Part II: Maintain Good Sportsmanship in Youth & High School Sports Using "Mismatch Etiquette"

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for DSCF1482_3_3.JPG

Guest Post From:  Ray Lokar

Last time we discussed some of the realities of mismatched games in youth and high school basketball. Today we'll present some strategies to use during mismatched contests, and the objective for employing those tactics. Remember, the key point is to explain this to the players so that they realize that they are not letting up but actually working on strategies that will make them better.

1) Play everyone early and mix up your lineup. Insert a few subs with a couple of starters. The starters work hard and still deserve to get some time. This mixes up the lineups and you may find some interesting combinations.

OBJECTIVE: You never know when an injury or foul trouble (maybe both) may force those        players into an increased role. Prepare them to play with the regulars.

2) Don't use a full court press. I don't care if you are a pressing team and you "need to work on it." What kind of work are you really getting against that type of inferior competition anyway?

OBJECTIVE: Playing a pressing defense against bad competition causes players to take gambles that may not work against better teams, and those are the teams that you are supposed to be preparing to beat. Continuing to press may develop bad habits that hurt you down the road. Avoid those bad habits by calling off the press or changing to a different type of pressure. There may be some games or times during a game when you actually want to slow the pace anyway.

3) Don't get steals and shoot uncontested layups. Do that in layup lines. Pull it out and work on some sort of offensive set or continuity.

OBJECTIVE: This will help you run out the last possession of a game when you have a one-point lead. Or better yet when it's tied with 35 seconds to go and you want to take the last shot. And then demand only inside shots. THAT will help you get better.

4) Play a tight zone or a pack m2m defense.

OBJECTIVE: Play as if you need to stop some big post player or a team that can't shoot outside, on at least a crucial possession.

5) Don't deny passes and get steals in the half court. Force THEM to take time off of the clock.

OBJECTIVE: Play as if you were playing a team much quicker than you that might be able to beat you on some backdoor plays. Against those teams the deeper you get in the shot clock, the bigger advantage the defense has.

6) Block out and rebound - then WALK IT UP!

OBJECTIVE: Play as if you were protecting an 8-point lead in the final minute. At that point in a game you don't want to play a fast pace and create more possessions and opportunities for the opponent to come back.

If a team did that for an entire half using 35 seconds and even assuming that the losing team didn't 'play along' and shot in their first 10 seconds, the team would have to shoot 100% just to score 40 points in the 2nd half. A more normal 50% and they score 20 points. Maybe the other team scores a few and you still win by a substantial margin.

In an attempt to handle those blowout situations, a youth basketball league based in southern California has implemented the following rules. This league, with good intentions, plays 5 periods and players must play in 2 of the first 4 periods, with the 5th period being free substitution. They also have this interesting addition in an attempt to keep scores closer.

12.1 REMOVAL OF TOP PLAYERS - If the mercy rule is in effect at the start of, or any time during the 5th period, it is mandatory for the opposing coach to select a maximum of three (3) players to sit out the balance of the game or until the in the score of the game is 15 points or less. Eligible substitutes must be available and the removal of players cannot force a team to play with less than five (5) players.

I asked for some opinions of this rule and my friend Matt Grahn (who writes a GREAT blog "Matt Grahn's Basketball Coaching Workshop") sent me a note asking, "Has sportsmanship slipped to the point where it has to be mandated by rule?" My thoughts are the same. We shouldn't have to devise rules to "make" sportsmanship happen, we should educate coaches on doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do.

Positive Coaching Alliance trains Double-Goal Coaches® nationwide about the responsibility of striving to win while teaching life-lessons in order to develop Triple-Impact Competitors™ through establishing a positive culture, creating dynamic practices, and making the games meaningful for all who are involved. That should be a part of a youth coach's basic philosophy - not a mandated rule.

Thumbnail image for PCA_HTG_magnet.jpg

It's my feeling that it is the winning coach's responsibility to Honor the Game, by respecting their Opponents and find methods to manage the situation in ways that are mutually beneficial for participants. I don't think it's a great situation when a rule says an opposing coach can tell a youngster, who he/she may not know, that they are not going to allow them compete in the last period of a game. This, however, is a great opportunity for that player's own coach to teach the players and handle the situation him/herself.

When an opposing coach removes the "Top Players" as outlined in this rule, they may take it personal and feel the other coach does not like them, creating a wedge between that player and coach that may never be able to be removed. In a youth league, quite often the opposing coach will be that player's coach the next year, so this could lead to conflict down the line. Possibly worse than that, those players may think, "I'm so good the other coach won't let me play." This goes to developing a detrimental "Fixed Mindset," as described in Carol Dweks's book Mindset. What we want to develop are "Growth Mindsets," where players feel they're good because of the work they have put in - not necessarily because they're talented. Another detrimental message is being sent to the players who are allowed to play. It tells them that they are not as good as the other players - and may further widen that perceived gap. None of this can be good for the mental and social growth of either group of players.

Sports can be a magical place to be when everyone handles themselves appropriately and keeps the best interest of all competitors - on both teams - and the game itself in mind. Competition is a non-stop learning environment with constant challenges for both teams. It's a laboratory for life in a game situation - and kids think they're just playing. Every day when I drop my 3rd grade son off at school I tell him to "Be good, learn lots, and have fun!" We should make sure we all do the same in sports.

 

"Ray Lokar, Lead Trainer for Positive Coaching Alliance, provides today's article. "Coach Lok" will be a frequent contributor to "The Athlete's Sports Experience". You can follow Ray at:  http://twitter.com/coachlok

Comments

Leave a comment
  • Girls BB score 108 to 3: http://bit.ly/fQj7F7 @CoachLok 2 part series on basketball - "mismatch etiquette|" is on pt. with how U should deal with this type of situation: Part (1)http://bit.ly/eBa1yT (Part 2) http://bit.ly/hqe6eD

    My quick thoughts on subject. There is no reason in the world you should beat someone by over a 100 pts. @brianmccormick said I don't like the perspective that good players/teams have to apologize for being good. My reply to Brian is that nobody is asking the coach of a superior team to apologize.

    @CoachMattGrahn stated that "it is {about} how you win." I totally agree with this sentiment. "Temper Justice with Mercy." This philosophical statement has always been a guiding force in our jurisprudence system. Not always followed, but something that judges should factor in their thinking. Likewise, an opposing coach of a superior team needs to have this same philosophical mindset. Tempering dominance with mercy.

    Like Coach McGill, the winning coach of the 108 pt. team, I've been on both sides of the equation. Here's an earlier post by me on my thoughts on the subject: http://tl.gd/82dlpg I understand his sentiments & I don't like when teams obviously back off. The key is COACHING your kids in this situation where it can benefit you and the other team.

    My daughter is playing her first year of high school basketball as a sophomore. She participated in a summer league and is currently on the JV squad at her team. To get her ready for the season, I placed her in a clinic that is run by an excellent college coach (Heidi VanDerveer) at Occidental college. I've watched a lot of girls basketball over the last 6 months and I have a lot of thoughts on the state of women's basketball. One quick thought to share with you is that the better female athletes like to play soccer and volleyball over basketball; but that's another subject for another day.

    In watching girls basketball, I've noticed the following:

    (1) Most points come off steals that lead to easy layups. I'm betting that's how the majority of the points were scored in this game. What good is that in developing your team's ability to learn how to play the game.

    (2) Inability to execute a set offense.

    (3) Half-Court game - Inability to run a fast break or a secondary break

    (4)Poor understanding of how to create spacing to free self for shot or pass.

    (5) Poor post play, endemic in all of basketball, male or female.

    (6) Poor Post passing

    What can a coach do. Coach Lok has laid out a good plan, so I'm not going to recreate the wheel, but I would have encouraged the coach to tell his team not to score any uncontested layups off steals, to run his set offense. If you score running your set offense, fine. Your team is developing and you're also helping the other team become better in their 1/2 court defense.

    (2) Practice your transition offense - Tell your team they can score in transition off a defensive rebound.

    (3) Set no ball screens. George Irvine wrote an excellent article on teaching youth how to play - http://bit.ly/hnuAqj Here's another Irvine article on his view of high school basketball after he observed the Washington Boys & Girls basketball tournament in 2009: http://bit.ly/fuHKxb

    (4) Feed the post - Work on your team's low post game, giving your post people the opportunity to make decisions with their back to the basket; whether it's creating space for a shot or passing out of the post.

    (5) Defensively - If you're a zone team, play man. If your a man team, play zone. Don't double, do provide help.

    My philosophy is simple. Work on your weaknesses; develop your team's basketball intelligence by having them execute an offense instead of running a layup drill. Anybody can bully an inferior opponent. Take this moment to help your team and the individuals become better basketball players and sportsmen or sportswomen.

  • Ray Lokar has written an excellent two part series on what coaches in all sports can do when they're the dominant team and are blowing out an opponent.

    Recently, there was a girls High School basketball game in Utah and the final score was 108 to 3: http://bit.ly/fQj7F7 Lokar's two part series on basketball - "mismatch etiquette|" is on point with how a coach should deal with this type of situation: Part (1) http://bit.ly/eBa1yT (Part 2) http://bit.ly/hqe6eD

    There is no reason in the world why you should beat someone by over a 100 points. Brian McCormick said, "I don't like the perspective that good players/teams have to apologize for being good." My reply to Brian is that nobody is asking the coach of a superior team to apologize.

    Coach Matt Grahn stated that "it is {about} how you win." I totally agree with this sentiment. "Temper Justice with Mercy." This philosophical statement has always been a guiding force in our jurisprudence system. Not always followed, but something that judges should factor into their thinking when meting out a sentence. Likewise, an opposing coach of a superior team needs to have this same philosophical mindset. Tempering dominance with mercy!

    Like Coach McGill, the winning coach of the 108 pt. team, I've been on both sides of the equation. Here's an earlier post by me on the subject: http://tl.gd/82dlpg I understand his sentiments & I don't like when teams obviously back off. The key in this situation is to COACH your kids so that it benefits your team and the opposing team.

    My daughter is a sophomore in high school and is playing her first year of high school basketball. She participated in a summer league and is currently on her school's JV squad. To get her ready for the season, I placed her in a clinic that was coached weekly by an excellent college coach (Heidi VanDerveer) at Occidental College. I've watched a lot of girls basketball over the last 6 months and I have a lot of thoughts on the state of women's basketball. One quick thought to share with you is that the better female athletes choose soccer and volleyball over basketball; but that's another subject for another day.

    In watching girls basketball, I've noticed the following:

    (1) Most points come off steals that lead to easy layups. I'm betting that's how the majority of the points were scored in this game. How does a layup drill help develop your team's ability to learn how to play the game?

    (2) Inability to execute a set offense.

    (3)Inability to run a fast break or a secondary break.

    (4)Poor understanding of how to create spacing to free self for shot or pass.

    (5) Poor post play, endemic in all of basketball, male or female.

    (6) Poor Post passing

    What can a coach do? Coach Lok has laid out a good plan, so I'm not going to recreate the wheel, but I would encourage coaches with the dominant team to tell their team not to score any uncontested layups off steals and to to run their set offense. If you score running your set offense, fine. Your team is developing and you're also helping the other team become better in their 1/2 court defense.

    (2) Practice your transition offense - Tell your team they can score in transition off a defensive rebound.

    (3) Set no ball screens. George Irvine wrote an excellent article on teaching youth how to play - http://bit.ly/hnuAqj Here's another Irvine article on his view of high school basketball after he observed the Washington Boys & Girls basketball tournament in 2009: http://bit.ly/fuHKxb

    (4) Feed the post - Work on your team's low post game, giving your post people the opportunity to make decisions with their back to the basket; whether it's creating space for a shot or passing out of the post.

    (5) Defensively - If you're a zone team, play man. If your a man team, play zone. Don't double, do provide help.

    My philosophy is simple. Work on your weaknesses; develop your team's basketball intelligence by having them execute an offense instead of running a layup drill. Anybody can bully an inferior opponent. Take this moment to help your team and the individuals become better basketball players and sportsmen or sportswomen.

  • In reply to cgrock24:

    Clarence,

    Great supported comment. In addition, both you and Ray's points can be philosophically applied to any sport. With just a little thought, all can gain from a sports experience even when opponents are on the opposite side of the spectrum as far as ability.

    Please feel free to peruse my blog in whole. I believe, based on your post, that you would find a lot of interesting material here.

    Best

    Kirk Mango
    http://www.becomingatruechampion.com/

Leave a comment