Players aged 15-18 years old

At this age group, the results of the competition are important without losing sight of the educational perspective that should still be present. Therefore, there are two types of games:

  • games in which the main objective is to win. This should generally not be more than 25% for 15/16-year-olds nor more than 40% for 17/18- year-olds;
  • games in which the main objective is to consolidate the formative work carried out during training.

Games in which the main objective is to win, if used well, are also part of the formative work of young players, because they must learn to face the stress of such games. And they also need to learn to deal with adversity of losing and the importance of sportsmanship when winning.

However, the existence of these games does not mean that the main priority of the training plan should be to prepare the team to win them (contrary to what happens with professional teams).

When preparing for practice it is important that the coach take into consideration the opposing team and:

  • If these are games in which the main objective is winning, the coach must prepare the players so that they have a better chance of achieving that goal and so that they can get used to such a situation.
  • And for all other games, the coach must prepare the players so that they learn from them.

For example: if the coach knows that an upcoming opponent uses full-court man-to-man defense, even if their main objective is not to win this game, it provides an excellent opportunity to work on contents related with offense against this type of defense. Therefore, when planning the training sessions, they should keep this in mind.

The reality is with many junior teams, the coach will have limited information about the opponent, so often the focus will be on the strengths of their own team and how they want the game played (tempo etc.)

For those weeks in which games to win are to be played, the coach can devote one or two practice sessions to preparing specifically for those games. The rest of the time, the coach should not use practice time for preparing for games.

Whatever the main objective of the game, the coach should establish performance goals for all of them. For those games in which the main objective is winning, performance goals increase the probability of achieving this result. And for other games, performance goals related with the players’ individual or collective progress, help to achieve improvement.