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Blaine Forsythe


Below is an overview of the types of skills and schemes you may want to consider as your team progresses from 3rd through 8th grade.

This list is not comprehensive, but does include many of the most common elements you may want to incorporate into your coaching at some point. The tables give a rough approximation of when you may introduce an element to your team, but exact timing varies by team, coach and player so consider it a general guide (or lunch menu) for your practice plan and playbook.

Links are given below each section that lead to sub-pages that provide you more detail on each category and include some links to articles or videos that cover your options in more detail.

SHOOTING involves both Jump Shooting and Layups. It is critical that players learn the proper form and release early on and that all coaches within PHC teach it in a similar fashion.

BALL HANDLING involves both Dribbling and Passing skills. It is important to incorporate the most efficient and effective drills into your practices in order to develop these early and in the best order.

POST PLAY often isn't incorporated early on (3rd or 4th grade) but can be quite important later depending on your players. Developing the proper post setup, post moves and the ability to finish while contested near the rim is a key component for many of your players.

DEFENSE requires certain individual skills such as an athletic posture, proper footwork, proper positioning and awareness of the player you are guarding.

MOTION OFFENSES are great at getting everyone involved, letting the whole team touch the ball and have opportunities to be aggressive. As such these should function as your base offense. They can be susceptible to your "weakest links" against super aggressive defenses, however, and so situationally you may consider Set Plays.

SET PLAYS can allow you to get the ball into specific player's hands to help maximize the chance of scoring on a specific possession. These may be used more heavily against aggressive, strong defensive teams who cause a lot of problems with your base Motion offense. Running Sets too often makes them more predictable (unless you add a number of variants) and isn't ideal for development, but are critical to help handle certain situations where Motion may be struggling.

INBOUNDS PLAYS for both baseline and sideline inbounding are critical. At younger ages in particular, a high percentage of your points could come from having 3 or 4 good inbounds plays. These typically come from 3 or 4 base sets such as BOX, STACK, and LINE.

MAN DEFENSE does a great job at teaching the fundamentals and should be used as PHC's base defense. There are variants that can be used that make it act anywhere from very aggressive (with traps) to more conservative (Packline) with help defense approximating a zone.

ZONE DEFENSE works well situationally when your team is struggling to stop penetration, stop a good post, or stop the pick and roll. It can be susceptible to good outside shooting, and sometimes causes players to be more passive. Kids should be taught 1 or 2 zone defenses but PHC would prefer it not become your primary defense.

A zone inbounds defense (41) is included in this section for consideration, as it can be used even in tournaments not allowing zones (players match up after inbounds).

PRESSURE DEFENSE, whether man to man or zone in nature, is good for everyone to learn at this age, especially in 5th grade and beyond. Some things to consider, though, would be to: (A) not run it all the time but spring it on them and then pull it off, etc. (B) don't have to be all out aggressive with it and take chances of giving up layups necessarily, a passive version that keeps the ball in front of them can provide as much net benefit.