Within our program progression at White Oak, Junior Varsity basketball was a training ground for players that should be prepared to play varsity basketball the next season or during the current season if necessary. Because we almost always practiced the JV with the varsity, it was also the duty of the junior varsity to be a training agent for the varsity. With this philosophy in mind, the following goals should have been obtained:
1) Continuation of perfecting our offensive and defensive philosophies.
2) Playing time is performance based with a player rotation of as many players as the coach considers to be capable of performing at the junior varsity level or as potentially being a varsity player upon consultation with the head coach. In the event of combining with the 9th grade team, the player rotation should be expanded to include at least the top 5 freshmen.
3) Prepare junior varsity players to be varsity players.
The Junior Varsity program presents many unique challenges that many players have never dealt with before. Amongst these challenges are playing with players outside of their class for the first time, practicing with the varsity, being the scout team for the varsity, and possibly dealing with a feeling of rejection for not being a varsity player. Also, the coach of the JV must deal with the possibility of players moving up and down from the varsity, hurt feelings of not being on the varsity, and the frustration of not being able to spend adequate time on your own schemes because of being the scout team for the varsity.
As far as teaching our system, I always believed the JV was the least demanding of all our sub-varsity coaching positions. The vast majority of our system had been installed by this point so the main job, scheme wise, of our JV coach was to make sure the JV knows most of our set plays in case a player is moved to the varsity. However, I believe the JV coach had the toughest job of our sub-varsity coaches as far as having limited control over workouts, consistency on your team because of players possibly being moved up or down, and mixing, at times, players from the 9th, 10th, and 11th grade classes. The best JV coaches in our system learned to be flexible and adaptable. If they didn’t, and speaking from experience, the JV job could be very frustrating.
For workout purposes, we most often paired a JV player with a varsity player for individual and group work. One of the main mistakes I believe some coaches make is allowing players to choose their own partners. I rarely ever did this for several reasons. First of all, I wanted players who would compete with each other paired up in order to maximize the number of quality repetitions we could get in practice. Secondly, if possible, I would pair them with players they did not know very well to force them to develop relationships with players outside their class. Thirdly, this allowed me to have players that were competing for a varsity spot to go head to head as often as possible.
Later in the season, pairing JV with varsity players also allowed us to control the amount of contact and the physical nature of practice. We wanted our practices to be as competitive as possible so I always picked the partners and most drills had consequences attached to winning/losing but I did not always want the varsity players banging bodies with each other all year. I will go over practice planning in a later entry.
Prior to district play, we did very little game preparation in practice for non-district opponents…we mainly worked on us. This meant during our fundamental, offensive and defensive group, and team portion of workouts, we mainly practiced against White Oak. On occasion, we would use the JV to be the scout team during the team portion of workout if our upcoming opponent utilized schemes that we did not see on a normal basis. It’s during the non-district portion of our schedule that the JV got to work on their schemes.
Once district play began, the first 30 minutes of workout on Monday and Thursday, the JV would work on their schemes against our 9th grade team while the varsity went over the scouting report for the next opponent. However, if the JV had to learn something for the scout team, it would also take place during this 30 minute time frame. Many times our opponents JV would do many of the same schemes as their varsity so the time also prepared our JV for what they would see on game night. The JV would still work on our schemes during our group periods but once we went to the team portion of workout, the JV was strictly the scout team for the varsity. Getting beat up by the varsity every Mon/Thurs could be frustrating as a JV player but it also taught them to compete at a higher level and made game day much easier once they were on the court against another JV.
Since the JV did so much scout team work for the varsity, it was crucial the varsity players respect the role the JV is playing and the value of that role. Most do because they have been asked to do it themselves, but at the end of the day, we all must realize we are on the same team. It was crucial that the JV coach and head coach keep a feel on the pulse of their teams so that animosity did not develop between the JV and varsity. We are after camaraderie not animosity.
Another important part of the JV was starting to identify the potential varsity players for the next season as well as the possible role the players should play. Once we began district play and we were not doing as much individual work during practice, we would encourage players to stay after practice to work on their individual skills. It was crucial during this time to get in some extra reps for JV players that would be counted on the next season. The head coach is responsible for giving the varsity the best chance to win but must also see the big picture. Part of this is was not waiting until players became varsity players to make them varsity players. The head coach has to always be thinking ahead.
When selecting the varsity, I usually tried to identify our top 8 players who would be in our normal rotation and 1 supporting role player to be the 9th man. Many years, this was a senior who had possibly been on the JV as a junior. I was very blessed to have many great role players during my tenure…kids that were willing to put the team before themselves. This can be a very difficult role to play and it was always important to let this player know they were valued by me and the other players.
If I didn’t have a senior to fill this role, then hopefully it was a junior and rarely a sophomore. I always hated playing sophomores in the 9th man role but, at times, it was unavoidable. My philosophy was to do what I considered best for the varsity first, then do what was best for the player. If I had a sophomore in the 9th player role, I would often switch them with another JV player during the second round of district so that the sophomore dropping down would get to play more. As we all know, some kids would rather sit on the bench for the varsity than play on the JV, but I did not subscribe to this theory and it always made me question the competitiveness of underclassmen that would rather sit than play.
Our JV always ran the same base offenses and defense as our varsity in order to allow for continuity within our program. Hopefully, if we lost a varsity player for whatever reason, we would be able to plug in a JV player who could give us solid minutes if needed. Over my tenure, I was very blessed to have JV coaches who understood their role and bought into our philosophy. As a JV coach for 2 years, I can remember how frustrating it could be at times, so I greatly appreciated the job my JV coaches did. They took a challenging role and executed it well.
In summary, at White Oak, the JV should have been as close to a carbon copy of the varsity as possible on game day. On practice days, the JV should be working with the vision of being a varsity player as well as playing the role of the scout team to the best of their ability.
I’ll never forget the words that came out of the mouth of one of our JV players following their last game of our 2012 season. As they broke the huddle after their last game, knowing they would now become the full time scout team during the playoffs, Cass Carr said, “Now let’s go help win a State Championship.” They understood their role and they did help win the State Championship.
Below I have listed the duties of our JV coach.
Next entry, I will conclude the series on our program progression by outlining the philosophy and expectations for our varsity team.
Thanks for reading and Coach With A Purpose!
JV Coaching Duties
- Be loyal to the head coach and the basketball program.
- Prepare players to perform on the varsity level if needed during the season.
- Be demanding of varsity players as well as JV players during workouts and games.
- Assist the head coach with workout preparation and game planning.
- Attend all varsity basketball functions that do not conflict with JV functions.
- Drive bus on trips.
- Prepare gym on home game dates.
- Notify staticians and managers of traveling times.
- Assist during varsity games.
- Run the drills and procedures required by the head coach.
- Help head coach with scouting.
- Assist with laundry and equipment duties.
- Help with summer basketball camp.
- Aid with varsity tournament and sub-varsity tournament.
- Fill out end-of-season report.
- Perform all other duties assigned by the head coach.
- Sell the basketball program.