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Oldaker: When Your Team Struggles, Focus On Improving (Not Winning)

  • Date:
    Dec 12, 2014

Entering her 12th season as the girls basketball head coach at Mt. Lebanon High School in Pittsburgh, Dori Oldaker also is a veteran USA Basketball coach. Most recently, she led the U.S. Youth Olympic Women’s Basketball Team to a gold medal in the 3x3 competition at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.

Catching Up With Dori Oldaker

Coach Oldaker took some time to answer questions that you submitted via Facebook and Twitter. Here are her responses:

Coach Oldaker, what would you do if you had a squad of 6th-grade girls that have been training and practicing for weeks to prepare for a game -- with breaks in there -- and they go into the game and they play dismally like they've never played together and they've been playing for 3 years together? … They are normally a good squad but for some reason they just looked horrible on the court -- 15 turnovers, only put up 15 points (they average 35 ppg), poor display of the fundamentals that they know. What would you do, Coach? -- Coach-Bree King

Thanks for asking.  This has happened to our team before, as recently as this year.  We went to a scrimmage after having eight intense practices and it had looked like we had NEVER played basketball before!  Our staff talked about it and decided that it was best just to get back in the gym and get BETTER!  We are trying to get better every drill, every practice, every day.  We focus on improving, not winning!  If we continue to improve, the wins will take care of themselves!  We are 2-0 right now in our season.  Our practices consist of 80-90 percent drills and fundamentals, not scrimmaging!


Any favorite offensive sets? Or sideline sets? -- @CoachSQuigley 

Nice question.  I like motion offenses and pick and rolls.  We have really tried to open up our offense with having our team using "Read and React" offenses.   My favorite SLOBs and BLOBs [sideline and baseline out of bounds plays] are the ones that get us a quick basket.


Hi coach, How could I make my non-dominant hand (left hand) more effective when it come to dribbling, layups, etc.? -- Marquis Patrick 

I like this question!  In our practices and open gyms, we do a lot of 2-ball dribbling drills.  We have girls use gloves and goggles to handle the rock.  The goggles keep the players from seeing the ball.  I love to use a drill called 3-man Triangular ball handling & passing drill -- each player is dribbling two basketballs while passing to their teammates on the whistle.  Also, we have players close their eyes when they are doing 2-ball stationary ball handling.  Another great drill is stationary ball handling using three basketballs and keeping all three basketballs alive!


In your opinion what is the most important fundamental for youngsters 6 & 7 years old to work on? -- @GauchoNick00 

Interesting question... I have a 6-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old daughter who play hoops!  My husband and I work with our daughters in our driveway/basketball court.  Our main focus with our girls is having the proper shooting technique, and our hoop is lowered, so that our girls are actually shooting the ball, not throwing it up at the hoop. (Main focus: elbow under the ball!)  We try to make our girls dribble with their non-dominant hand anytime they are playing on the court.  Another focus is working on FUNdamentals and keeping the FUN in the game for them!

How do I work on my three-point shot? -- Lennon Crisp 

Perfecting the 3-point shot! There aren't any miracle pills for this one!  Repetition, repetition and hard work!  Plus, you need a great friend or relative to rebound for you!  Using the "Shoot-Away" or "The Gun" is very helpful, and you can get off a lot of shots in a short period of time, plus you don't need an exhausted rebounder!


Coach Oldaker: Is there any chance for a woman to be a head coach in the NBA? What will it take for it to happen? Thanks. -- Jonathan Mark Te

Great question!  Woman head coach in the NBA?  Not sure if I will live to see this happen, but why not? 


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