Program Progression – Part 3 – Summer Basketball Camp

I always viewed the annual Roughneck Basketball Camp as an extension of our basketball program and a crucial step for our players as well as coaches.  So, let me begin with a few components that I felt were crucial for our summer camp.

First of all, I never wanted a kid to not be able to attend because of the cost so we always tried to offer our camp at a price that was affordable to the families in our community.

Secondly, I restricted the eligibility to attend our camps to kids in White Oak ISD for two reasons.  First, as an extension of our basketball program, I was only interested in training our kids…our camps were never just money makers.  Secondly, I wanted to keep the coach/player ratio to around 6 to 1 in order to allow us to accomplish our goals.

Thirdly, I wanted our camp to be a great experience for our kids and something they would look forward to attending each year.  In order to do this, I felt it was necessary to do things that would set our camp apart. For example, we always had multi-colored camp shirts that would sell our program including slogans, “Area Champions”, etc.  Many years we would also include a camp basketball and certificates of completion along with end of camp awards. We would present these items on the last day of camp at Parents Day. Finally, we would always have medals for our contest winners at the end of each day of camp and presented them in a similar fashion to the draping of the medals at the State Tournament.  I can still see the look in the eyes of young boys dreaming they might someday actually have that opportunity…you gotta sell the dream!

Fourthly, our camps always gave our coaches a preview of the team they would have the next year so it was crucial that, if all possible, they be available to work our camp.  I was very blessed to have coaches that were loyal and willing to help out. For example, our 7th grade coach, Chris Walker, has probably worked all but 2 or so of our camps during the 25 years that I was the head coach.  Without a doubt, one of the greatest advantages during my tenure was continuity within our junior high coaching staff.

So, the items I have mentioned were the cornerstones to our camp.  As far as the organization and the specific goals, they are as follows.

Our morning session was for incoming 5th & 6th graders.  I know many allow much younger kids to attend their camps but we had specific goals to accomplish that tied in to the progression related to our youth program and I also wasn’t interested in glorified baby sitting.  Our morning session ran from 8:00-11:00. The format was set up to work on fundamentals in 20 minute segments followed by 10 minutes of competition such as hot shot, knock out, dribble tag, etc. We would follow this format until about the last 30 minutes in which we would do 4 on 4 games followed by awards.  We would score our contests and have individual and team champions at the end of the week. Our goals for the morning session were to have fun through the game of basketball, work on offensive and defensive fundamentals of the game, and introduce our campers to our program philosophy.

Our afternoon session was for 7th & 8th graders from 1:00-4:00.  One of our goals for this camp was to introduce the concept of becoming a 4 dimensional offensive player along with introducing our junior high base man offense and transition offense.  For us, a 4 dimensional offensive player is one who can attack the basket, have a mid range game, play with his back to the basket, and shoot the 3 pt shot. Because of our normal overall lack of size at the varsity level, it is our goal to have as many 4D players as possible on the court.  The first 2 hours of each session would be teaching and drilling the skills necessary to develop a 4D player. In the last hour of camp, we would have a 1 on 1, 2 on 2, or 3 on 3 tournament. Our goals for our afternoon session were to have fun through the game of basketball, introduce the concept of being a 4 dimensional scorer, and introduce our transition offense and base man offense.

At the conclusion of camp, I would always send a camp picture to our local newspaper along with a list of participants, award winners, and contest winners.  Kids always love seeing their name and picture in the paper and it’s a good way to sell the program.

Most years, I would bring our 9th graders up for a week of camp on their own.  On years that we did not have enough to do this, we would combine them with our 7th and 8th grade session.  The purpose for having a separate 9th grade camp was to expedite the transition process from junior high to high school basketball.  For our program, the 9th grade year was crucial for a couple of reasons.

Fundamentally, we start expecting players to shoot a jump shot as a freshman.  Up until this point, we have worked extensively on technique so most should have solid shooting form if they have been through each step of our progression to this point.  Learning to shoot a jump shot is the next step.

Secondly, we don’t teach our defensive system until the 9th grade so camp always allowed me to introduce this system to them.  In my mind, pressure defense was the trademark of White Oak basketball so I wanted to be the one to introduce it.

Thirdly, we could also review our base offenses along with introducing additional offensive concepts to be used in the high school. We would conduct this camp the first week of summer so that our 9th graders who were participating in our summer league program would be better prepared.  Also, since many of our 9th graders also played football, this camp allowed us to have a head start on basketball once football season was complete. Obviously, they are not going to retain everything but it goes a long way in speeding up the process. Basically, for our freshman, this week was a 3 hour workout each day…thus the transition to high school basketball.  

That’s the Roughneck Basketball Camp in a nutshell.  With this entry of Coach With A Purpose, I’ve attempted to give an overall philosophy for our summer camp, how it fits into the overall progression of our program, the goals of each session, and the rationale behind why it was done this way.  For anyone interested in a more detailed description of our camp sessions, feel free to email me at [email protected] and I will send you an example of our camp schedule for the week.

In the next entry of Coach With A Purpose, I will detail the role of our 9th grade in our overall program.  

Thanks for reading and Coach With A Purpose!

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