Jeff Farris
Just like kids need to improve physical skills, they also need a better understanding of how a team works together. In their initial efforts, kids often attempt to imitate what they see in a professional game, such as a dodging move to the basket, a breakaway or an open field run. What kids often fail to understand is how the pros work together as a team to create those memorable moments.

When kids imitate the pros, their play often looks like "hot-dogging" or selfish play to coaches and moments of brilliance to parents. Coaches have to help young kids (and parents) see the bigger picture of how teams work together to score or defend and this comes from helping them understand positioning.

Each position has different requirements and just as it is okay to use practice time for drills, it is also okay to use practice time to explain. For younger kids, these explanation sessions are best kept short and intermixed with physical activity. But as kids get older and can sit still longer, a practice conducted in front of a white board can also make sense.

With a little pre-game planning, coaches should look at assigning positions in advance of a game and give the players a chance to anticipate the responsibilities. Advance assignment also gives the players time to talk these responsibilities over with their parents for a better understanding. If some parents don"t have a good understanding of the sport, coaches can recommend books and websites to help them better help their child.

A team that is positionally solid is hard to beat and coaches should not worry about wasting field, court or ice time with conversations.
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