In this article, I will continue my discussion of an earlier posting about running a high school’s Summer Youth Basketball Camp. This post will focus on the daily organization of the camp. If you missed Part 1, go to https://coachbattenberg.wordpress.com/ and find it using the “BLOG” button in the upper right.
I never liked all-day camps. I know they are popular with the dedicated basketball player who is mature enough, interested enough, and loves 10 hours of training a day. But most “youth” aren’t in that category. I found that 2 and a half hours was the perfect length for my camps. This gave us about two hours of training and at least a half an hour for games at the end. That seemed to be plenty for most everyone, and besides, if they really wanted more, they could stay after and work on their own
Our camps always started with me addressing the whole group each day. Even when we had two facilities and 60+ kids, we met in the main gym to start and end each session. The players would line up by grade level and we would see if everyone was there on time. There was no penalty for being late, other than you were given a round of applause when you did show up. Since the facility was open a half hour before camp started each day, everyone was encouraged to come early and work on shooting before we officially started. Very few came late because of this opportunity.
Each day I would have a question or topic of quick discussion for the campers. Then I would lead them in warmups and stretching before they headed off to stations for fundamental skill training. The rest of the staff did the Station Training while I walked around watching the groups and sometimes helping a coach or player with instruction. I made myself available so coaches could ask me questions, but also so I could make sure things were running smoothly. When we used two facilities, I was pretty busy going back and forth between the two.
Stations consisted of three rotations usually, to do three different skills for offense. This was followed by a water break, then a group meeting again where I discussed defense. Next, it was off to stations again for 3 rotations of defensive work. Each station was a quick introduction to a fundamental or skill, then work on the skill for a total of about 7-8 minutes at each station. All of the offensive and defensive station work was accomplished in 50 minutes or less.
After Stations, we would go into full court work with passing, rebound-outlets, filling lanes, and various other fast break drills. Since my program featured a Running Game, we indoctrinated the players into that style by teaching them to run lanes, pass ahead to the open man, and attack the basket. The concept of Early Offense was also introduced as we incorporated our Reverse Play into the end of any delayed fast break. From there, the offensive philosophy was: “Take good shots, don’t force.”
We did very little half court offensive work in 5 on 5 situations. Most of the half court work was broken down into 1 on 1, 2 on 2, 3 on 3, or 4 on 4. The 5 on 5 was almost always in a full court situation where we taught the importance of offensive and defensive transition. (Push the Break or Stop the Break)
The next camp transition after another water break was for shooting instruction. I talked about it, demonstrated, then the players went to stations to work on form shooting, free throw shooting, and eventually outside shots. The goal was to teach proper shooting fundamentals and check points, while encouraging players to spend plenty of time on their own to perfect their shots.
The last half hour was devoted to games. The coaches made balanced teams and then coached while refereeing their own teams’ games. The lessons and skills taught were reinforced in the playing of the games, but always with encouragement and never criticism. Playing the game of basketball is what kids like to do best, so we tried to make it as much fun as possible, while still helping them improve as players.
Camp always ended with the group coming back together and me addressing them one more time before they left. I wanted them to go home knowing they had worked hard, learned many new things, and become better than they were the day before.
Some coaches have told me in the past that Fridays are a slow day and attendance is poor. Many have said they cut out Fridays for this reason. I never wanted to do that because I thought Friday was The BIG DAY. We talked about it all week and tried to make it indeed, a Big Day. Camp T-shirts were given out Friday at the beginning of the session. We did many “fun” drills and contests on Friday. And we made a big deal of the Tournament played during the last 45 minutes. At the end of the Friday session, we gave out awards to Best Hustler and Best Free Throw Shooter. The coaches picked the hustle award while the best free throw shooter was determined in the Friday contest. So, you can see that Friday was a day that most kids didn’t want to miss. Parents sometimes didn’t take off for vacation until camp ended Friday because their child didn’t want to miss out. But if they did leave, well, that was their choice and the rest of us still had a good time at camp.
Money earned from Camp Fees was used to pay the staff in various ways. Regular coaches always got some money for their time invested. Players from the program who helped out were sometimes paid too, but often their pay was a credit towards summer league and summer tournament fees that were required for participation.
After the final day, I usually held a Staff Party for all the coaches and players who worked the camp. Sometimes it was pizza and soda at the gym, or maybe at a restaurant. There were some years I hosted a party at my house. I always felt everyone deserved to celebrate the hard work they put in during the week, so we had some kind of a party each year.
Some of the biggest and best camps were the ones that built up over time when I stayed at a particular school for several years. When we had 50 or more in a session, we sometimes had to use an outdoor court or two just to accommodate the numbers. Everyone had to take a turn in the SkyDome, as we called the outdoor courts. It was tough, but we made it a “pride thing” to be able to play in the sun and other elements. We even gave a special “SkyDome Player of the Week” award to a player too.
I always liked running camps and doing the ones for my schools and communities were always my favorites. It was fun to see young campers grow up and become star high school players one day. And even some of those who didn’t play high school ball would later come to games and be excited supporters of our teams. Summer Basketball Camp can be rewarding in so many ways. Every high school coach should consider doing one.
I invite you to leave comments or questions below.
For more information on Coach Battenberg and his camps and training materials, check out his website: http://www.coachbattenberg.net
And check out past and future articles on his blog at: https://coachbattenberg.wordpress.com/