 2009 - 05:33 AM

Coach Rob,

You are correct - make them pay for it a couple of times and the press will usually disappear.

My two cents on your original post.

Do you have the team quickness to play man to man consistantly? If you don't you will struggle to match up and the other team will quickly find your weakness.

For press breaking, teach them to get the ball to the middle -- have someone setup around halfcourt jump circle just like it was high post in a half-court set. I found that kids can understand that pretty quickly. If you do any kind of high-post play in your half-court offense, it makes teaching press break just an extension of the offense. As far as teaching press, I always found kids understood let the ball enter and then trap better than deny entry. There's all kinds of trapping drills and chase and trap drills that you can do that apply to that kind of press.

Fast breaking -- we always worked hard on going downcourt with their heads up. Also, we worked on catching and passing the ball at full speed without putting it on the floor. We called it six line drill, which is also good conditioning. Put a guy on the sideline FT line extended, guy in the half-court circle, and a guy on the sideline FT line extended opposite end. Player starts under basket and passes to first guy on sideline, who passes back, then passes to half-court guy, passes back etc, all the way to a full speed layup. Gets rebound, and does it the down the other side


#6 Coach Rob

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 05:52 PM

Four games into our season we've won 2 and lost 2. Starting to remember how this whole thing works. Depends on the team you're playing, but usually things start out chill and all it takes is a few kids stealing or playing very agressive to ramp things up. It can quickly turn into a chaotic pack of kids running up and down the court. I see our biggest challenge as controlling the tempo by chilling out when the other team wants to ramp it up and ramping it up when they want to chill.
-CRob

#7 Coach3

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Posted 20 November 2009 - 02:00 PM

Coach it's too early I believe to really get into the man 2 man teaching. As basketball is a team sport the basic 2-3 zone would be appropriate so as to keep them from running around without purpose. The 5/6th is a developing stage. Fundamentals with the different ball handling drills,defensive slide drills will go along way in getting them ready for the next level. Keeping it simple and letting them learn while having fun is the most important as you'll gain there trust and keeping them interested in a sport they like. Good luck Coach!! Bobcat Coach
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#8 topdawguga

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 08:34 PM

Coach it's too early I believe to really get into the man 2 man teaching. As basketball is a team sport the basic 2-3 zone would be appropriate so as to keep them from running around without purpose. The 5/6th is a developing stage. Fundamentals with the different ball handling drills,defensive slide drills will go along way in getting them ready for the next level. Keeping it simple and letting them learn while having fun is the most important as you'll gain there trust and keeping them interested in a sport they like. Good luck Coach!! Bobcat Coach


I'm sorry coach, but I can't disagree more with this. The earlier a player learns to play M2M, the better. The zone is an easy to put in defense that is only successful because many kids at this age can't hit the outside shot. The hardest thing to do is teach a kid that has never played anything but zone how to play help M2M. A kid that can play good M2M can learn most zones very quickly and easily. Besides, I think M2M is more fun anyway.

#9 Coach Rob

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 05:24 PM

Coach it's too early I believe to really get into the man 2 man teaching. As basketball is a team sport the basic 2-3 zone would be appropriate so as to keep them from running around without purpose.


I'm sorry coach, but I can't disagree more with this. The earlier a player learns to play M2M, the better. The zone is an easy to put in defense that is only successful because many kids at this age can't hit the outside shot. The hardest thing to do is teach a kid that has never played anything but zone how to play help M2M. A kid that can play good M2M can learn most zones very quickly and easily. Besides, I think M2M is more fun anyway.

We decided to stick with M2M and it's worked well. Some of the kids space out and get burned, but that's all part of the learning process. All the teams we play against play a zone defense which I think will hurt their kids in the long run. We emphasize helping especially when the offensive player enters the paint.
-CRob

#10 YMCA Coach

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Posted 02 January 2010 - 10:00 AM

I teach (among others) a 4th/5th grade boys team, and I coach both man-to-man and zone. Personally, I love playing a matchup 1-2-2 zone. I've had just about everyone tell me that I'm crazy, it doesn't work, etc, but nobody else uses it, so other teams don't adjust to it well.

Everyone is right in that zone can encourage laziness - if you let it, that is. I stress very strongly how it is vital to have constantly active players in every zone. Everybody has to be doing something, whether it's boxing out in advance, covering the bailout pass, or preparing to break downcourt. I usually have an assistant coach or "active parent" watch the players for their activities during plays.
Teamwork - two words, team and work.

#11 bellybones

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Posted 12 January 2010 - 01:27 PM

I'll teach the kids to beat the press, have some good ideas there. Will definitely have my better ball handlers as my "beat the press" kids.


Sorry I'm late to the party, coach, but I have taught my boys to look forward to being pressed, because we can punish the other team by scoring easy baskets. I'm honest with my team that it will be uncomfortable, but that it is uncomfortable for both sides. Our CYO league doesn't permit backcourt pressure until 6th grade, so maybe my guys were a little older than yours. You had mentioned you will have your "better ball handlers" beat the press. I try to keep my boys from taking the easy (and trappable) route of dribbling like a maniac up the sidelines. The things I always stress are not catching the inbounds pass in a trappable area (below the block or near the sidelines), always working toward the middle rather than the sidelines, and pass, DON'T DRIBBLE, your way out of the press. I am lucky to have a couple of bigger kids who don't fluster who flash from mid-court toward the top of the key to receive a pass from guard who initially got the inbounds pass. The big then turns upcourt and looks for teammates who are flashing into open spaces. The only reason to dribble at this point is to get a better angle for a pass. I also sometimes will call a play where the big flashing to the top of the key receives the inbounds pass directly and the guards both streak up the court on either side looking for a pass from the big. A key is to get rid of the ball before the pressure gets there. One other thing...I permanently assign the inbounds pass to a big (either the 4 or 5). That way there is no confusion on whose responsibility it is and the defense doesn't get as good a chance to set up if we execute the in-bounds quickly.

#12 hoopologist

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 09:06 PM

Hey Rob,

I'd suggest working in your practice breaking the press 5 on 8. Have the offense bring the ball against 8 defenders and run whatever it is you're committed to running.
Then once you've run that a few reps take a defender off the floor. Run a few reps and then take two defenders off the floor. Ideally you're kids will have overcome the complexity of 8 defenders (though making a lot of mistakes) then find it a bit easier to go against 5. IN game situations it is then helpful to remind them - should they lose composure, that they've broken a eight-man press every day in practice.

Of course this presumes you're running something sound against the press in the first place:-)

#13 Coach3

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Posted 10 February 2010 - 08:42 PM

Played first game Friday night and got blown out! Biggest problem was the 5'8" kid (age 12? wow!) on the other team who played almost the entire game (Coach's kid). He was towering over all the other kids, made 80% of the shots, grabbed 90% of the rebounds and pretty much was the center of attention. Finally figured out after it was too late that we could double team him. It worked.

Decided that I will play man to man this year along with teaching a 3-2 zone. Reason is I think man to man instills better basketball skills and zone can make you lazy.

Allowing a full court press at this rec age group is wrong imo. It turns the game into a chaotic sprint up and down the court. No chance to set up an offense or defense. I'll teach the kids to beat the press, have some good ideas there. Will definitely have my better ball handlers as my "beat the press" kids.

Going to assign tasks to a few offensive players like having one as the person who sets screens for specific people. Will do the same for ball handlers having two tasks for them. Trying to run complicated plays at this age doesn't seem to work.

Sometimes you have to learn the hard way what works and time ya figure it out it's to late. Knowing what you know now will have you prepared for that situation when it comes back around. As for lazy 2-3 and so on yeah your right it is lazy but that's not a bad starting point in case your m2m principles aren't working. Keep us up to date how the other games go. MVP


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#14 Coach Rob

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 10:36 PM

Update: Fall season we ended up 4-4. This winter season (same kids) we're seeded #3 out of 11 teams going into our tournament coming up in a few weeks. If we keep our heads on straight, making it to the finals is a strong possibility.

Appreciate all the suggestions. We've worked hard on breaking the press with an overload situation in practice 5 vs. 3, 6 vs. 3 and no dribbling allowed. Pretty stressful, but the kids usually figure out to stay away from the trap zones and pass/move quickly.

Mostly play M2M, but we've played a 1-2-2 zone from time to time. I'm still a strong believer in M2M for purely developmental reasons.

I'd say the biggest improvement has been our court sense and ability to move the ball on offense. There have been games where I've instituted a mandatory "five passes before you even think about shooting" rule to get them moving the ball. We try to control the pace of the game, not giving in to the hectic running up and down the court that seems to be the norm.

Biggest challenge is making shots when they find the open man. We're getting pretty good at quick passes, cuts, and taking the high percentage shot; however, the kids seem to miss those easy shots all too often.

Will let you know how the tourney goes.
-CRob

#15 Coach Rob

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Posted 06 March 2010 - 01:52 AM

Kids played great and made it to the semi-finals in our tourney. We lost by 2 pts in the end. The other team had a tall kid who could handle the ball, rebound, and shoot. They kept him pretty much the entire game. It's tough when you have to sub in all your kids to stay competitive in a situation like that. Guess I could've matched him with my big guy, but it didn't seem fair to let kids sit on the bench for a win in rec league ball. All in all, we had a two great seasons and ended up a lot further down the road than I expected.

Football starts in two weeks.
-CRob