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January 19, 2016

Man Up

Man Up

TEAM TUESDAY – I have no problem calling it or hearing it as Man Up, Woman Up, Player Up, Human Up, or Straight Up 1 Defense. I just wish I heard it and saw it more in youth basketball.


Let’s start with what is happening, especially in NYC, the capital of the Press the Mess Out of the Other Team, Score Lay-Ups, Go Up by 20-40 points, Fall Back, and Never Run an Offense. NYC is filled with Drivers and Chuckers.


So few players know how to move. So few players know anything about mechanics of shooting, spacing, footwork and form, and it’s all because they spent most of their youth years with a false sense of security thanks to trapping zone presses and defenses.


A trap is when two kids go right at one youth player. A zone trap is not the same as young kids learning true accountability, which is man-to-man, player-to-player, woman-to-woman defense.


Against zone presses, young kids don’t have the arm to get the ball long distances on diagonals that you need to hit on the classic 1-3-1 bully and pounce full court or half-court press.


After going up by 20 points, many youth coaches act like they are being good sports. They have their kids back into a half-court trap. Instead of falling back into a sagging man and working on the Shell Drill and boxing out, and finding out who really gets containment, footwork, rotation on D, help and recover, they weaken their kids by keeping them in the pounce and trap mode.


Granted, I wish most of my kids pounced at the sign of weakness. We stay in man, and I call out Tennessee when I want them to test the lanes, apply pressure, and Northwestern when I want them to play smart containment D and not risk losing position. Let the other team make the mistake.
The solution is to teach kids to Man Up. Woman Up. Player Up. If a coach doesn’t, then a player always relies on a buddy to help him bully instead of learning how to move his feet, contain a player, be accountable while also understanding how to cover a teammate who gets beat.


At some point the trap will not work or the players on the floor will be trying out for a real program that teaches kids several different types of defense all of which are predicated on the fact that every kid needs to know how to contain 1-on-1. At the higher levels – even high school – you can’t leave guys open like you do in these youth basketball traps. You have to show you can contain in 1-on-1 drills. The vast majority of college and pro teams cannot press effectively. If you see a press, it’s because they have crazy, long and fast bigs to back up their lightning quick guards. And it’s to temporarily disrupt or throw a team off even just a few possessions. The other team breaks it, you fall back, then you slap it on them and see if they remember how to break it again or it takes them a few possessions to right the ship. A few teams can keep the heat on all game, but not many.
Bottom line is that eventually good players, great programs and teams know the laws of common sense. (And let’s face it, anyone who plays pick-up ball and calls out, “Let’s go zone,” lacks a spine. Seriously. Man Up. Woman Up. Or Go Home.)


The players going in the forward direction have an advantage over those moving backward. Therefore one-on-one accountability is a must. If you’re a coach, check your ego and Player Up.


If you’re a parent, praise the coaches – even ones (like me) who lose playing man. Know that your kid is learning the full game of hoops along with great lessons about accountability on the court and in life.