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Spring and Summer 5 on 5 Guidelines

Open gyms and pickup games during times when you aren’t allowed to instruct are almost always more harmful than helpful to player development.

 

Developing your own guidelines, and making sure that your team leaders know and enforce them, will help decrease the development of bad habits among your players.  These are our ideas to get you started.

15 ways to make out of season 5 on 5 more meaningful

All of these ideas were “stolen” from various programs.  I hope you can use this as a place to start to build your own set of guidelines that fit what your program needs and how you play.

You might just like some of these well enough that you turn them into special rules or restrictions during next season’s practices!

🏀All defensive players must be across half-court when a basket is scored. If all five defenders did not make it across half-court, the points count and the offensive team gets the ball back. This rule drastically reduces standing and pouting after a turnover, missed shot, or not getting a foul call.

🏀All five offensive players must be in the front court when a point is scored for it to count. If all five don’t make it, take away the basket and the other team gets the ball.  What do you do if there is a quick steal or a long outlet pass? The remaining offensive players better sprint!!

🏀Defense calls all fouls. No questioning or debating the call. Players should limit calling fouls, to develop the ability to play or score through contact.

🏀First team to 21 wins.  Play by 2’s and 3’s.  That is close to an 8-minute quarter for high school.  If one team jumps out to an immediate lead, there is still time for a comeback.

🏀All 10 players are required to call out the score on every possession—not just after baskets.

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🏀The player who scores the 21st point must immediately step to the free throw line and make a free throw to “validate” the win. If they make the free throw, game over.  If they miss, the game-winning basket is erased and play resumes.  Possession goes to the other team and the score is the same as it was prior to the basket.  This is to simulate shooting pressure free throws.

🏀Play only man to man defense. I think this is a good rule even if you are a zone team.  It forces your offense to go against man-to-man defense.

🏀The player guarding the ball must pressure the dribbler.  Players will improve more (both the dribbler’s skills and the defender) when there is defensive pressure.  If they do get beat off the bounce, that is better for player development than no ball pressure.  You can back them off during the season to help contain the basketball.

🏀 Challenge every shot with the mirror hand. (Challenge a right-handed shooter with the left hand and a left-handed shooter with the right hand.)  Players need to be taught how to hold each other accountable in a positive way.  It helps the defense play harder and it forces the offense to be ready to shoot and get the shot of at game pace.

🏀No switching off ball screens.

🏀Block out on every shot.  This is another time when players need to encourage accountability.

🏀No full court pressing. (Players are not in game shape and the game can quickly deteriorate).  You might even consider playing only half court at times.  That also allows you to have 2 ends going if you have a big turnout of players.  This also helps if you want to use rules 1 and 2 above requiring all players to be across the timeline when a basket is scored.

🏀Veterans help teach younger players how you play and the principles of your offensive and defensive system.

🏀Play hard!! (Define what playing hard is in your program)  Here are some ideas for what playing hard looks like: Intensity Looks Like…

🏀Encouraging teammates through talking and positive, constructive correction between players is the EXPECTATION.

Make rest and recovery a significant part of the spring and summer


Even as intense as Pat Summitt was, she had periods when she would bar players from being in the gym.  Those periods didn’t last long, but she felt the players needed time to rest mentally and physically and enjoy just being kids.

“Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back… play for her.” Mia Hamm’s quote applies to basketball as well as soccer.

You don’t want your players to lose their love for the game. enjoyment and improvement.  Each player will have different needs when it comes to resting and re-charging.  It is important that we respect that line for each
player.

Develop YOUR vision and YOUR guidelines

 

What does a worthwhile out of season 5 on 5 look like.  If you are supervising the gym (without being able to instruct), what do you want to see?

  • Energy and enthusiasm?
  • Players working to expand their game?
  • Players having fun playing basketball?
  • Do you want to hear shoes squeaking?
  • Players talking?
  • Players encouraging each other and holding each other accountable for your program standards
  • Other ideas that you have?
  • All of the above?

Who will be your leaders to make sure that the play is meaningful?

The leaders in open gym don’t have to be your captains or 
your seniors.  Some of those players may

be involved in spring sports or other activities.  And, since these are optional, you may not have everyone there every time.

You just need someone to take charge and be the voice of the coaching staff.  That might be a guy or girl who isn’t one of your best players, but who is thinking about a coaching career.  Or, someone that the other players respect because they are such a good teammate.

One way of getting “buy-in” is to show your guidelines list to the players and ask them which ones they think will make a difference.  We all naturally support what we help to create.

Your returning players should understand that every day they either get better or they get worse.  No one stays the same from day to day.  Every time they play, they develop habits.  Some of those habits are good and some are bad—depending on how your opens gyms go.

We all know that there will come a time when winter will ask (and hold your players accountable for), “What did you do in the spring and summer?”  Take some time today to put your plan together to be ready with your answer.

This article is a collection of thoughts gathered over 40 years of being involved in coaching basketball.

Several of these came from Bob Starkey, a long time Division 1 men’s and women’s assistant coach at several schools and Alan Stein, former basketball strength and conditioning coach.

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