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.

May 24, May 31 and June 7 soccer games.

    It has been an odd few weeks. I have been lazy concerning my posts. I want to make it abundantly clear how proud I am of my girls. We are a U-13 team playing at the U-14 level. Not only are we playing but we are playing well. I am going to give brief synopsises of the last three games. Then a simple overview of what I liked and what has gone wrong. My last season as a volunteer has been incredible with the kids.

         The first game was a mess. We played U-14 soccer on a U-10 field, with U-10 nets. The one ref coached the team we were playing last year and the other played for the club 2 years ago. We knew we were up against it. We play 12 minute quarters and the quarter times went as follows, 1-12 minutes, 2-13 minutes, 3-14 minutes and 4-16 minutes. We went up early in the second on a nice breakaway by our forward. She hit a nice shot. We held them in check for the whole actual games. It was in the 15th minute of the 4th quarter that they scored. It was off a cheesy foul call and the kick was high. Our goalie got her hands on it but not enough. They got away with blatant pushing as well as tripping and dragging our kids to the ground. It was a struggle to keep our kids from retaliating. There was an altercation after the game where one of their players went after a parent. It was a mess. I reported the refs to the league office. This game was ridiculous. Score was a 1-1 tie.

The second game was an outstanding game. We had the chance to play 11 v. 11 and ran with the oppurtunity. We did not have any subs, but our kids played fantastic. I could not have been prouder. They dominated the first quarter, the ball was in our end for the majority of the quarter. Our defense bailed us out continuously. The second quarter was more in our favor. We kept it on their side or midfield for the majority but neither team could score. The ref said the game would come down to a fluke shot and it did. The third quarter was more of the same. Very even and well played. Half way through the fourth quarter they pushed it down into our box. We kicked it to the side, where one of their girls got off a hard shot. It hit off one of our girls, then one of theirs , hit our goalie in the face and went in. Nothing could have been done about it. We pushed them hard but couldnt score. We lost 1-0. Their were a combined 9 shots on goal for the game, 6 for them and 3 for us. It was a fantastic game. Although we lost our kids played very well. I was incredibly proud.

Our last game showed how far we truly have come. We were playing what was considered the strongest team in the league. We had an early break away in the first for a quick goal. They came back with a nice shot early in the second. Halfway through the third we hit on a nice crossfield pass and put in the oppisite corner. She really made the goalie look bad. Then we got another break away and our Mid hit a dribbler past the goalie. Their girls were getting very frustrated. We lost one of better defenders to injury in the first and one of our mids in the third. We were out of subs. So I told them to push it if they had it and if not waste away the clock. We did give up a goal on a beautiful rainbow shot over the goalie. One of our other defenders got hurt, but stayed in the game. After our defender went out in the first our defense was very weak. Our goalie saved at least 25 shots if not 30. She seriously bailed our girls out. We wasted the time away for a 3-2 win. It really showed how these girls can play through adversity.

We still lack consistency. We have a quarter every game that is way below how we play. But somehow, someway these kids pull it off. Our 2 losses this season were both 1-0. Our goalie has been great all season. Our defense has had one terrible game. Our offense gets lost at times but usually finds a way. Playing up a year has opened their eyes. They have realized what it takes to compete going forward. I believe in the system we have taught them, it is evolving with the addition of the cross field pass and allowing them to chip. I honestly believe that I have been lucky to coach this group of girls. We have one game left together. I hope we go out with a bang.

May 18 soccer game.

         We knew it would be a tough game. We were playing a travel team. I do not have one girl on my team who plays travel soccer. In fact they only played the last 3 years of spring soccer. But I have a fundamentally sound team with a ton of heart. We are a physical, aggressive team that lacks overall team speed. They can compete with anyone.

First quarter started with us with the ball. The other team quickly established their speed superiority. They played a similar style to ours, short to intermediate passing, aggressive defense forcing the ball outside. They also packed the field making the short passing game very difficult. We quickly took advantage of their overagressive defense. We got a quick break away, our best scorer had the ball, made a move, their goalie fell, our girl took one extra dribble shot!!! Was stopped by their goalie. Great stop by their goalie. They followed up with a break shortly after. They drove it, beat one of our defenders, took the shot, it hit our goalies hand and dribbled in. GOAL!!!!! They went up 1-0. We had 4 shots to their 3.

Second quarter they started with the ball. It was a great back and forth quarter. They had breaks, we had breaks and both goalies were playing off the charts good. We started going for the chip to loosen up their defense. It gave us some great chances but we just couldnt finish. They also started chipping and had some incredible chances, but both goalies were ridiculous. It got a little extra physical but the calls werent falling our way. Our buildup attacks were working up field but our shots just werent hitting. After 2 it was still 1-0. We had 5 shots on goal to their 5.

We started off with the ball in the third quarter. It was the same as the second. A tough, grind it out type of game. It became a game of break aways. We were close and so were they but nothing was happening. It was just give and take. They were our team, just alot faster. Their players were getting frustrated that they couldn’t pull away and ours were frustrated that they couldnt get it in the goal. There were a lot of nice passes and buildups, but both defenses were playing great. The goalies were dominating this game. Still 1-0 after 3. They had 4 shots on goal to our 2.

Fourth quarter was the same as the previous 3. A hard fought give and take game. Very physical, a lot of buildups being negated. As the quarter went on our girls really put the pressure on. We began moving it easily through their defense but they either came up with a defensive stop or their goalie would make a great play. We were close time after time. We really dominated the last 6 minutes of the game only to fall short. We lost 1-0. We had 6 shots on goal to their 2.

I am very proud of the way our girls played. Travel teams have a hard time beating each other, they should have really taken it to us. That either means they were not very good or we have really improved. Either way I walked away truly impressed with my team. I let them know how proud I was and how impressed I am by their heart and dedication. I am a lucky coach.

Saturdays Soccer game

          We came into this weeks game with excellent momentum. This week we were playing a team a year older then us and it was our first time, practice and games included, that we had out full roster. We always have our girls show up 30 minutes early to warm up. When they showed up this day, there was no get and up and go, they were very flat. I talked to them about it, but it seemed to reach deaf ears.

The other team opened up the game with the ball. Our girls made me eat my words, they came out on fire. First 3 minutes were dominated the ball, working it up with excellent passing and some smart soccer. The unselfishness was really on display, but their goalie stop several shots and a few other went off to the side. They kicked the ball far up the field, our one defender who is very passive, did not play aggressive letting them get a very nice break. Our goalie made an excellent stop. Our mid recieved the kick, drew the defender in and made a quick move. She went around the defender, slowly working up the side drawing defenders to her. She made a beautiful cross to the forward who one touched passed to the other forward, who just got her foot on it to redirect it. GOAL!!!! 1-0 we were up. A little while later our defender had a nice tackle, pushed it up field and made a beautiful pass to the mid. The mid passed to the forward who quickly gave it back to the mid, very nice give and go. The mid deeked a defender, faked a shot and passed a dribbler to our forward, who quickly passed to our other mid. The mid hit a dribbler right past the goalie. GOAL!!!!! We went up 2-0. The quarter ended soon after. We had 7 shots on goal to their one. Nice quarter.

Second quarter started and we immediately saw a different team on the field. Our girls were not aggressive, our passes were ugly. We were walking up and down the field. They started bringing the ball up the field and everyone of our players were moving backward, which is contrary to what I teach them. They brought the ball down the field against our very passive defense, pushed it to the middle and shot. GOAL!!!!! 2-1. Our goalie didnt even move. Our girls were recieving passes very badly. Balls were bouncing 5 feet off their legs and it was very ugly. Off of one of our turnovers they chipped it up the field. Our defenders jogged to the ball, while their players ran to it. We of course got beat to the ball and they pushed hard, shot from the box. GOAL!!!!!! 2-2. The rest of the quarter was complete dominance by them. We couldn’t get our girls to play our game. If our goalie didnt make some nice saves we would be way down. They had 6 shots to our 2. It was tied 2-2.

The third quarter started and looked just like the second. We had the ball longer, they got breakaways. We were walking, they were running. Our passing was nice but our receiving the ball was horrible. Maybe it was the heat, but we could not get them to play the game we taught them. They went back to just kicking the ball, not even looking to kick it to someone. It was very frustrating, we kept instructing and offering encouragement. The ref said he appreciated the coaching method. They finally got a break, our defender hustled back and got her foot on the ball. Ball bounced up and hit our girl in the hand. Penalty shot for them. The girl kicked it and our goalie looked like her feet were in concrete. GOAL!!!! 3-2 they were up. They got 3 shots on goal to our 3. 3-2 after 3.

I told the girls there are 5 things that go into each game. 1 the refs, cant control that. 2 is the effort, which you can control. 3 is the game plan, which wins games. 4 is luck, which goes both ways. 5 is who wants it more. I told them to show me. The team from the first quarter showed back up. Out of 12 minutes, 9 of them were spent on their end. We had one excellent oppurtunity after another. Our girls just didnt pull the trigger. When they did, the defense and goalie where fantastic. They had 2 breaks the whole quarter. Everything looked great but the finish. With about a minute left our mid and forward hit on a give and go. Forward took the shot and the goalie got her hands on it. The goalie hit the ground and the ball bounced out, right to our forward. She followed up and tapped it on. GOAL!!!!! 3-3 we tied it up. We dominated the rest of the quarter but couldn’t finish. We had 6 shots on goal,4 more outside it to their 2. We ended it a 3-3 tie.

They exploited our kids lack of enthusiasm. The 2 quarters we played our game, we were dominant. They dominated the second and despite no score in the third, we controlled the ball. Our recieving skills were lacking, as was a consistency effort. Our goalie got lazy at times, refusing to use the footwork and positioning we teach her. Every coach will have these games. It is up to that coach to find their way through it without alienating their players. We go into practice and work on these issues and go out next week playing hard. The tie was a loss to me, but you cannot question their heart when it came down to it.

This weeks Soccer game.

            I was a little concerned going into this game. We were playing a team that beat us the last three times and were still missing one of our better players. They are a good fundamental team who seem to have our number. Our practice this week was cut short and this week we had 2 subs. We have faced our issues positively this season and left it with the kids. It is their team, we are the guides, they have to consistently do what we taught.

They started off with the ball. They brought it down and were stonewalled by our defense. They controlled the ball but could not get it into the scoring area. About half way through the quarter we moved our center defender (we play a 3-2-2) up to forward and replaced a mid. Our center defender turned forward imeadiately payed dividends. Our defender made a beautiful stop, passed to our mid who started bringing it up. The kids immeadiately spread out. Three passes later our new forward recieved the ball just outside the penalty box, made a move, drilled it into the net. GOAL!!!! It was the only shot on goal the whole quarter. We were up 1-0.

We started off with the ball in the second quarter. Our defense was near impenetrable. In the 12 minute quarter, we had the ball for about 9 minutes, that is no exageration. We were moving the ball real well, the passing was incredible. Our girls were dribbling until the defender committed, then would pass. We may have turned the ball over twice on passes, the rest would be on the dribble. About 7 minutes in our defense made a great stop, the defender made an incredible pass leading our forward who caught up to it, dribbled, faked once, then again, leaving 2 girls wondering what happened. She faked a shot to the right and kicked it to the left. GOAL!!!! We went up 2-0. Their goalie was playing really well or we would be up by at least 3. She had at least 5 beautiful saves. We had 7 shots on goal to their 0. 2-0 at the half.

They started the third quarter with the ball. We quickly stole the ball, our mid drove it down the right side, faked a girl out, crossed beautifully. Our forward got her foot on it, refirecting it. GOAL!!!! 3-0. They started playing very timidly. They were waiting on our girls instead of attacking on defense. That allowed us to easily set up our offense. The same mid recieved a pass from our outside defender. She started bringing it up, their defense was backing up allowing her to continue driving up. She got to the side, faked out 2 girls and crossed. Our forward, another girl who normally plays defense, got her foot on it. GOAL!!!! 4-0. Our defense didnt even let them get downfield. Everything got stopped really early. After 3 quarters we were up 4-0.

We opened up the fourth quarter with the ball. The other team was giving up. They got a break and got their only shot on goal. It was easily stopped by our goalie. We quickly pushed the ball up the field, our mid took it to the side for another beautiful cross which the same defender as last quarter turned forward easily kicked in. GOAL!!!!! 5-0. We then moved all of our defensive players up to mid and forward. We moved our forwards and mids to defense. The other team stopped crossing midfield, I think they were looking for a morale victory by not giving up any more goals. We had a couple more shots which their goalie easily stops. We had 6 shots on goal to their 1. We won 5-0.

My girls played exactly like we taught them. We have preached and repetitively practiced these things over and over again. We spend a lot of time at practice in game situations. We constantly work on passing the ball. We work on positional defense constantly. It has come together in our first 2 games. Hopefully we can keep it headed in the right direction. Fine tune what we do and add more as we go. I am very proud of these girls. They have come a long way and keep improving.

Todays Soccer Game.

       We started our U-14 spring soccer season today. I was a little worried going into the game. We havent had a lot of practice and have never had a full team at practice. We had only one sub today and were missing one of our better players. I had several girls in different positions and a goalie that hasnt played since last spring. So my concerns were justified.

I have stuck with a 3-2-2 formation. I believe a strong defense will lead to solid offense. We play a possession game and use a short, quick passing attack. This is the first time we have had defenders bringing the ball up when they won it, caused a little indigestion. We also began incorporating the crossfield pass, only used once today. We are playing even more aggressively defensively this year. I am lucky as a coach to have a great group of girls.

First quarter started with them kicking off. First several minutes were a bit sloppy, both teams equally missing on passes. They started to control the ball. We were strong, forcing them to the outside, but their girl broke our defender down with a nice dribble move and put the ball just over the outstretched hand of our goalie. GOAL!!! That put them up 1-0. The rest of the quarter was back and forth, although the momentum seemed to be moving toward us. They had 2 shots on goal to our 1. 1-0 after the first quarter.

I let the girls know that I was proud of them whatever the outcome. I told them to play our game and we can compete with anyone. We started the Second quarter with the ball. Our passing attack looked great. We had 2 early shots, both nice stops by their goalie. Our defense was incredible, stopping their build-up, starting ours, cutting off their attack and getting in front of the ball. Our defender won the ball on the sideline, passed it to our mid, who one touched to our forward. Our forward used a nice hesitation move to beat her man, then passed to the other forward, who hit an immediate give and go. Our forward faked one more girl out and deeked the goalie. GOAL!!!!! We tied it up at 1-1. We really dominated the ball from then on. About a minute later we had a great buildup, 4 passes to move it into the box, or forward shot, it bounced off the goalie. Forward got it again, shot again, bounced off the goalie to our mid, who basically dribbled it in. GOAL!!!!!! We were now up 2-1. We had 5 shots on goal to their 2. Momentum seemed to be on our side.

Third quarter started with them kicking off. It was pretty uneventful for about 4 minutes. Then we broke out, shot, had it blocked, shot again and it went just wide. We were clicking on all cylinders, when we made a bad pass at midfield. They got an open run, which our defenders worked hard to shut down. The defender got her foot on the ball as the girl kicked it. The ball went high, landed, took an odd bounce and GOAL!!! It was tied 2-2. We had another break where we got 2 shots and went just wide. Otherwise our defense played well and our offense was moving the ball well. We had 4 shots on goal to their 3. It was tied 2-2 after 3 quarters.

We started the fourth quarter off with the ball. These girls were tired, but theirs were worse off. Our defense played spectacular and our offense was wearing them down. Both sides had several break aways that were stopped by solid defense. We were controlling the ball, getting solid build ups, we just couldn’t finish. With about 2 minutes left one of my girls was knocked to the ground, she made sure I knew it was the third time. I told her it was part of the game, take it out on them with your play. I put in my only sub, I had to because play stopped, according to the ref. The girl I put in then stopped an attack and placed a perfect pass to start a buildup. The buildup was stopped when they kicked it out of bounds. On our throw in, I put the girl who got hurt in. She received beautiful throw, dribbled down the field, took a shot from just outside the box, GOAL!!!!! We were up 3-2. The other team kicked off and the whistle blew to end the game. We had 1 shot on goal and they had none. We won 3-2.

It was a great game. The refs both said how well it was played. Both teams were fundamentally sound. They said how well my girls passed, as well as how unselfish they are. I am very proud of my girls. The unsung girls played great, as did the girls who normally are relied upon. These girls really stepped up. I have people tell me that I am a good coach, but no coach is good without great kids. All the credit goes to them. It is their team and I am but a guide. It was an incredible game.

Spring Soccer about to start.

           Spring Soccer is right around the corner. After the tough finish to the fall 2 of us decided to come back for the spring. It is definitely my last rec season. I may either take over or assist with the school team in the fall. So I am going to use the spring to fine tune the things I like and add new to keep ahead of the game.

I believe in a possession game of soccer. Offensively you need to limit turnovers, put pressure on their defense/goalie, short and quick passes and unselfishness. More passing then dribbling, use the dribble to draw them away from teammates and pressure, pressure, pressure. Good shots on goal in order to make the goalie move. As the season wore on teams began packing field in order to make the short passing difficult. To combat this we used the chip, it created more turnovers. This year I will preach the cross field pass. Bringing up a defender to relieve the pressure on our attackers and flipping the attacking field. I believe this is our next progression. As well as intermediate passing.

Defensively I preach ” Do not let them dictate to you, force them to make a decision. ” I want everything forced outside, defenders using the sideline as an extra defender. Nothing in the middle and when it does the defenders pinch close to muck up the scoring area. I do not want the defenders to attempt a tackle until the team defense is in position. I call it riding the offense to the sideline. Slow them down then attack the ball. Position first, attack the ball second. We have a slower group of defenders, so we would ask them to start the buildup only if they were open otherwise get it out of bounds. It worked for a while but now they need to be involved on offense.

We are faster then we were and our stamina is way better. We start off with stretches, jumping jacks, squats and then mountain climbers. I wanted to build strength in their legs as well as get them used to the burning of tired legs, it has worked, we have owned the fourth period. We then spring half the field, jog the next half, all the way around the field. Then set cones 10 yards apart, they sprint to the first, sprint back and do this for 4 cones. Then we sprint the field, do bow ties and finish with the 20 yard box. I want to move to more interval training and anaerobic sprint circuits. You need the stronger legs in the last 4 minutes.

In order to be a good coach you need to teach fundamentals, help them become faster, better stamina and stay ahead of other coaches. Always thinking. Talk to other coaches and even refs, they see alot. Help other coaches as well if they ask for it. Drills and small sided games help more then scrimmages without rules. Each scrimmage needs rules. Only 2 dribbles then you have to pass, the whole team including goalie have to touch it for a goal to count or even goals only count off of crosses or give and goes. I am very excited for the spring season. I think it will be alot of fun.

Just remember, quick accurate passing, constant pressure and force them to take bad shots. Then you have a chance.

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.