New topic

Home Forums Topics Player Development Player Development-7th & 8th Grade

Player Development-7th & 8th Grade

  • This topic has 5 replies, 4 voices, and was last updated 1 year ago by
Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
  • Author
  • #175740

    Hello Coaches, 

    Our team at Key5 would like to thank coach and Key5 member for the following fantastic question.  We would like to Key5’s Sam Allen’s response and like any of members to also weigh in. Thank you.  

    “Hello, I coach 7th and 8th grade girl basketball. I get hour and half practice. What fundamental drills would you suggest. I also figured out that some need to be hard then games so kids are more relaxed in games.”

    I am assuming you practice multiple times a week? Or is it just 1 practice a week?
    How I answer your question on what to do with that 90 mins of practice would vary some yet there are some things I will share you may want to consider implementing regardless of the answer to how many practices in a week.
    I would start with the question, “What do I want my girls to have learned and improved at the conclusion of the season?
    My answer would be something like this and I’d organize it this way…(see below)
    1) Become better ball handler, passer and finishers with both hands
    2) Understand basic offensive team concepts 
    a) (Spacing, 
    b) decision making with and without the ball, how to move without the ball either (when to cut, screen or stay spaced)
    3) How to be an impact defensive player. Personally, I would play 100% M-M pressure defense, both full court and half-court. This will help accelerate their growth, be more ready for HS basketball, and help our practices be more productive.
    1) Learn what being a good teammate means
    2) Learn what leadership is
    3) Know what competing is, looks like, feels like…have the tools to go do it.
    4) that being on a team requires you to put the team above yourself 
    1) Enhance what they are taught (hopefully) in their homes. How it’s important to know that life isn’t about them. Life is about others, not you.
    2) Understand that character/integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching and even when things are not going are way
    Okay, so after reading through those ideas, you can feel free to steal, borrow or tweak to fit your goals as a coach and program.
    A couple of additional thoughts for you as you build out your practice design. With girls (and guys), but even more girls, I would use a lot of games-approach to teach and build individual and team habits. I would play a lot of 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, 4v4 building into 5v5.
    The WHY is b/c girls need to learn how to develop instincts. I’ve learned the hard way of “over-drilling” female players with lots of fundamental drills on air. My practices looked great and were highly organized and efficient. However, when we got into a game, we got drilled by better teams because they couldn’t handle pressure or make a pass vs good on ball defenders. So, I have moved towards doing most stuff with live defenders. I use drills to supplement and aid what habits are not happening during the live play. And when you use games-approach, you are developing both sides of the ball (defense and offense). I call that cross-training. You can put limitations to draw out the habits you want. A few examples:
    1) Dribble limitations
    2) must Peek at rim every catch 
    3) Must cut on every pass
    4) Must box out to count as a stop on Defense

    I hope this serves and I wish you the best in your upcoming season.



    Excellent stuff @Sam Allen. The only thing I would add is Twist/Core passing. Women benefit by learning to use their core muscles to power passes, rather than relying on arm strength. Twist passing gets them strong with the ball and more used to snapping passes. My friends who coach women like the two handed overhead “soccer pass” for this same reason (although I discourage my boys from throwing it). Great passing can compensate for so-so ball handling.

    P.S. To encourage core contraction, I teach “Serenas” (the female equivalent of BRoys). Every woman knows the noise Serena Williams makes on every tennis shot. They love when I explain why (23% more powerful).


    Big fan of twist passing! – Female athletes definitely struggle to pass the ball hard. It doesn’t seem as natural for them to work on progressing their strength in this skill – we tell them to pass hard, but they don’t know what they’re missing – They also don’t work enough on catching hard/crisp passes.


    I coach same age 7th and 8th girls travel team. I always struggle with playing time. At what age should they start to accept roles and not get equal play time vs. let them all play equal and lose more games. At some point that will make the team better/deeper. But in the leagues/tournaments we play, the bench players will get dominated if too many are in at once. I try to rotate them in as much as I can without hurting the team, but not sure if that is the best practice. Some parents don’t see it that way. I usually have 12 players.


    Hey Monte,

    My apologies on being late to get to your question here regarding 7th and 8th travel team.

    There is multiple layers here and I will answer it in the way the we approach our BCB travel ball programs here in ATL. And I’ll additionally answer in the way that I read your question…sometimes in our questions, there can be deeper meaning.

    What has worked well for us:

    1- we do equal playing time in our travel ball teams that run from 4th grade all the way to 17U age groups. We do equal playing time on 2 conditions

    a) We play equal mins until the 4th quarter or if a 2 half game until what would be the last 25% of the game

    b) That is assuming that you have 1) attended practice,   2) given great effort/your best effort    3) being a good teammate   4) being coachable

    If a player is not executing on those 4 things, all bets are off and we don’t guarantee any playing time

    In the 4th quarter, we go with the 5 players that give us a best chance to win that game. Those 5 players can change game to game depending on performance, opponent and/or flow of game.

    We feel this approach allows for both development and not promoting a “Everyone gets a trophy” mentality. In life, you have to go earn things. If a player is unhappy with not closing games, that player (not parent) will learn to communicate with their coach. We feel that players need to learn how to have healthy, yet uncomfortable conversations with coaches and/or authority or people in general. This is a life skill that needs to be taught more.

    We recently (as in this past Spring) tried a tweaked approach of this:

    Equal playing time, except 4th quarter during pool play. Equal playing time for 1st half during bracket play and then 2nd half, play best 5 players.

    Now, all this can only work if the coaches/organization are really clear on the front end with communication. We have found that you have to communicate this with extreme clarity during the tryout, pre-commitment stage so that parents and kids know what they are signing up for.  There can’t be surprises. If parents are looking for something else or not aligned with the program vision, it’s better to find that out before you get started rather than 2 tournaments in and you have to deal with frustrated parents, thus long emails , texts or phone calls when you want to invest your time and energy into coaching and developing the kids.

    We aim to carry 10 players per team. We have carried 12 players as well. Through my experience, 10 is ideal, 12 is too many for games. 12 is fine for practice and may be even better than 10 because you can do more and protects against injuries, sickness or practice conflicts. 


    Ideally, you don’t have a big talent gap between top players and bottom players. Top players get frustrated with inferior talent and might jump ship to a better team the following year as you may have experienced. 


    The question you asked, “At what age should they start to accept roles and not get equal play time” …I am going to borrow from good friend and longtime PGC friend (current WNBA coach) Sefu Bernard.  WHO + WHY = WHAT + HOW

    I think it goes back to who are you coaching and why are you coaching….that should lead to what you do and how you do it. If the goal is to win every 7th and 8th grade tournament, don’t play equal playing time and play your best players. I would even cut down your roster to 8 players and roll. If your goal is to develop players, playing the 5 best players the whole game is probably not in line with that. Now, we use the model I outlined above because we want both. We want to develop players, teach kids how to compete, help them understand life isn’t always fair, sometimes you aren’t good enough and you have to work harder, and we want to go compete for championships as well in tournaments. We won’t let the desire to win get in the way of development however. We won’t play the best player who has a poor attitude because we want to win. 

    No system or model is full proof and has it’s shortcomings which ours does. We do think it’s pretty close to aligning our vision and values with the actual plan we lay out.


    I hope this helps Monte. I will stop there and feel free to ping me back with additional questions after you have read this.








    for some reason, the “like” Buttons have disappeared from the interface, but I “LIKE” this, @Sam Allen! Exactly the philosophy we employed in our MS travel teams, too.

Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.