This weeks Tribe Spotlight features Mike Hermann, the Audubon (PA) head 8 year old travel ball coach.
To give a little bit of background on myself, I am a father of three boys and my coaching experience to this point was recreational (intramural) teams for my kids up to the age of seven. In the spring of 2014, prior to the beginning of the season I started my preparation for the upcoming season. My first thought was to teach the plays I learned when I played in grade school and high school because that is what I knew best. Fortunately, late one night while I was on the internet looking up drills for youth basketball players I came across the Read and React.
My first thought, as noted in other Spotlights is that it is too easy to be effective, but the one thing I really clung to was the promise that it would allow me to spend more time on player development and less time on memorizing plays. At a young age, the most important thing is skill development.
I am fortunate enough to live in the same area as Dennis Stanton, a former professional basketball player who now trains players year round. In seeing the improvement in my sons when working with Dennis individually and at his camps, I wanted to apply those same concepts in my practices. In order to do this I needed an offense that I did not need to spend a lot of time on. So I purchased “the kitchen sink” summer special and started watching Read and React videos online.
The single most important video for me was a sample practice that Rick runs with 9 – 12 year old boys. I modeled my first practice after this, including the floor spots which are really helpful , although a little heavy. The kids picked it up for the most part on the first day. I am pretty detail oriented when it comes to practices as I have them all written out. Here is my first practice schedule to give you an idea of what we worked on and how much time we spent on the read and react:
6:30 – 6:40 Ladder Drills
- Forward Two feet in – two feet out one foot at a time
- Forward Two feet in – two feet out two feet at a time
- Side Ways Two feet in – two feet out one foot at a time
- Side Ways Kareokie
- One foot hops every square
- One foot hops skip a square
- Icky Shuffle
This set of drills will take place of a jog or anything else. It will help with quickness, foot speed and some balance in addition to getting them warmed up.
6:40 – 6:45 Superman Jumps
This is to try and help them with their footwork on layups. We have a mix of kids who can and can’t do this yet and even the ones who can don’t always do it right. They will simply take a step and jump off the proper foot.
6:45 – 6:55 Four Corner Full Court Layups
This will help with their dribbling and layups. We should stress the obvious stuff here. I want to set a goal of a certain number of makes in a certain amount of time. We can try to see how many makes they get in 1 min. Then see if they can beat it. I will keep track over each practice to see if they can beat their record.
6:55 – 7:45 Read and React
I want to use a lot of time this first practice to take our time and get this in their heads. We will go layer by layer. We are only putting in 3 layers. We will teach one layer then divide up into two groups and practice it for a few minutes. Then we will come back together to go over the next layer and split off again etc… If we think we are losing them at any point we can take a break and do a 3 on2, 2 on 1 or 3 man weave drill.
- Layer 1 – Pass and Cut
- Layer 2 – Post Pass and Cut
- Layer 3 – Dribble At
7:45 – 8:00 Dribble Drills
Here I am going to go over the drills I want them to do for homework and hand out the chart I want them to fill out each day. We will time them and get their initial score. I really want to stress that they are not trying to compete with each other, but trying to improve their own score from the day before.
So as you can see we spent 50 minutes to put in the offense (first 3 layers). The next couple of practices we spent about 45 minutes on it and then down to about 30 minutes. The most important thing for me was that this framework allowed me to spend time on basic individual skill development every other practice. We were lucky enough to practice about twice a week for 75-90 min. I would spend about 75% of the time on player development and about 25% on the offense. I also want to stress that Rick is 100% correct when he says the Read and React is a great shell offense for defensive drills. This turned out to be one of our teams greatest strengths. We were able to practice the offense and the kids did not really realize it as we were working on defensive positioning, closing out, and help defense.
The Read and React really teaches basketball concepts to foster good player development. It helps me put the kids in the best position to take advantage of their skills. We did not run it perfect, and we still made mistakes, but I thought our spacing was better than almost every team we faced and it paid off with winning or league championship on our way to going 21-4.
“I had the pleasure of working with Mike Hermann’s 8u travel a few times throughout this season. The first workout that I conducted with the team was about a month into their season. After 60 minutes of drills, I watched the team play 5v5 and work on their offense. After coaching at the collegiate and high school levels, I understand how challenging it is to teach motion offense. I was blown away by the structure, spacing and timing of their offense. Players new exactly where to go on the floor and played very well together. I was amazed how they grasped concepts of cutting backdoor at the right time, fill/replacing, and making plays for others. It was no surprised that they won the county championship and thoroughly improved throughout the season. I am very excited to see this team and their offense grow throughout the years! Mike certainly gets “it” when it comes to coaching youth basketball, as he did not put in 20 different sets and a variety of different press defenses. He taught them how to play basketball and gave them a terrific foundation to build on the most essential concepts of team offense.” – Dennis Stanton – Everylevelbasketball.com
With Dennis and Rick’s help along with a great assistant coach, Sean Kenney, we really had a great season and I think every one of my players improved. That was my primary goal from the beginning of the season. I can’t wait to add another few layers next year. Thanks to everyone over at Better Basketball for helping us have a great first season with the Read and React.