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yes, another kids coaching story (Update: 2016 edition)

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Starman, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    Here we go with another youth sports coaching saga.

    My sister, who has 5 kids (boy 14, girl 12, identical twin girls 8/8 and girl 4) decided to give basketball coaching a go this season. She decided to coach the twins on their 2nd/3rd grade rec team.

    This is the first level of organized basketball. Their older sister, now in 7th grade, has been playing for 4/5 years; mom asssistant-coached a couple years but this is the first time she has been the head coach. She runs her own law office and can swing her own schedule around a little bit to do it.

    The twins are small but very fast for their age and have played in the driveway on lower Nerf hoops, or taken shots at the big basket when the older kids are playing. They can just barely make a shot on a 10-foot rim; happily the 2nd/3rd grade league uses 9-foot rims and a smaller junior ball.

    Full disclosure at this point: when Mom was coming up through junior high and high school, she was a very good player. A passing playmaking point guard (actually a really good athlete in 3 sports but let's stick to basketball here).

    Every year for about 6 years she played on two basketball teams, and on five of those teams, I was her coach. (I am 15 1/2 years older; my dad was in his late 50s and not really into kids coaching when she reached those grades. I was living in the area and able to do it.)

    I started coaching her because a couple other of my siblings had problems with idiot coaches, including a Bobby Knight wannabee who ran the entire school basketball team for 3 years as a vehicle for his darling son to shoot every time he got the ball. Dad and son both were world-class douchebags (and as far as I know, probably still are); Dad would mercilessly rip son all practice long for everything under the sun, although once the game started it was back to the Give and Go offense of "Give Sonny Boy the ball and Go Rebound."

    Sonny Boy for his part was sullen and selfish, pissing and whining, yelling at teammates who didn't pass him the ball, dogging on defense and generally acting like a complete brat.

    Dad was also one of the last kids-sports coaches who actively fought against the concept of equal playing time. Junior played every second of every game, 5-6 other kids made up the rotation and 4-5 kids sat on the end of the bench, hardly ever playing (including my brother).

    Needless to say Dad and Sonny both were about as popular as diaper rash. When a bunch of parents revolted before 8th grade year (my parents were not in the insurgent group but they definitely gave them moral support), a new coach was brought in, setting off wild celebrations. As soon as Dad, a real-estate agent, found out he was being 'relieved' of coaching duties, he yanked Sonny out of school and moved his family into a townhouse he owned (well, controlled anyway) in another district. Nobody mourned their departure.

    Anyway I resolved when I decided to coach my sister, it wasn't going to be like that -- I was going to turn her into a good teammate, a good passer, defensive player, pick-setter, all that. A point guard, not a shooting guard.

    "If you shoot every time you get the ball, people will hate to play with you," I said. "If you pass and set picks for them, they will love to play with you because they know they will get a chance to shoot. When everybody is having fun, they play harder; when everybody is bummed out and depressed, they drag around the court. You see what it's like on your brother's team with Sonny Boy."

    And it worked. Even from 4th grade, the first year I coached her, she played that way, our teams won, and most of the other kids loved playing with her for all those reasons.

    In the 5 different seasons I coached her teams, never once did I have a parent come to me bent out of shape because I was showing 'favoritism.' Not once. (I always made sure to divvy up PT almost precisely equally for everybody, including Sis; I always made sure I had another couple of kids who could play the point.)

    So here we are some 28-29 years later and Sis is coaching her twin daughters.

    She is especially wary of 'showing favoritism' because she has twins on the team, so in the first practice and then the first game, she had them playing at forward positions. (In little kids basketball, you have 'guards,' who handle the ball, and 'forwards,' who rebound and stand around on the wing.)

    Although the league is 2nd/3rd grade, her team is all 2nd graders (there is another team in the league made up of the 3rd graders from the same school). They have a total of two 60-minute practices before the first game.

    So in the first game last week they come out, and first thing they notice is about 3/4 of the players on the other team are way bigger (talking to parents, apparently 7 are 3rd graders and 3 are 2nd graders.) I happened to be in town so Sis asked me to watch the game and give her a scouting report afterward.

    The game starts and things are not going well. Officially no score is supposed to be kept, but of course everybody always does, and real quick they fall behind, way behind. It gets to 10-0 and finally we make a free throw so we are on the board at 10-1 but that is about as good as it gets.

    Sis told me she had one girl she thought would be a good point guard, so this girl is bringing it down. Pressing is illegal in this league (thank god) and so the other team waits at halfcourt, pounces, steals the ball and takes off for layup city.

    The game develops into pretty much a mess. Point Guard 1 is continually stripped of the ball, point guard 2 is even worse, and the game gets worse and worse. Sis has several other players try point guard, and all are stripped of the ball almost every time.

    There are, however, two kids who are actually jumping for rebounds, running for loose balls, playing defense, and at least getting shots in the air near the basket. You guessed it: the twins.

    The game finally runs down, and in the final minute Point Guard 1 throws in a shot for us, making it 19-3. There is a scramble for a loose ball under the basket and one of the twins ('Sis B.') grabs it, drives in with two dribbles, and makes a layup -- in the wrong basket. So the unofficial final score -- since nobody is keeping score - is 21-3.

    Actually none of the parents was upset over the game, everybody played and played a lot and almost everybody got to take a shot, although only a couple went in (and even fewer in the right basket). So everybody had juice boxes and went home.

    We get home and everybody spreads out around the kitchen table. Sis asks me, "OK, what did you think?"
  2. Colton

    Colton Active Member

    Re: yes, another kids coaching story

    Star... I very much appreciate the ending I was not expecting! (thank you)

    You know, you should be a writer...
  3. Cyrus

    Cyrus Member

    Re: yes, another kids coaching story

    I'm not reading all that.
  4. joe

    joe Active Member

    Re: yes, another kids coaching story

    Your sister's team needs some third-graders.

    The story reminds me of my Catholic league playing days in the '70s. Our fifth-grade team played one team where the opposing guys were a good six inches taller than all of us — and had wispy 'staches. We got truly and rightly smote in that game.
  5. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    Re: yes, another kids coaching story

    Instead of one long textorrhea sequel post, I'll chunk together a couple partial updates.

    1) Well, no shit, Sherlock. (Shooting at the right basket would help too.) :D ::) :D

    2) This league is a 2nd/3rd combination league in the city rec department of the local school district. Each individual public school in the city (4) has a combination 2nd/3rd grade team but the private school where my sister's kids go entered separate teams from each grade, because a combination team would have had 16-18 players (leading to problems with PT). So Sis knew going in she would be at an age and size disadvantage a significant part of the time.

    Saturday we play the all-3rd grade team from the same school. In their season-opening, no-official-score, game they reportedly "won" by something like 28-8 (they had last Saturday off for a bye week).

    Sis is predicting doom and gloom, but the twins, Sis A. and Sis B., aren't so convinced. "Those kids aren't that big," they report.

    There were a few changes made for Saturday's game (I couldn't make the 100-mile trip but I took a 'phone report'). Sis took a few of my 'executive consultant' suggestions into consideration, and let's say, things changed. ;)
  6. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    Re: yes, another kids coaching story

    OK, after the Game 1 debacle (unofficial score 21-3), Sis asked me what I thought, so I suggested Sis-12, the assistant coach, take the twins downstairs for some quality Barbie-doll time and prepared for my brutal unsparing scouting breakdown. There were going to be some things said they probably shouldn't hear.

    I opened with the trenchant observation, "the other team was a lot bigger," then followed up with the uber-technical analysis, "if the other team keeps stealing it from you at halfcourt every time you bring the ball up court, y'all gonna be in a heap of trouble."

    Sis responds, "Uhmmm ... yeah. OK, so what do I do?"

    I said, "Well, you could pay absolutely no attention whatsoever to the score, you could tell the kids on the bench there IS no 'score,' and nobody cares whether you 'won' or 'lost.' "

    She says, "yeah sure, I can SAY that, but you know the parents in the stands are going to be keeping score, and you know the kids can count on their fingers and THEY can keep score, and we can say 'we don't care if we win' all we want but it's still no fun if they score 10 baskets in a row and we don't score any."

    I said, "Right. So what do you think was the biggest problem out there?"

    Sis said, "Nobody seemed to know what they were doing. Everybody just stood there and watched as the other team stole it and shot layups."

    I said, "Well, true enough. Sarah ('Point Guard 1') just froze up every time she got to half court. Then Abby ('Point Guard 2') started freezing up too, plus she has a real bad case of double-dribbles that even the kindly refs are going to stop winking at in another week or so."

    Sis says, "So where does that leave me? My top two point guards can't really play point guard?"

    "Well, maybe not full time. What do you think is the reason they freeze up?"

    "Because they've never played organized basketball before, and never really seen any games. Most of these girls are the oldest, or the only, child."

    "Of course. Now is there anybody on the team who HAS seen a lot of live basketball games?"

    I hollered down to the basement, "hey, come on up, girls," and they all came bounding up the stairs followed by Sis-12.

    I said to Sis B., "That was a nice layup you made in the game, but you know it was in the wrong basket?"

    She said, "Yeah, I knew it was in the wrong basket."

    I said, "Why did you shoot it in the wrong basket?"

    She said, "I knew there was only like 10 seconds left in the game, we were getting the ball stolen at half court every time down, I was playing forward so the ball always got picked off before they passed it up to me, I knew the 'score' wasn't supposed to matter and we were behind by 18 points anyway so what was the diff if I shot it in the wrong basket?"

    Sis A. said, "We talked on the bench it would probably be easier to shoot at the wrong basket anyway."

    I said, "Did all the other girls know what you meant by saying 'wrong basket?" and she said, "I think some of them did but I'm not sure about all of them."

    Mom just shook her head and laughed.

    I said, "I think that's the end of the scouting report for the moment. You know what you need to do."

    She says, "Yeah, I know, but it will be hard."

    I said, "It'll be hard, but it can be done. Heck, I did it; you just have to do twice as much of it."
  7. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    Re: yes, another kids coaching story

    OK. So at practice last week, Sis had a talk with Sis A., Sis B. and assistant coach Sis-12, and told them essentially the same stuff I told her some 30 years ago when I coached her for the first time: "You are going to be playing important positions so you have to work extra hard to be good teammates; you have to pass, you can't be a ball hog. Shoot when a good shot is there but don't just crank it up. You have to try to get everyone on the team involved.

    "When somebody drags getting back on defense, you have to get back double fast yourself. Sis-12, on the bench as the assistant coach you have to talk about what we want the TEAM to do. You can't talk about what your darling sisters are going to do, you have to talk about where we want to pass the ball."

    They all seemed to get the idea so off they went to practice where both twins were given some time at PG. The previous No. 1 PG was kept in that position in order to avoid the apearance of wholesale panic change in the lineup and to avoid possible ruffled egos. The previous No. 2 PG, who had pretty much frozen up dribbling the ball was shifted over to wing with no objections, and everything was set for the game last Saturday.

    This league has a PT rule which dictates all players must play one full quarter and must sit out one full quarter; once those two requirements are fulfilled the coach can make substutitions however they wish. With 8 players it works out that each player plays almost exactly 2 1/2 quarters.

    My brother dropped in for the game and took notes to give me the lowdown on the festivities. It's usually customary for most teams to play 5 players the whole first quarter, which gets 5 of the 8 mandatory-play and 3 of the mandatory-sit requirements off the board.

    Against a team which Sis described as 'monstrous' (somehow they all seem monstrous), Sis started her Game 1 lineup which included Point Guard 1 at PG. She had both twins and another girl sit out the first quarter.

    As expected, the opponents played volleyball on the offensive boards and also picked off a couple breakaway layup steals, so things were looking uncomfortably familiar. But PG-1 managed to throw in a running one-hander and the first quarter ended with us down 10-2 (probably better than anyone expected) in the 'officially unofficial" score.

    Second quarter starts and in come the twins. This sets off a comical scene at center court as the teams try to pick their defensive players (these twins are IDENTICAL twins). After about a minute of "I got her, no you take her," the game was off and running again.

    Sis B., the younger (by one minute) has always been a bit more aggressive and vocal, so Sis installed her as the No. 2 point guard. Sis A took the 'wing guard' position, guarding the opposing point guard.

    The opponents start out with the ball. As soon as they reach halfcourt, the twins sprint out, with Sis A swiping the ball away from the opposing PG at the knees and knocking it into the backcourt. Sis B picks it up in full stride and cruises in for a breakaway layup (and this time it's even at the right basket). The opponents bring it up and at halfcourt, here we go again. Steal and off to the races.

    This time, Sis B misses the layup (this is 2nd grade here, hitting 33% of your layups is outstanding), but another of our players gets the rebound and scores in the lane. Coming right back the twins pounce on the PG at halfcourt again, knock it away for another apparent breakaway but the ball skids out of bounds. The opposing coach says "Holy Spit," or something very much like that, and calls time out.

    He comes up with a fairly decent strategic move: he tells his kids, when the twins come out to challenge the 1 and 2, to pass it off to their 3 (the small forward). Only problem with this is very few 2nd/3rd grade teams have 3 players on the court at any one time who can actually dribble the ball so saying 'pass it to the 3' is pretty close to saying 'just throw it out of bounds.'

    It did, however, slow down the steal-and-layup parade the game was turning into, but by halftime, the score was "tied" at 12-12.

    Third quarter was the 'shuffle quarter' when playing time at PG was divvied up between both twins and No. 1 PG, but each of the twins made a couple more steals and at quarter break we had nosed into an 16-14 lead. Not only were we in the lead, but our eight baskets were spread out among five players.

    Fourth quarter starts and now Sis's evil plan comes to full fruition. The fractional quarters have all been split up so she can essentially free-substitute the whole quarter. Now we even have No. 1 PG playing the 3 position so when the opponents try their pass-away-from-danger strategy, the ball is going right into HER hands.

    So with about 2:00 left in the game, we had a 24-16 lead, and during an opposing time out, Sis tells the kids to "back off the defense." On offense, we work on getting shots for the last 2 kids on the roster who haven't scored (they each get a couple of shots but they roll out).

    Final ends up (theoretically) 24-19 (they score 3 points in the final 30 seconds). Sis B. leads with 8 points, PG-1 adds 6, Sis A. 4 and 3 others get a basket each. My brother assured me that of the 12 baskets, five came from real live assists (where somebody passed to somebody on purpose rather than by mistake). Juice boxes and fun for everyone after the buzzer.

    I get the details from the game from my bro and this week probably Saturday I will get up there for Game 3 (although a blizzard may intervene). This game is against the other team from the twins' school, which Sis KNOWS is all 3rd graders, so it should be interesting.
  8. joe

    joe Active Member

    Re: yes, another kids coaching story

    Good lord, I feel like I live across the street from your sister now. What's for supper?
  9. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    Re: yes, another kids coaching story

    Yeah, I think we need to put a 3-4 graf limit on these things.

    Just like your fantasy team, nobody gives a damn about your (or your relatives') kids sports team.
  10. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    Re: yes, another kids coaching story

    So instead of another chapter out of 'War and Peace,' here's today's agate-capsule update of yesterday's game:

    1) Yes, the blizzard did hit, so no, I could not attend, so once again I was reliant on StarBro's report of the game and first-person accounts from Coach Sis.

    2) Yes, the opposing team was all 3rd graders from "our" school, so once again an across-the-board size disadvantage. (Silver-lining department; Sis has found out that no other teams in the league are all-3rd graders.)

    3) Sis started the Game 2 lineup (PG #1 at point, both twins on the bench). We fell behind 6-2 in the first quarter (essentially as expected).

    4) In the second quarter, the opponents brought in their superstar, a 5-foot-3 G/F/C 'LeBron James' combination whose older sister is the starting center on Sis-12's 7th grade team. She herself outscored us 14-4 in the middle two quarters.

    5) In the 4th quarter we got untracked a bit and picked off a few steals, but every time we narrowed the margin by a couple baskets they just gave the ball to "LeBron." League rules do not allow doubleteaming, trapping or even help defense except inside the lane, so there wasn't much anybody could do about it. "LeBron" finished with 20 as the big girls rolled 26-14. We had near-perfect balance: 1 kid with 4 points and 5 others with a basket each.

    6) Everybody still had juice boxes after the game. Bye week next week (thank god).
  11. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    Re: yes, another kids coaching story

    Brief 'douchey parental antics' update:

    Apparently the team Sis played yesterday had won their opening game by some obscene score (various reports have it something like 30-4) and supposedly some of the other parents in the league are getting huffy that they were allowed to enter the league with an all-3rd grade lineup while "everybody else" is a combined 2nd/3rd grade team.

    Of course, for all official purposes, nobody is really supposed to be keeping scores or WL records anyway.
  12. TeamBud

    TeamBud Member

    Re: yes, another kids coaching story

    Did StarSis' school think about going with two teams of 2nd/3rd graders instead of splitting them by grade?
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