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Man Vs Zone


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#1 Johnp2

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 09:22 AM

So my son played first basketball game this season---for once I am not coaching him, but have already decided I am going to coach basketball in the winter (I'll figure out how to juggle it with football bleeding in to it). I really like his coach, so it is no knock on him at all, it's just that it feels too weird being on the sideline. I promised myself I would "stay back" but caught myself pacing up and down the the court all game. ;-)

With that, his team is running a man-to-man defense (9-10 year old league). I'm seeing some downside to this. His team won, but I'm curious about your thoughts on man vs zone at this age.

First our opponent subbed a lot during the game. This caused our players to lose track of who they were covering. It got to the point where the instruction was to "cover anybody who is not covered".

Second, we were called numerous times for double-team--this is related to the first point above.

As I watched, I started pondering how a 2-3 zone would fare. We scrimmaged a team that manhandled us, and they were playing a 1-2-2 zone (although it was overkill as 99% of the shots seem to be from the baseline).

Anyway, I'd appreciate your thoughts on this. I could be completely wrong and man is the way to go. I asked one of the officials (who has officiated many years) and he said most teams run man, and he would recommend running man.

Now I spend the rest of the season chomping at the bits to start coaching again. I am grateful that my son's coach "gets it" (our opponent kept their 5"9' player in the entire game) but our coached showed integrity and made it about having fun.

TeamSnap!

#2 Johnp2

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 10:36 AM

Additionally, my son is a pretty good free-throw shooter, but he knows there is $5.00 in it for him if he attempts a free-throw as a "granny shot" in a game---$10.00 if he makes it. :lol:

#3 Coach Rob

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 11:30 AM

John -

Check out my 5th/6th grade question thread somewhere under the b-ball heading. Has a few answers in there, plus other challenges I ran into last year.

I prefer M2M b/c if taught correctly, once the kids do a zone, it rocks. I experienced a lot of teams playing zone and a few who played M2M. The zone teams were boring to play against and usually didn't do well defending transitions or if we moved the ball a lot. The subbing can get tricky, assigning a captain or two to help remind kids who they have helps. We ran through scenarios in practice on subbing and how to handle it.

Guess it depends on the perspective. If a coach is looking short term, a zone D can win more games especially in this age div. If a coach is looking long term, the players will be better defensively if allowed to play M2M. Imo, if a kid can't play M2M well, he/she will get crushed as they get older.
-CRob

#4 Johnp2

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 12:37 PM

Thanks. I figured there was a post somewhere on it, but was just being lazy, I guess. I guess I am on the fence, and will have a better idea once I'm ready to coach. It's been a learning experience already for my son. Stud football player--slightly above average basketball player--thus far. He goes full throttle 100% of the time, and while he is in incredible shape, he is getting winded. I told him to reserve his energy, but he said he's enjoying it and he will soon condition his body to "get used to it". Oh to be nine years old again. ;-)

I guess the strategist in me makes the zone appealing, but I do understand the development that goes with playing man.

One other question---his team does not have positions. Instead it's just cover your man on defense, and get open, pass, and then shoot on offense. I'm not advocating running the triangle offense or anything, but am just wondering if it is normal to not assign positions in 9-10 year old basketball. Thanks

#5 AWILDCAT312

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 07:32 PM

Hey guys
I am myself a fan of the M2M defense. And I think that if a person has the practice time and the talent it is good at a youth age. Some will say that you should run man at the youth level because it teaches kids early on the principles of the Man. I have coached Youth Basketball for several years at anywhere from 8 to 13 year olds, and know that you can teach good M2M principles out of a zone, while making it a ton easier on youth players. We play in a very competitive youth league where Zone or Man is permissible, and the press is allowed in 10 year old and above. If a team runs strictly a man to man in our league, they will be thumped royally. Man defense all the time is for strictly non-competitive leagues. One good player will beat your himself if you aren't very good at it. And we all know at the youth level few are. You just don't have the time it takes to teach the full scope of man.
We have run a 2-3, a 1-2-2, and even a Diamond-1(great defense), and have had winning seasons every year. The 2-3 is my choice, it works well with youth. I do agree that your players need to be aggressive tho, otherwise nothing will work, especially a zone.
Tim
simply-youth-basketball.com

#6 Coach Rob

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Posted 12 July 2010 - 04:43 PM

One other question---his team does not have positions. Instead it's just cover your man on defense, and get open, pass, and then shoot on offense. I'm not advocating running the triangle offense or anything, but am just wondering if it is normal to not assign positions in 9-10 year old basketball. Thanks

I'll assume you're in a rec league with no tryouts, promotes learning the game, and every kid getting some equal playing time. The argument against assigning positions could be that it might not allow certain kids the opportunity to improve on weaker skills or learn new skills if they run down the court to a specific spot every time. The other challenge in a rec league is most kids at that age want an opportunity to bring the ball down, dribble, make a play by dribbling, etc.

The argument for assigning positions is that it definitely brings more order to a pretty chaotic scene (which I'm sure you've witnessed by now) out on the court. The teams that allowed the same kids (best dribblers) to bring the ball down and set up the taller kids as low posts had better records, no doubt.

EDIT: Funny, I just talked w/ my son who's in another basketball camp for a week. He's always one of the taller kids on the teams, so he ends up playing against the bigger guys down low. He mentioned they hadn't assigned positions on his camp team so he had the opportunity to bring the ball up several times. Said it was nice to do that for a change.
-CRob

#7 Orange

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 02:28 PM

Ha, look at all us football coaches talking basketball. I haven't coached basketball but my son has played on a good team in a competitive league and I've watched their strategy closely. They work mostly out of a 2-3 zone. They'll run man on occasion and will press full court or half court at certain points but its mostly the zone. It seems like zone is what most teams run in our league or mix it up as our team does.

I do agree with the above poster who said one good player can beat a man defense. They simply spread the offense out and have their key guy attempt to drive it to the basket. It seems like most of the better teams have a basketball star who can make this kind of play too.

#8 Coach Rob

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Posted 16 July 2010 - 12:13 PM

The man vs zone question is one of long or short term perspective, imo. In the short term, a zone will reduce points scored by the other team and probably result in a better showing score/standing wise. The downside to a zone with the younger kids is a coach not teaching proper M2M skills and incorporating those in the zone. I witnessed several teams "staying in the zone" and shuffling with the ball, it was almost robotic.

Full disclosure: at the risk of opening up a can o' worms, I'm against zones, presses, traps, etc. for the younger levels even in a more competitive setting. Some would argue these are all realities of basketball and kids need to learn how to execute and defend against them.

Zones - I'd rather see kids working on good M2M skills and becoming excellent defenders with quick feet and hands, along with developing a good court sense before moving to a zone. I've talked with a few local high school/college coaches about this subject and they all concur that kids who've been taught proper M2M defense are way ahead of the other new recruits. I don't see a problem mixing in a zone now and then during games though.


Traps/Presses - Don't like them, especially at younger levels and definitely not in rec or developmental leagues. I watched too many games turn into blowouts in the first 5 minutes, it was ridiculous. It also seems like kids panic and games move into chaos mode resulting in nothing that really resembles basketball. I'm more in the camp of allowing kids to develop proper dribbling, passing, and shooting skills. I like to see games that actually look like basketball with solid defense instead of constantly going for the steal or teams on offense that understand ball movement and not just one pass then shoot.

Curious what others think?
-CRob

#9 Johnp2

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 04:09 PM

I think the more I am watching that man defense is becoming my preference. I also feel that it's important for the kids to learn how to establish a zone, and will probably coach the kids both and teach them to switch on the fly.

Regarding the traps, our league does not allow it, and thank goodness for that---I can see incredible blowouts like you mentioned. We are in a rec league, and I learned this past week our league does not have a mercy rule as my son's team got SMOKED (at one point it was 30-2. The officals did a nice thing and had the score keeper no longer display the score. He didn't make a thing out of it, but I noticed they put both score cards to blank in the fourth quarter.

With that, I think I have found a tactic that would be very useful in this league. Simply put a defender RIGHT on the half court line to meet the dribbler coming down the court. Nine times out of 10 it results in a back-court violation as the dribbler panics and takes a step backward. Understand a lot of kids in this league have never picked up a basketball before. This is a pretty cheap tactic though, I would probably never pull it out, but I know it would work.

#10 Charlie

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 10:56 PM

Although I would agree that you should teach your players all aspects of the game when they are young I also think that unless you happen to be blessed with alot of talent you can take a much weaker team and be competitive playing zone.

I have also found that by playing a 2-3 zone and by putting my two weaker defenders and rebounders up top on the ball, they get much more into the game and gain confidence more quickly because they are more involved. In addition, when they were younger and you weren't allowed to full court press, they would get the opportunity to handle the ball without defensive pressure after making the steal.

In usually run my 2-3 as follows: I would set them up as in fig 1. As the ball rotates to the wing (fig 2.) my players would rotate as follows. My #1 defender would push out on the ball, and my # 2 defender slides down to cover the high post, and as the ball goes to the corner this is where we would normally trap (see fig 3), but you have indicated that you can't trap so your players would still rotate to cover the middle. Your #3 defender would kick out on the ball, your #5 defender would slide down to cover the block, your #2 defender slides down to cover the middle and your # 4 defender stays home on the block to cover the weak side for rebounding.

Just my two cents,

Charlie

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#11 Johnp2

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Posted 24 July 2010 - 09:27 AM

I am going to be coaching our next game (as our coach has an appointment that evening). I think I will attempt a zone---although they have not used it in a game and I don't have a practice before our next game. We'll see how it goes.

What I'm seeing with M2M (at least for our team) is that the kids are pretty much just going back on defense, if the person next to them has the ball they will cover, but the rest of them hang around in the paint for the rebound.

I think what I will do with the few minutes I have before the game is teach them the zone numbers, and explain to them to stay in there assigned zone and cover whomever is in their zone. That's about all I can do with 10 minutes---but I want to see how it works out. Should be fun. ;-)

#12 Charlie

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Posted 26 July 2010 - 04:50 PM

Johp2,

Let us know how it works out. I think zone will work well for you but I sure wouldn't want to try to implement it without a couple of practices to work on assignments. If you only have a few minutes I would say the one of the most important things I would emphasize is to stay home on the weak side, perimeter defenders need to put a lot of pressure on the ball and your low block defenders need to stay down low and not get impatient and move up and out of position, and finally make sure you always have a defender in the middle to clog things up.

Good Luck,

Charlie

#13 Johnp2

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Posted 27 July 2010 - 04:37 PM

Let us know how it works out. I think zone will work well for you but I sure wouldn't want to try to implement it without a couple of practices to work on assignments.


Understatement of the year. ;-) Yea, I spent the first 10 minutes talking to the players about it, even had them line up in their zones etc. "Every got it?" ---affirmative! First defensive possession---no zone. Remind the kids (they all nod yes), next defensive possession--no zone. Ha! Lesson learned. Understand that 1) I am not their coach--really not even the assistant, 2) there is such a lack of talent on the team the coach is forced to teach incredibly basic things to keep the lesser skilled players on track, 3) I've coached many seasons in different sports and typically have 3-4 practices per week so should have known it would not succeed---but I tried anyway. ;-)

With that, while the opposing coach was very, very nice---the coach did something I'd encourage others not to do. When your team is up by 25+ points in the fourth quarter---do your best to temper your enthusiasm when your team scores (i.e. don't jump in the air and scream "yes!", raise your arms up, pump your fist, etc). I've been on the end of blowouts (the winning side) and the second I know we have the game in hand, I tone it down dramatically--to the point of acting contrite. This coach was just new and inexperienced so did not know better--and really it did not bother me (if I were the coach of our team it probably would have though) and if I were to give that coach advice---that would be it. :-)

#14 Orange

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Posted 01 September 2010 - 11:05 AM

Regarding traps and presses. My son's league only allowed half court pressing up through age 10. In the last minute of the halves they were allowed to use full court presses. He's now playing 11-12 and they do allow full court defense.

Previous to joining this league (at 7-8) he was playing in a very laid back YMCA league where they didn't even allow stealing or double teaming. His first game in the new league he looked like a deer in head lights and turned the ball over a lot. After a few games he adjusted as they all seem to do. Teams will trap and press but they can't cover everyone so teams figure it out and beat it. I like the way the allow it, progressing as the kids get older and my experience is that the teams mostly handle it fairly well.

And I guess this is more aimed at Coach Robs can of worms. From what I've seen if you went to straight man on man (in our league) the other team would be feeding the ball to their best players. Traps can force the other team out of this to an extent. Also, you mentioned at the younger age levels. I guess that depends on how you define it. I would probably define that as under 10.

#15 Johnp2

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Posted 03 September 2010 - 03:27 PM

Well, our team finished 2-8. On the bright side, we DID win our first tournament game. Also, in the second tournament game, my son scored all the points for his team in a 31-2 loss. Ha!

I'm excited about coaching this next season. As mentioned, this season I was merely a dad who sat on the bench and cheered the team on. The division is 9-10, so I am hoping to take my football team onto the basketball court this winter to see how we fare.