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The Complete Guide to COACHING GIRLS' BASKETBALL
Building a Great Team the Carolina Way
By SYLVIA HATCHELL, JEFF THOMAS
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Sylvia Hatchell
All rights reserved.
PREPARING FOR THE SEASON
Before you can coach basketball, you need to have a basic knowledge of the rules of the game, starting with where it's played.
About the Game
Basketball is played on a playing surface called the court. Courts can be indoors or outdoors. The surface can be made of wood, concrete, or asphalt. Some courts are carpeted, and some have hard rubber surfaces. The best (and most expensive) courts are made of maple wood.
College courts are 94 feet long and 50 feet wide, but the dimensions of middle school and high school courts vary.
Basketball is a complicated game with many rules. If you're a rookie coach, it will take some game experience before you learn everything you need to know. Here are the basics:
Object of the game. As with most other team sports, the team with the most points at the end of the game wins.
The ball. There are several sizes of basketballs, but for girls' basketball, you'll use the standard women's ball, which is 28.5 inches in circumference. All the major manufacturers, such as Wilson and Spalding, manufacture this size ball in both indoor and outdoor versions. You can buy women's balls at any good sporting goods outlet.
Number of players and substitutions. There are five players on the court for each team. The coach can substitute fresh players at any time, from one player up to five at a time. There are no limitations on how many times in the game substitutions can be made and how many times a player can come in and out of the game. Substitutions can be made only on a dead ball, when the referee blows the whistle and play stops. You can substitute after the first of two free throws and after the last free throw, but you can't substitute before the first free throw. The only player for whom you can't substitute is the player shooting at the free throw line.
Time. The length of the game varies, depending on the level and age. College games last 40 minutes, divided into two 20-minute halves. High school games last 32 minutes, divided into 8-minute quarters, but some high schools use 16-minute halves. The time between quarters is brief—1 minute is the norm—and the time between halves is no more than 10 minutes. Some high school leagues use a 30-second shot clock, meaning that the team with the ball must shoot within 30 seconds of the moment they gain possession, or the ball is given to the other team. Middle school leagues don't have a shot clock, though some use a running clock, meaning that the clock doesn't stop every time the referee blows the whistle. This is done to ensure that the game ends on time and the next game can begin when scheduled.
The baskets. Each basket consists of a rim with a net attached to a backboard, which is attached to a structural support, like a pole. Some baskets are fixed in place, and some can be raised to the ceiling to get them out of the way. Each team has its own basket at one end of the court. Both teams sit alongside one length of the court, each on one side of the scorers' table. At the start of the game, your team's basket is the near basket. For the first half, your players will defend this basket and will try to score at the other team's basket (at the far end). At halftime, the teams will switch baskets—your team will now defend the far basket and will try to score at the near basket. Prior to the start of the first half, teams warm up at the other team's basket.
Scoring. When a player shoots and scores from anywhere inside the 3-point arc, it counts as 2 points. Any shot made from outside the 3-point arc counts as 3 points. (In high school, the arc is 19 feet from the basket.) For the shot to count as 3 points, the shooter's feet must not touch the arc. If even her toe is on the line, it's considered a 2-point basket, not a 3-point basket. Two-point shots and 3-point shots are field goals. Free throws are awarded to a player who has been fouled. Free throws, shot from the free throw line, or foul line, are worth 1 point. The foul line is 15 feet from the basket. If a team mistakenly scores at the wrong basket (this sometimes happens with younger players!), the basket counts for the other team.
Moving the ball. When a team has possession of the ball, it tries to move the ball close to the other team's basket for a good scoring opportunity. Players can advance the ball by dribbling (bouncing the ball on the floor with one hand) and passing (throwing) it to a teammate, subject to certain rules. When they throw the ball at the basket to try to score, they are shooting the ball. As noted above, different kinds of successful shots (made shots), result in scoring from 1 to 3 points.
Defending the basket. When a team doesn't have possession of the ball, it defends its basket. Players are allowed to gain possession of the ball from the other team at any time through stealing passes, stealing dribbles, and getting defensive rebounds, subject to the limitations regarding fouls. A good defensive team makes it hard for the offensive team to do what it wants to do. A good defender makes it hard for her player to catch, dribble, pass, and shoot.
Rules about Fouls
The rules about fouls are designed to keep the game from getting too rough and to penalize players who violate the rules. One of the referee's main duties is to enforce the rules about fouling. Each time a foul is committed, the referee blows the whistle and play stops. The referee uses a hand signal to indicate what the foul was and calls out the number of the player who committed the foul ("Number 32 ... blocking"). (See the referee hand signals in the Appendix.)
Personal fouls happen when a player makes physical contact with an opponent in a manner not allowed by the rules. Contact is the key component. If there's no contact, if the player didn't touch the other player, there's no foul.
A defender can foul a player with the ball or without the ball. When she fouls a player who is shooting, such as by hitting her arm or hand, it's a shooting foul. If the shot scores, the referee signals and one, which means the shooter gets to shoot a free throw as well. If the shot misses, the shooter is awarded two free throws in the case of a 2-point shot and three free throws in the case of a 3-point shot.
When a defender fouls a player without the ball, it's a nonshooting foul. A player (the inbounder) from the team that was fouled passes (inbounds) the ball to a teammate from a spot outside of the court boundaries. The spot is along the nearest line (baseline or sideline) to where the foul occurred.
Some of the most common nonshooting fouls are the following (most are self- explanatory):
Reaching across a player's body with your arm
Holding a player (any part of her, including her jersey)
Pushing a player (with any part of the body)
Tripping a player
Blocking a player who is driving to the basket by getting in her way and knocking her off her path
A player can also commit a personal foul if her team has the ball. She can commit a moving pick by moving too soon after she sets a screen. She can push a defender with her hands as she tries to get open. She can commit a charging foul when she dribbles into a defender who has established position and is no longer moving. When an offensive player drives (dribbles hard to the basket) and collides with a defender, this is one of the more difficult calls a referee has to make. Was it a charge by the dribbler or a block by the defender? The collision happens in an instant, and it's hard to know if the defender established good position prior to the contact. Whichever way the referee calls it, you can be sure half the fans in the stands and one of the coaches will disagree.
There are three other kinds of personal fouls:
An intentional foul happens when a player makes illegal contact with an opponent and is obviously trying to incur a foul (probably to stop the clock)—she isn't trying to steal the ball. Intentional fouls result in two free throws awarded to the player who was fouled.
A flagrant foul is called for excessive roughness, such as when a player punches, kicks, or fights with another player. It seldom happens, but when it does, the referee has the right to eject the offending player from the game.
A technical foul can be assessed to a player or a coach (this means you and your assistants!) at the referee's discretion for various unsportsmanlike actions, including using profanity, insulting the referee, and throwing the ball at a player. A technical foul is also assessed when the defender reaches across the imaginary plane of the baseline while guarding an inbounder or when a team's scorekeeper doesn't list the right player numbers in the scorebook. The penalty for a technical foul is that a player from the other team (any player the coach chooses) shoots three free throws without anyone standing along the sides of the lane. Regardless of how many shots she makes or misses, that player's team then inbounds the ball from their end of the court. Obviously, technical fouls can be costly to your team.
Each player is allowed a maximum of five personal fouls per game. When a player commits her fifth foul, she fouls out and, regardless of how much time is left in the game, must leave the game immediately. The coach must replace her with a substitute. A player who fouls out can't come back into the game.
Since you don't want to lose an important player before the game ends, know at all times how many fouls each of your players has. If a player accumulates fouls quickly or is in danger of fouling out, take her out for a while so she'll be able to play later in the game. A player with four fouls is a liability on defense, because she can't play aggressively for fear of fouling out. Good coaches will gear their team's offense to attack a defender in foul trouble. Throughout the game, keep track of the individual and team fouls for the other team. Depending on how the referees are calling the game, you might want one of your players to drive at a defender who is in foul trouble.
Team fouls are the totals of the personal fouls each team accumulates during a half. There's no limit to the number of team fouls a team can accumulate. At the end of the first half, the team foul total for each team resets to zero. Each team's scorekeeper keeps team foul totals. In addition to the points scored and the time left, some scoreboards also show the number of team fouls for each team.
Once a team commits its seventh team foul in a half, the other team is in the bonus. They are awarded a one-and-one free throw for the next three nonshooting fouls that occur during the rest of the half. The player who is fouled shoots one free throw. If she misses, the teams fight for the ball. If she makes it, she shoots a second free throw (the one-and-one term means that if she makes one shot, she gets another one). Once a team commits its tenth team foul, it's penalized further. The other team is now awarded a two-shot free throw for every nonshooting foul. Every player fouled from now on gets to shoot a second free throw, even if she misses the first one.
Fouls are a huge factor in games. A team that fouls a lot puts itself at a disadvantage to the other team. It risks losing players and giving the other team extra points. Conversely, a team that knows how to play tough defense without fouling is tough to score points against. A team with good free throw shooters has an advantage over a team that shoots poorly from the line. Often, close games are decided by who wins the "Battle of the Free Throw Line." Your team should practice free throws every practice.
Here are the other basic rules of the game. If a player on your team violates any of these rules, your team immediately gives up possession of the ball to the other team.
10-second backcourt call. Once a player inbounds the ball in the backcourt, her team has 10 seconds to advance the ball past the midcourt line. Some middle school leagues waive this rule.
5-second closely guarded call. A player with the ball who is guarded by a defender standing within 6 feet of her must advance the ball within 5 seconds. This prevents a player from dribbling in one spot as a stalling tactic.
5-second call on the dribbler. A player who picks up her dribble (stops dribbling) must pass or shoot within 5 seconds.
5-second call on the inbounder. An inbounder must pass the ball within 5 seconds.
3-second lane violation. An offensive player can't camp out (stay) in the lane for more than 3 seconds. She must keep moving in and out to avoid this call. However, once the ball has been shot and hits the rim, the 3-second count starts over.
Moving pick. A screener can't move any part of her body after setting a screen.
Backcourt violation. After bringing the ball over the midcourt line, a team can't allow the ball to go back over the line into the other half of the court.
Traveling. A dribbler can't take more than one step without dribbling.
Double dribble. A player can't dribble with both hands more than once.
Palming. When dribbling, a player can't carry the ball; her palm must make contact with the top half of the ball. Referees call carrying less than they used to, so more dribblers take advantage of this.
A held ball occurs when a defender grabs the ball while it's in the hands of an offensive player, and both players hold the ball at the same time. This often happens when two players dive to the floor after a loose ball. The held ball is a unique rule violation in the way it's handled. While other violations result in an automatic change of possession, the held ball uses an alternating arrow or alternating possession system. Regardless of which team is on offense or which team is on defense, the ball is awarded to the team that is attacking in the direction of the pointed arrow. Most coaches dislike the alternate possession system because it doesn't always reward the defender for a good play.
Most scorers' tables have a box that displays a red LED arrow or a mechanical pointer used as an arrow. The arrow points to one basket or the other. The clock keeper is in charge of the arrow. At the beginning of the game, the arrow is neutral. If team A gets possession of the ball off the center jump, the rules consider that team A has used its possession, so the clock keeper points the arrow in the direction of team A's basket. That means that on the next held ball, team B gets the ball. Team B inbounds the ball along the nearest point on the sideline or baseline where the held ball occurred. As soon as team B inbounds, the clock keeper switches the arrow so that team A will get the next held ball.
Basketball players fall into one of two general categories: guards (or perimeter players), who play away from the basket along the 3-point arc area, and forwards (or posts), who play near the basket and around the free throw line.
Each player is assigned a position to play. The way basketball coaches label the positions has changed over the past ten to fifteen years. The old terminology has evolved into numbers. For example, instead of talking about the shooting guard, many coaches now talk about the two guard or the 2. This has come about because the distinctions between the traditional positions have blurred over the years. Today's players are more versatile and can play more than one position. Players like Magic Johnson (who played for the Los Angeles Lakers) showed that height no longer dictates where a player plays on the floor. He was 6 feet 9 inches and played point guard.
Whether you prefer the old designations or the numerical approach, here are the general characteristics of the positions you need to fill on your team.
Point Guard or 1. This is the most important position on the team. If you have a good point guard, your team will have a good chance of succeeding. If you don't, your team will struggle offensively. Your point guard is your team leader on the floor. She directs the offense and knows where everyone is supposed to be. Put your best ball handler at the point. Ideally, she can dribble with both hands with her head up and is a good passer. She should have good court savvy—she should know when to pass, when to drive, when to shoot, when to slow things down, and when to speed things up.
The point guard is more important to a basketball team than a quarterback is to a football team. While the quarterback rests when his team is on defense, the point guard often has to guard the other team's best player. I'll say it again—the point is the most important position on the team. Most teams have plenty of wing players (players who play on the perimeter in the free throw line extended area), but many have no true point guard. The coach is stuck with trying to make a point guard out of a player not well suited to the position. If you have a true-blue point guard on your team, consider yourself lucky. If you don't, make it a priority to develop your best perimeter player into one and expect a lot of full-court presses.
Shooting Guard or 2. Put your best outside shooter in this position. She should be a good ball handler. This player should have the best shooting range of your players, ideally beyond the 3-point line, and should have confidence in her shot (balanced with good judgment on when to shoot and when not to shoot). She should be able to shoot not just when catching the ball but also when facing a defender and dribbling. If she can also fake the shot and drive, so much the better. As part of your offense, design ways to get your best shooter the ball in the spots on the court where she likes to shoot.
Excerpted from The Complete Guide to COACHING GIRLS' BASKETBALL by SYLVIA HATCHELL. Copyright © 2006 by Sylvia Hatchell. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
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