Coaching Youth Basketball

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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Coaching youth basketball requires the right admixture of skills, patience, administrative ability, and pure love for the game. There are plenty of coaches who are considered tactical geniuses by their peers. They may have an understanding of the game that rivals that of Pat Riley, Larry Brown, Rick Pitino, or Red Auerbach, but lack the interpersonal skills to make for a truly outstanding coach.

A terrific coach must always be cognizant of the age, maturity, and skill level of his kids. Without this, a coach is likely to take the game too seriously and spoil the fun of it for his younger players, whether he's coaching youth basketball at the peewee, junior high, or high school level. The same may be said of the opposite scenario, too; coaching youth basketball at the ABCD level, for example, requires a sophisticated understanding of the game's finer points, including entire offensive and defensive playbooks. Sheer enthusiasm and an inclusive attitude can't cut it at that level.

Tips for Coaching Youth Basketball

The first thing you must do when bringing your team together early in the season is establish your credibility as a coach. This does not necessarily mean assuming the role of drill sergeant, though some coaches prefer this tack. Rather, it demands respect for your players, regardless of how old they are, and a comprehensive knowledge of every element of the game. You're bound to have players who already understand the subtleties of low-post play as well as those who don't know their point guards from their "off" guards.

Running a smooth practice may force you to divide the team into two so that every player gets an equal challenge. It's not fair to your team leaders to have to face teammates who have never learned to play basic defense and simply hack at will any ball-handler who drives the lane. By the same token, it's unfair to that defender to assign him the task of guarding a soaring, dunking power forward who's already polished his game.


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