Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

YKNGP responds to a Twit

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When I say twit, I don’t mean someone who is a stone idiot. But as I tool around Twitter looking for Twits more interesting than myself, from time to time I come across a Twit that needs more than a 140-character response. Hence, “YKNGP Responds to a Twit.”

Today’s Twit is Geoff Golden, a basketball fan who just joined Twitter a few days ago. His virgin post goes like this:

Just had the opportunity to watch a 7th grade youth basketball game….both teams played a 2-3 zone the ENTIRE game!! Wins v. Development!

2371490657_6230d67ded_mMercy me! I do declare, these dipshits must think they’re Jim Fuckin’ Boehim or something! Be still my beating heart! (Note: Geoff Golden does not appear in this photo.)

I presume Geoff Golden is shocked that the coaches used a 2-3 zone instead of going man-to-man, or maybe switching it up with a 1-3-1, or a box-and-one, or a 3-2, or a triangle-and-two, or something that was less obviously used to ensure victory.

Mr. Golden: as one who finished coaching two different rec league teams, one with 5th- and 6th-graders, and one with 7th- and 8th-graders (with one 6th grader), let me share why these coaches probably had their kids in a 2-3 zone. It’s not because they were ignoring development. It’s because they wanted to eliminate mass confusion.

Believe me, I’ve tried many times to institute a man-to-man defense. I think it’s the best way to play defense, and I think it also helps teach you the concept of moving around on offense. Three problems:

— In rec league ball, sometimes the matchups are so overwhelming in one favor that having a kid play man-to-man is cruel and unusual punishment.

— Also, not everyone is in basketball shape. Even with frequent substitutions, I see a lot of kids sucking wind in a hurry chasing one player around the floor for few-minute stretches.

— However, the main problem is that man-to-man, more than zone (at least at this level) takes a level of communication most coaches aren’t able to develop in tweens and early teens, particularly when there’s only one practice a week. Not that you don’t communicate in a zone, but at least if a player gets past you, there’s probably someone watching to make sure that man is picked up.

The communication is even worse once you start substituting — and the other team starts substituting. There’s no time on the fly to figure out matchups, and the kids never figure them out on their own. You end up with two kids randomly guarding somebody and three standing around like they’re waiting for a bus.

And, yes, I’ve tried this more than one week in a row. Really, by the time the team has gelled and is comfortable with other enough to do an effective man-to-man, the season is over.

Geoff Golden, if you have figured out a way to teach man-to-man to widely differently talented tweens and teens, who don’t know other at practice one, and who practice only once a week, please tell me. I beg of you! I would love to have my teams at least play man from time to time. But having them do that, I’ve found, has hindered their development, not helped it.

And that is today’s edition of “YKNGP responds to a Twit.”


Written by rkcookjr

April 7, 2009 at 7:45 pm

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