Monday, July 6, 2020
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“Get the ball to Jacob”!
“Ok, next time down the floor, make sure you clear the floor for Jacob and let him take his man one on one”!
“Time for a substitution, we’ll put four new ones in the game, but we’ll leave Jacob in.”
“Let’s run play #5, remember which one that is, it’s the one where we set a screen for Jacob and pass him the ball so that he can shoot”.
“Ok, way to run play #5, nice job. Now let’s run play #8. Actually it doesn’t matter, all the plays go to Jacob, so you have the green light to call any play you want”.
“Here is my pre-game pep talk: the only way we can win this game is to let Jacob do all the ball handling and shooting. Does everyone understand the game plan”?
“Hey Johnny, why did you shoot the ball? Did you forget the game plan? Let’s stick to it”!
I think we have all seen this kind of team, regardless of the sport. One kid carries the team. One kid does everything. One kid never comes out of the game.
I have a hard time thinking that when this team wins, that it’s really the “team” that has won. The question here is not which team is better, but which team has the most dominating player. Maybe it would be just as easy to determine the winning team to just let the best player from each team play a game of one on one to determine which team wins.
I have watched games where the league mandates that each team has 15 players and the first string from each team plays the first quarter, the 2nd string plays the 2nd quarter, the 3rd string plays the 3rd quarter, and then anyone, with free substitution can play the 4th and final quarter.
This really does give you a truer definition of which “team” won.
This may be a little over the top but really has a valuable lesson for the word “team”. It is true in this scenario that every person on the team is just as valuable as everyone else.
With my club teams, everyone gets substituted in and out of the game. Perfect “equal” playing time is difficult to administer, but I think you can get close enough so that everyone feels affirmed as a valuable component on the team.
I don’t think that it is a good learning lesson when one kid never comes out of the game. It just doesn’t teach him the character trait of humility.
This is when the coach can really apply strategic substitution patterns. I do think that a coach you can use strategic substituting to accommodate the strengths of each player.
No kid wants to feel like they are a worthless part of the team and not needed. Everyone has value, and a good coach can find the strengths and capitalize on them, or see potential and work at developing and improving on that potential.
So, do you have a better team, or just the best player?
“Ok, let’s pass the ball around and everyone keep moving. Whoever gets a good look at the basket and is wide open, I want you to shoot the ball!”
“Everyone put your hands in the middle, TEAM on three!”
If you have any questions or comments, email Tom Kuyper at:

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