Saturday, March 7, 2009

John Wooden or Bobby Knight?

Today was the final game of my inaugural season as Basketball coach. I led the "Hanscom Red Bullets" through a very successful season. The team was a mix of 1st and 2nd graders. It was a co-ed team and Mary Beth was on the team (the main reason I was coaching). I'm not sure if I have the natural talent of Wooden or Knight, but I do have an interest in teaching others the greatest life-sport game around.

I found it very difficult at first. The kids were so young and had such a small attention span. In this age it is all about the basics. No scores kept, no fouls unless it is really blatant, coaches double as refs, defense is man to man and you wear a colored wrist-band to show you who you are supposed to guard (half-court only).

Practices were the most challenging aspect. I was alone (no assistants), the kids all just want to mess around, and there is very little focus from them on getting better. I slowly learned to use basic skill drills, interweave some conditioning to change the pace and then try to reduce the game down to small pieces that they could understand. Work ethic really showed even at this age. Some kids ran laps to perfection, and others just wanted to be in front of their buddy.

It got old working on dribbling drills, but by the end of the season I could see some real improvement in many of the kids.

I found it difficult to take things down to such a young level. I've played with adults for so long I couldn't get in the groove with the kids who were just learning the basics: what's a throw-in, what do you mean crash the boards, I don't want to throw it to him - he's not my friend.

In the end, we had some good games where they passed and shared the ball. They learned to be aggressive on defense without hacking, and they seemed to have a good time. I hope they are all still enjoying the game at age 36 like me.

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