Thursday, December 4, 2008

Middle School Madness

The Middle School Madness is driving me crazy! With the season just starting, I am perplexed as to why their is no accountability in regards to middle school coaches. I am not attempting to bash coaches but shed light on the disservice that SOME of them are doing to the girls who love and are dedicated to the game. Here are a few Middle School teachings from local coaches.

- One coach refuses to let a very promising post player use the Up and Under or the Step Through, and is adamant that it is a traveling violation. This coach also discourages the use of the Jump Hook as"it is not a good shot". This coach has been sent videos of pro players using the same move with the same footwork at the highest level of basketball. This coach refuses to condone the advanced moves because he/she can not coach/teach it. If an English teacher can not understand nor teach Quantum Physics, he/she should not dismiss the discipline as false or faulty.

- One coach is fortunate enough to have a very skilled player that is one of the only MS players in the city that shoots with the proper L-Form. Not only does she shoot with the L, she is consistently a good shooter. Her coach told her that " Girls shoot from their chest", and she needed to learn to do so. This player has had to stay after practice to "learn to shoot the right way". This coach is attempting to undue years of hard work and progress to return this player back into the dark ages. Quality coaches beg for girls who can shoot the ball accurately and with proper form.

- Another coach teaches her/his uncoordinated basketball novices to chase down defenders on break away layups and attempt to block shots. Any knowledgeable MS coach/trainer will tell you that it is very rare that middle school girls can chase break away lay ups from behind and block them at the height of the jump. More often than not, these players end up committing fouls and injuring the shooter. Instead of teaching the effective run by or beating the shooter to the spot, this coach thinks that 7th/8th grade girls are graceful and athletic enough to block shots off of the backboard without fouling and falling. I have yet to see many Tayshaun Princesses.

- Another coach instructs his/her players to shoot 15 foot, left-hand jump shots on the left side of the basket! I am all for developing your off-hand but the last person I saw shoot jump shots with both hands, is from French Lick, Indiana and is in the Hall of Fame.

-Speaking of the left hand, another coach advises his/her star player to shoot exclusively with the left hand during blow out victories. Again, I am all for developing your weak hand but what kind of message does that send to her players and competition. This coach has obviously never played the game at a competitive level. Would you tell a middle school baseball pitcher to throw the ball with his off hand because the game was out of reach. Even though this Middle School player is by far one of the better players in the city for her age group, she still needs development. How about having her work on specific skills like low post moves, passing, and moving without the ball? This coach does not realize how demeaning this is to the competition and how she is setting her player up for ridicule and potentially physical and verbal backlash. The appearance of a player "thinking" they are so good that they can beat opponents with one weak hand will cause the opposing parents and kids to categorize her as arrogant.

- One coach has a great ball handler and seasoned club guard and insists that she is a post player because she is taller than most of her teammates. I can understand if this so-called post player would benefit the team with her overwhelming height but the player in question is a 5'5 seventh grader. Never mind that she has won the best dribbler and shooter competitions in team practices and is the best passer on the team. Her "size" automatically makes her a post player?This type of philosophy handicaps players in their future development. A 5'9 Middle school post player is a 5"10 high school wing and guard in college.

With these few scenarios of madness, I often wonder if these coaches would be allowed to coach this way if they were coaching boys football? Would the local High School football coach let his neighboring middle school coach discourage a very skilled quarterback from completing a 5 step drop because they could not teach it? Would the local High School baseball coach allow his Middle School coach to stop a very promising kid from pitching because pitchers are "supposed" to be taller than him?

I would like to see more Tina Comachos. The very successful Wagner coach takes an active interest in her middle school programs that feed into her high school program. Her promising and dedicated middle school players know that she already knows of them! Her aspiring T-Birds are happy to improve with the dream of wearing Wagner Red because Camacho gets it. She understands that young players are like young trees. If they are groomed to grow upward, they will do so. The problem is that too many of these middle school basketball coaches did not grow up in basketball themselves, so they lack strong roots and their teachings are wild.