A non-profit youth sports organization targeting underprivileged youth. Great idea. But can I do it?

        I live in a Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. It is a lower income city, in the northeastern  part of the state. We are about 15 minutes from Scranton and about 90 minutes from Philadelphia. At one point it used to be a nice place to live but over the years it has become crime ridden. In fact it is number 18 on the list of top murder cities, did I say that right. Everyday the drug use and crime seems to sucking up another kid and spit them out. There isn’t an inexpensive   place for a kid to play and learn fundamentals in a sport. The cheapest  basketball is $50 bucks at the CYC, a place where the refs told me if they called every foul there would be no score. This is an instructional  league. Any type of travel team or AAU  team gets very expensive. Many of the kids around here are unable to play because of their financial  situation. You would think the YMCA or CYC or someone  would offer a spring program or summer program at an affordable  price. They do not. Nor does the city. I wrote my Congressman Matt Cartwright  several days ago asking him for some direction  and he never responded. Who is there for these kids?

         I want to start a non-profit  youth sports organization  for underprivileged  children. I want to concentrate  on 2 sports, basketball and soccer. Those are the 2 sports you need the least amount of equipment for. Less money for families to spend. I want to offer these kids an option other then drugs, drinking, fighting, gangs or whatever else they may get into. I want to offer a kid the same opportunity  a wealthy kid gas, why punish a child for a parents station in life. I see so many incredible athletes who lack the fundamentals of their sport. For basketball at the CYC, you get 1 hour of practice a week. You get the privilege of playing school teams who practice quite a bit more. Many kids spirits are crushed because of this. A kid who I’d fundamentally sound can compete with less talent, causing that kid to carry better grades, stay out of trouble and stick with their commitment. I don’t think we should be getting wealthy off of kids playing sports, AAU and travel soccer teams. Why aren’t the kids coming first?

          I want to be able to defer cost through federal, state and corporate grants. I want this to focus completely on the forgotten youths of a dying city. Anyone who has played a sport will tell you that it helps you in many other aspects of life. You learn a work ethic, discipline, teamwork, confidence and make lasting friendships. Through all of this you avoid trouble or you cannot play or be with these friends. Some kids can get an athletic scholarship because of this, some will get an academic  scholarship because they work harder to keep good grades because they want to play and go to college. It changes how many kids life daily. Why not offer a program that helps them?

         When the kids would enter are program there will be certain obligations  they must meet for us to defer their costs.
1) They must maintain a B average in school. If I a kid needs help, I would like to offer a tutoring program. Education is the key.
2) They must stay out of trouble. Any detention or suspension will be met with the same at our program. If it us a continuing problem we will refer it to a facility to help. We will try not to leave a kid behind. But they must realize there are repercussions for your actions.
3) They will be required to do volunteer work at a soup kitchen or any other program that requires volunteers to help the needy. To teach them empathy, compassion  and remind them that there are people who have it worse. After my daughter did these with the Key Club at G.A.R. High School she couldn’t wait to go back to help again.
4) To participate and help organize community outreach programs periodically. Several times a year. Anything to reach out to help those less fortunate, even if it is a free basketball or soccer tournament. Through this they will hopefully take pride in their community and look for ways to help improve it.
5) Summer programs and clinics that the kids can help teach. Teach them to give to others in order to help them improve their situation.
Most importantly I want to keep them off the street and out of trouble. Have impromptu  3 on 3 basketball  tournaments, 5 on 5 soccer tournaments. For those that want to play AAU or travel soccer, we will offer those programs but ask the kids to hand out flyers or participate  in fund eaising, all with a qualified adult present. I would like in the summer to offer child care to low income families. Several hours a day. Introduce them to a sport, get them outside and active. Have dodge ball tournaments. We need to fight childhood  obesity  as well.

            I would also like to offer affordable clinics for coaches. Youth coaches effect a child more then many people realize. It would help if they had proper training that didn’t eat up a lot of their time or money. Youth coaches are typically volunteers. They deserve some thanks in this grueling process. The better the coach, the better chance a child has. I want to build a facility  with several indoor courts, several outdoor courts, 2 high school size soccer fields and 2 small children soccer fields. Maybe I am being naive, but I believe this is needed where I live and in most other areas. Why can’t we be the template everyone else follows? I know some areas offer something similar to this. Now is the time for Wilkes-Barre  to offer it.   If you want to take your community back, wouldn’t this be a great jumping off point? Now to figure out how to get it done. Any ideas?

Our 5th and 6th grade girls basketball season.

          I signed up to help coach my daughters basketball team this season. It was my second time coaching basjetball, my first was coaching a 7th and the grade school team. For that school team we had 5 practices before the season started and 2 a week. Definitely  not enough to compete against teams practicing all week. Our team is a group of girls who were put together on a team. They recieve 1 hour of practice a week. Yet the we’re bumped into the school 5th and 6th grade league, against several schools who have practiced daily, as well as being together since 2nd grade. They were also cherry picked teams of the best kids they had. We were up against it.

         We begged and pleaded to get more practice time. We got 1 extra hour. Out of our 2 practice hours, one was on a half court. The only other team that practiced there had full court. Our head coach preferred to scrimmage and I prefer drills with rules in a scrimmage. During practice I would run drills to improve fundamentals ; dribbling, passing , shooting, boxing out, rebounding and off ball movement. I would try to combine them into one drill in order to make the most of our time. The only place we did not see dramatic improvement was our shooting. They jumped from 8 foot to 10 foot rims. The adjustment period has been tough on them. We worked on adjusting their shots  one girl double clutched every shot. Very difficult  to work with in 2 hours, but we made progress.

       Our 2-3 improved dramatically  over the season. First game all of our points were given up in transition. Our second group of girls had difficulty  learning the close out, then returning to their spot. Our guards played well, although they left the middle open quite a bit. Our center was very good but we were a team of 5th graders playing the majority of 6th graders. I know it seems like lame excuses, but their guards were taller then our center. We played well despite the odds. The kids never quit. We had 3 games where we got trounced and we were just over matched in those games. St season the 2 guards ran everywhere while the 3 down below stood there. It was a difficult learning curve for them. They shpwed a ton of improvement as the season went on. Very proud of them.

        Offensively we did not have much to build on. Last season the guards did the work while the big stood and watched. We taught themscreens, give and goes, V-cuts, pass and move and just general smart off ball movement . Because of the lack of time and their difficulty  understanding how to use a 1-3-1 to break the 2-3, we had to run some very generic movements. We referred to it as the curl and screen. The wings curl down under the basket to the other side. We would set a high screen and a low screen to cause the close out to fight through a screen. The only issue is we could not make our shots, otherwise it worked. We got a lot of open shots that were either air balled or bricked. One girl scored about half of our points, she took smart shots and worked into the middle. The big thing was the growth, they were setting screens, passing improved in games, shot selection for the most part was good and the dribbling improved. They also started doing things on their own. One quick example; they came down court, set the screens inside the top 2 in the zone, point guard dribbled in, drew in the defense and lob passed to our center. Who missed, but it was what we were looking for.

         We did win 1 game, suprisingly, even the guy in charge of the league was suprised  we won at all. All season we told them not to look at the score board, wins in 5th grade basketball are not important. This is where you set the foundation  for everything you do going forward in basketball , work ethic, attitude, skill and sportsmanship is built here. Throughout a 10 game season we went to the free throw line for 10 shots, yes 5 times total. Referees there were not good. It was a learning experience  for me, how to bend and mend in order to get 11 year olds to practice hard, to cement in their heads that you play like you practice. It clicked for some, others not so much. It was a season of growth, despite the fact I seem bitter, I am not. I am trying to be honest and I would be remiss if I didn’t admit to being disappointed  in myself. I let them down at times, as all coaches do, my practices were not planned out properly, wasting precious time and I didn’t put my input in on out lineups, despite disagreeing with how we started the game. We will be playing in a few tournaments  against some of these good teams, yes it will be a learning experience  on how to grow and play for them. But as it is said, iron sharpens iron. The better we play against the more they improve.

Coaching 5th and 6th grade girls basketball.

         My youngest daughters basketball team joined a summer league. Her coach asked me for help and i gladly helped. My main objective was to get them as fundamentally sound as 1 practice every 2 weeks could get them. We worked on dribbling, boxing out, simple off ball movements, passing and how to move their feet on defense. We only had 4 or 5 kids at every practice. We taught them how to screen and specifically the high screen and roll. I really enjoyed every practice i did with them. What was being taught truly improved in those areas. I had the oppurtunity to coach one game this season. We played the best team in the league, who beat us 48-6 the first time. All of our kids are going into 5th grade and there is one going into 4th grade. The whole other team is going into 6th grade. Size difference was big.

There are 9 kids on the team and only 4 or 5 show for practice. Before the game i went over the Diamond full court press and the high pick and roll with the back door cuts. I didnt expect perfection. In fact I would have been happy with the pick and roll happening 10 times. The other team won the tip and drove right down and scored. On the inbounds we were pressed and any cut or inbound play that was taught went goodbye. We had 4 turnovers and went down 10-0. I was going to call a timeout but I figured with it being a summer league and learning experience let them play through it. We had several more turnovers, went down 18-0 when they finally calmed down. We inbounded, pushed up the court, ran a nice pick and roll but the ball was thrown out of bounds. We went into the diamond press and stole the ball, missed a layup, got the rebound then scored. The rest of the half was back and forth, very fast and sloppy. We were down 24-6 at the half.

At the half I just calmed them down, explained what went right and what went wrong. The list of wrong was a bit longer. I just tried to build their confidence up and play our game. I told them to play a high speed game and to keep running. Press, press, press and create turnovers. They started the second half with the score 0-0, it is an instructional league. I was impressed with how they did in the second half.

The other team came out and scored the first 5 points. I called a timeout and stressed helping each other on offense, setting a screen and off ball movement. From that point on we outscored them 10-8, still lost the half 13-10 and game 37-16 but I saw a lot of good things. The press worked great when they were all on the same page, about 3/4s of the time. Didnt create a turnover every time but we created a lot of traps and even a few designed 2 traps before half court. Ball handling and passing was still sloppy. But there were 6 high screens and 3 low screens, I was very impressed. Usually the guards do all the moving and the bigs stand and wait. Not my team. We created a lot of turnovers but had a lot in return. Free throw shooting, boxing out and rebounding were all strong. They just couldnt get the shot off low and didnt pass out. All in all we gave them a run in the second half, it was their closest half all season. The girls seem to get intimidated but we will fix that.

I know it was a loss and moral victories are a coach searching for good things but i honestly did see good things. They are improving. I have a long way to go as a basketball coach but I will do the work gladly. I was a little slow on some in game decisions and maybe stayed to long in the press but i thought it was our best shot. Make it a sloppy fast game and take them out of their offense. Second half was good, first not so much. I am trying for local high school coaching jobs so thing like this can only help. It was a trying, yet enjoyable experience.

Our last Soccer game.

        It took me awhile to write this because of the emotions of it all. This was going to be our last season together. When we took over these girls were lost on the field. We took a lot of time and work to get them right. They were really hard workers and a great group of girls. They were very upset about us leaving but it is time for a new voice. Our last game we played the team we played in our first game. The team that stacked their roster in last years Countu Cup. We beat them every other time but in that Cup game.

First quarter opened up with us with the ball. We dominated possession for the entire quarter, they only got in our attacking third once. Our passing was on point and our defenders were shutting everything down. Our left outside defender won the ball at midfield and pushed it up, sucking the defense in, then passing to our mid. Our mid hit a quick give and go with our forward who hit a beautiful cross to the other mid. She put in a beautiful shot over the goalie. Goal!!!! We were up 1-0. Despite our possession dominance we only had 4 shots on target to their zero.

Second quarter was the complete opposite. They dominated possession, mostly brcause of our sloppy play. The sloppy play was from our defenders to our mids. They won a lot of touches on our side of the field leading to a plethora of challenged shots. Our goalie played great. With about 2 minutes left our goalie punched a shot out, it rebounded off of a defenders back to one of their forwards. She kicked it, our goalie blocked again, bounced back to one of their girls who kicked it in off our goalies finger tips. Goal!!! They tied it up 1-1, through no fault of our goalie. As soon as we kicked to start off we started a quick back and forth passing attack. Everyone of our attackers touched the ball, our mid took the shot from the 18 and put it right past the goalie. Goal!!!! We went ahead 2-1. They had 9 shots on goal to our 2, but we were still ahead.

Third quarter opened up and we were back in charge. We were wearing them down. They had 2 subs but had an ankle injury early in the third and a girl got hit in the belly by a kicked ball and had to go to the hospital. Early in the third we got one of our rare breakaways. Our forward made the best of it. She faked out two girls hit a shot from inside the box that made the goalie look silly. Goalie went in the wrong direction, it was a perfect shot. Goal!!!! We went up 3-1. We continued wearing them down with good passing and shots, their goalie played well. We had 5 shots on goal to their 2.

At the end of the third quarter their girls were walking off the field. I told my girls to jog off, which they did, further demoralizing them. We started off the fourth in dominating fashion. Our defender stole the ball, started pushing up the sideline, passed to our mid who beat one girl. She then crossfield passed to our other mid who hit a cross to the far post where our forward touched it in. Goal!!!! We were up 4-1. Minutes later we stole it at midfield our mid chipped it forward and our forward won the break and shot it past the goalie. Goal!!!!! 5-1 we were up. We moved our defenders up to forward and mid, put the goalie out there on the field and I told them to substitute for whoever they wanted. These girls were uncomfortable with that. We had 10 shots on goal to their zero. Most were by our defenders.

We ended up 4-2-2 playing up a year. Both our losses were 1-0. We even tied a travel team. This was an awesome group of girls. For all they learned from me, they helped me through a bad time in my life. I have had 6 surgeries on my back and cannot do much of what i used to do. I found a calling, found my way through my depression and helped these kids on and off the field. For me, I love coaching but I dislike dealing with parents who cant get their kids to practice. That bothers me and lets down their teammates. I am trying to coach either basketball or soccer at the high school level. I will miss all of this girls dearly. I hope what we taught helps them in the future. I look forward to reading about their sports exploits in the paper. This chapter is closed, on to the next. Currently I am helping out with a girls 5th and 6th grade basketball team. I am enjoying that and have made significant progress with the girls. Will write about that soon. Thanks.

My plan for our Basketball team.

       It is the second season our school has had a 7 and 8 grade girls team.  Last year they scored one basket the whole season. They didnt much direction. They had 2 practices a week, just like we did. They had 3 practices before the season,   we had 5. The teams we play against practice 5 days a week and had a month of preseason conditioning. To say we were behind the 8 ball is an understatement.

Upon speaking with the athletic director we are trying to get more practice time. We do not have our own gym yet. We have seen significant improvement from most of our players, in most areas of the game. They work hard, play hard and take coaching for the most part. It hasn’t been easy, but i have started a plan. We started an offense and have begun to outline our practice plan for next season. It has been a rough season, but I have learned quite a bit.

To start the preseason we are going to work fundamentals, as any coach would. Then we will install our 2 offenses. We are going to run a 3-2 motion offense, with a high-low post and backdoor cutters. It is a little hard to teach at first, but once it clicks it is good. It depends quite a bit on screens and your players reading the defense. Our zone offense will be a 1-3-1. The key is the girl on the free throw line and the girl underneath. Both players need to move to the ball side, the underneath player needs to creep behind the defense. We have worked quite a bit on the press break, but oily t hasn’t completely clicked yet.

Defensively I want to stick with a 2-3 defense. When we use it our perimeter defends well but our backline does not rotate quick enough. I prefer this defense because of the lack of athleticism. The head coach prefers a 1-3-1 defense. I think it is a gimmick defense, it works well when it works, but when it doesn’t it doesn’t. We have been putting the girls in a man to man defense to teach them personal responsibility. It has worked in that regard, but it exposes our lack of athleticism. I prefer to press with the guards and have our 3 at half court.

Transition defense has hurt us really bad. We have one girl who gets back. I have to make that a focus from day one. With a year of experience under our belt we will be in a better place to begin next season. The program hasn’t gotten a win yet. I hope next year to get that win. But we shall see.

Our Basketball season up to now.

I knew we were in for a difficult season. We had about 5 practices before the season and zero preseason conditioning. It was our schools second year fielding a team and my first year coaching basketball.Our head coach has coached for awhile but it was only younger kids.

Our school had a combined budget of $5,000 for the girls and boys programs. We do not have our own gym, so we had to practice elsewhere. Between that and transportation our budget was gouged. We had 2 hour and half practices a week. I worked in as much fundamentals as I could. The head coach wants constant scrimmage. We get nothing out of them because there was nothing in place to work with.

The head coach wanted her kid to be the star. I had to inform her that she was not our best player. We also have a child who refuses coaching. If anything is said to her, she immediately takes it as a personal attack. When we took measures to curb her attitude and lax practice habits, her mother went on the attack. When she didnt get the right answer from the head coach, she went to the athletic director, when he didnt givec the right answer she went to the principal, who entertained her thereby undermining any other authority. It was a major issue, that was eventually ironed out.

We were not competitive. We were playing a 2-3, which we played solidly but our transition defense was atrocious. Despite drilling them to at least get one back, only one kid bought into it. Our perimeter defense was stout. Inside our girls didnt jump for rebounds or shift quick enough. At least 70% of the points we gave up were in transitions. The head coach switched us to a 1-3-1 and that got tore up, but she refused to switch out of it.

Offensively we are a complete mess. I wanted install an offense, coach was against it. I wanted to have plays, coach thought they would take up to much time. 6 games into the season she bought into the plays. We had 2 plays put in based around picks and motion. First game we ran it we had 27 shots, many of them wide open. The next day we played, the kids couldnt run the plays. We are running a 1-3-1 against the zone. It works well when they play it. It has been frustrating up to now. I give them simple assignments and then refused to do them.

I have begun installing a 3-2 motion offense. High and low post, overloading the ball side, with weak side backdoor cutting. The motion is there, they are setting picks and are now being more unselfish. The motion alone is an improvement, they do not move or come to the ball. We are not a good shooting team. I have done alot of work with their shots, they are not pushing off their chest anymore. We are hitting the rim more, not as many airbags. They know how to do a layup now.

We have seen incremental progress. I have kids crossing over, driving the lane when its there, taking smarter shots and there is more teamwork. The head coach and I are working way better together now and it shows. I am not a good coach, I am an improving coach, as is our head coach. Repetition is the key here. More practice time is also key. All I can hooe for is that they continue to improve. Hopefully we get more time next year.

Our first basketball game.

        I am not going to lie and say that I was oozing confidence. We had 7 1 and half hour practices, it was our first year in the league and the players knowledge was pretty weak. The Head Coach didn’t want to put in an offensive system because it would eat up the clock. I asked to go over the defenses, have a dry run and was told they were aggressive enough. I taught the kids a way to break the press by using picks or screens and movement. As you can see the kids werent working with much.

They won the tip off, kids didn’t play defense and they scored. Our girls forgot the press break and stood there waiting. Before you knew it we were down 8-0. I told the Head Coach to call a timeout and went over the break with them. We were able to inbound it but not move it up the court. The 2-3 defense turned into part man, part zone. One girl literally chased the ball all around the court. The spot she vacated in the zone was where they scored from. We were down 20-0 after one.

We came out in the second and were able to inbound and push it up the court. Very early in the quarter they stopped pressing. Our defense started to stay in position, except for our one outside on the back 3. Instead of covering the three point line on the back half, she would worry about the girl by the basket. She should have passed that on to the center. We stopped their fast break and it became more of a half court game. It was 26-2 at the half.

In the third and fourth quarter our lack of a half court offense was evident. We missed 4 free throws because the girls stepped over the line. Our center would not play her zone on defense and there was absolutely no court awareness whatsoever. At least 5 times we were caught from behind and had the ball stolen. I was calling for picks to no avail. Asking out bigs to establish position on the ball side to no avail. Asking for penetration again to no avail. We could not call a play because the girls wouldn’t listen. All this being said they never quit. We lost 36-6.

It was very frustrating, mostly because I wanted to approach these subjects, but was instructed not to. We play again tomorrow, I hope we learned from this. They need to play with a sense of urgency. I am sure we will see some improvement, but will it be enough.

Our first 2 Basketball practices.

      We started practice this week. We have 2 practices a week, for about an hour and half each time. I am the Assistant Coach and have never coached basketball before. Our first practice we made them run suicides and laps. Then ran a scrimmage in order to get a grasp of their skills. I was a bit disappointed that we did not run any drills at our second practice. We had them shoot some layups, 2 vs 2 and another scrimmage.

First I will go with the positives. They rebound well, hustle and have a grasp of the 2-3 zone, as well as the man press. They are not afraid to shoot, although they do not make many shots. We have some height, some speed and some kids who just started playing. They are aggressive and are more than willing to go to the floor for the ball.

Now the negatives. They cannot make a shot past the foul line. They do not know what I mean when I ask them to cut. They do not move without the ball or box out. Do not know what it means to post up, have only ever learned one play, the split. The left side of the floor is not used, all of them dribble directly to thev right side into the corner. Our ball handling is very shaky. One girl throws up shots from anywhere and has only hit the rim on 3 of 17 shots.

I believe in being fundamentally strong. My drills will first focus on good ball handling, then move on to moving without the ball and then learning post position. Then I want to install a 3-2 motion offense and focus on the 2-3 zone defense. Hopefully I can help improve their shooting as we go. This is our schools inaugural season and hopefully we are at least competitive.
Most of the teams we are playing have been practicing 5 days a week for over a month. Hopefully I can get the Head Coach to buy into this, because there does not seem to be a plan.

I have never watched basketball at this level before. It is very chaotic and messy. It is hard to get a grip on. Slowing it down does not seem to be an option. If anyone reads this and had any suggestions please send them my way. I would greatly appreciate it.

Soccer Tournament

        It has been awhile since I have posted. The Tournament was very difficult to swallow. Our girls left it on the field and unfortunately the refs took the chance of winning away from them. I know it sounds cliche, but I do not normally complain about the refs. I realize they have a hard job, but consistent calls are what I am looking for, as would any coach or player. The coach from the other team said the ref blew at least 6 calls that should have gone our way, especially the last call.

Our first game was incredible. It was a back and forth affair. We were losing 1-0 until the third quarter. Our girls had 3 give and goes down the side and put a shot just over the outstretched hands of the goalie. We then scored in the fourth quarter to go ahead. We ended up giving up a goal with a minute left. This is where the calls got questionable. The girl fell, hit the ball with her towards her teammate who kicked in the goal. I don’t know if it was intentional or not. I thought it should have been called and the ball should have been ours. Maybe I am wrong, if you read this and know for sure let me know. We went into overtime and played a scoreless 5. Started the next one and it was scoreless with 12 seconds left when the next call hit us. The ref on the other side didn’t make a call the entire game, called tripping right outside the box. Giving them a direct kick, which of course went in and ended the game. I saw plays like that go uncalled all game, to call it there was very inconsistent and cost young girls the game. The ref cost us that game in my opinion. We lost the win on a shady call and the game on another. Our girls were crushed. We lost 3-2. Other than those calls it was a great game.

Our second game was the next day. We have not had much succes against this team. Lose to them by one goal each time. It was another great game. They went up 1-0 real early in the first quarter. From there we played great defense. Our offense was being held up again. The other team was packing our side of the field, making the short passing game harder to use. So we made an adjustment. When they pulled up like that we started chipping it. That caused several scoring opportunities and opened up the field. It was a very physical, a lot of pushing on both sides that wasnt called. Arms out pushes to the back, by both teams, no calls. It was consistent. Once our short passing game was opened up we began to control the game. We finally scored a goal in the fourth quarter to tie it up. We went into overtime. With a minute and 45 seconds left we gave up a goal. Our girls got right back at it. It was down to 25 seconds our girl passed into there penalty box where it hit there girl on the arm. She put her arm in front of her when it hit and they got the ball. HE DIDNT CALL THE HANDBALL. If he went by the rules the handball wouldn’t be called if we retained possession, but we didn’t. After the game my assistant and I were asking him why he didn’t call it and he ignored us. When we got right to him ge said he didn’t call it because she bent backwards. The coach from the other team said it should have been a penalty kick. We may not have made the PK but she should have had the opportunity. We lost the first game 2-1 and the second one 3-2. Both directly effected by the refs calls. I was told the refs were trying to stay out of the games unless the fould were egregious.

Because of how the season ended I decided to come back and coach. This may seem harsh but I am only saying it to explain our philosophical changes for next year. Our team gave up 27 goals. 21 were given up when one girls was on the field and 17 were directly effected by her. Meaning they came on her side. I did not say this to her but I did discuss it with my coaches. She did not take coaching and refused to put herself between the goal and the offensive player. That being said we need to hide her elsewhere. We put her back on defense hoping our other defenders could bail her out, in the end it didn’t work. We were reluctant to put her anywhere else because she wouldn’t move up and down the field at mid and wouldn’t shoot at the goal at forward. Then she gets angry when you coach her.

The big change in philosophy is moving that girl to forward and putting a better ball handler back on defense. This will give ud a strong defender who can push the ball up the field. We lack team speed and our defenders are generally slower, which puts us at a disadvantage trying to have them push the ball up the field. If we put a faster player back with good ball handling skills, teams will have to adjust to that. By doing this we are putting offensive responsibility on the defense. Hopefully opening up the field for our mids, creating more scoring oppurtunities. I have a lot of faith these changes will work. We began having the defense do it this year; we were just a little to slow to push it farther up the field. It also fell on the mids who didn’t work back to recieve the pass from the defense.

There will be several other changes but that is the major change. Throughout the season I noticed a shift in the way other teams played. The long kick was moved away from to a shorter more controlled attack. One coach told me he liked our style of play and altered theirs to a system along the lines of ours. I was very flattered. We also had several referees say how well our girls passed the ball. I am very proud of my girls, they have come a long way. The last game at half-time I told them the game was on them, they knew what to do. They did it. They left it all on the field and cried afterwards. They care about not just winning or losing but about how to play the game. I feel that we have done pretty well up to now. So for now I will be coaching girls basketball and will be back in the spring for soccer. I will begin blogging about basketball soon. Thank you gor reading.

The last 2 weeks of the Soccer season.

           I have had to take a bit of a break from talking and writing about soccer. The school team for my daughter ended up 0-12 and were outscored 108-8. It was very difficult to watch and had a horrible effect on the girls who played for my Rec team. I had to sit down and reevaluate what we were doing, to find the key to bring them back. A bit of soul searching and speaking with my assistant coaches, not to mention tweaking practice may have gotten it done.

Last week I was very disappointed in how my kids played. A short summary of the game follows. Our girls were not moving without the ball and there was walking all over the field. Our goalie scrapped her footwork and just about everything else we taught her for a much lazier version. Our defenders were not getting position abd our offense was just kicking the ball, no idea where it was headed or who was there. There was one excuse after another and it was easily their worsr performance since we took over. We went down really early and the girls seemed to give up. We lost 3-0 and out of the 3, one was a beatiful shot. The other 2 hit our goalies hands and bounced into goal. We literally beat ourselves.

Today our kids showed some incredible resilience. We started slow, which we tend to do. They were playing well for the most part. Girl from the other team hit an incredible shot from the side, it was beautiful, our goalie didn’t have a chance. We came right back to tie it up. Second quarted our goalie was a bit ill and we had our backup in, she did a fantastic job but still gave up 2 goals. Our girls came right back to tie it up. In the third quarted the other team went up again. The fourth quarter our girls killed it. The moved the ball up the field, passing beautifully. Short, quick, accurate passes to cause the defense to move. We came back to win 5-4 against a quality team. These girls never showed any quit and were completely different than last week.

I believe in aggression on defense, put the pressure on and force them to take a shot or pass they dont want to. I always tell them if you get beat taking position and aggressively defending I will not say a word. One girl on defense stood there and watched a girl take a tea break in the penalty area in front of the goal. She did not even move. We immediately pulled her and spoke to her on the sideline. I told her that we teach you this way because this is what works for us. My assistant spoke to her as well and after that she had a great game.

It is tough finding the happy medium between fun and teaching, as well as that right touch of discipline. We want them to play within a system tailored around their particular athletic talents. To sell a kid on this takes some doing. They see big kicks from other teams and want the same. But you also need to be flexible enough as a coach to see when that long kick is necessary. We start our County Cup next week and I hope we can kee p this girls on track. The 3 years before we took over they won 3 games combined. They were resigned to losing each Saturday. Their confidence has grown, but has been shaken recently. We need to keep that up.

In a few weeks I hope to be starting as an assistant coach for our schools girls 7-8 grade basketball team. I hope it works out and I get it. After the County Cup my soccer coaching is over until I can catch on with a high school team. I really would like that challenge, I want to see if I could help them as well. It was a frustrating week, but I believe I found the right way to get this done. I will be writing again this week and am up for whatever challenge is thrown at us next.