Made Their Layups

“That was the best team we saw all year,” the officials stated to my Athletic Director after our last game of a season.  Can’t be true, we were 14-5.  The refs continued: “They made their layups.”

That JV squad earned the compliment.  In practice the girls hoofed it up and down the court making layups.  Pass, catch and finish.  Make 30 in two minutes, and immediately perform same drill going the other direction for 30 more.  “Coach,” they said with a smile, “You tricked us.  You tricked us into doing tons of conditioning!”  We run, we run using the ball.

When girls enter high school and begin playing basketball, they are raw.  Basketball is a late development sport, especially for girls.  As freshmen at the first day of practice, they can not dribble the length of the court at speed and make a layup.  The ball hits the backboard and caroms back to the free throw line.  But they improve so fast.  Soon enough they can sprint the floor, pass, catch and finish.  By mid-season even the coach is surprised…

This summer at an open gym practice, the freshmen were beside themselves:  The sophomores kept making long passes for layups.  The next day in a small sided game two freshmen connected on a catch and finish.  “We did it!  Just like the JV!”

The next week some freshmen struggled with ‘bunching’.  Bunching, like my six year old daughters soccer team.  So we added my favorite practice constraint: No dribbling.  They looked at me funny.  But it worked.  Spacing became good and they began to make baskets.  The girls were pleased.

High school girls basketball is a game of layups:  Stop the ball, create and make your layups.  Catch and finish.  ‘Pace and space’ is enjoyable to play, coach and watch.  I’m all in on culture and decision making.

This past season was my final as a JV coach.  Our varsity won a Regional championship, just the fourth in school history.  During our quarterfinal loss, my assistant whispered to me on the bench:”Why don’t we run ‘double?'”  That’s when I knew we were ready to move up.

After eight seasons as a JV girls basketball coach, I am well pleased to be coaching Varsity High School Girls Basketball.

Welcome to Catch and Finish.

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