The North Marion assistant coach facilitated skill development and good times at the North Marion basketball camp.

North Marion high school kicked off camp season last week with its basketball camp.

North Marion assistant girls coach Kelsey Kahle has been teaching basketball camps for a decade and like most coaches, she focuses on teaching basic skills like dribbling, ball-control, shooting and passing.

“A lot of this camp, because it has such a big spectrum of ages, works on a lot of fundamentals, individual skill development and starts building both offensive skills and defensive skills,” Kahle said.

Like most camps, North Marion runs its drills where everyone lines up in rows and columns to practice basic drills, as Kahle tries to teach her students how to control their bodies on the court.

But Kahle is not lost on the fact that her players are all much younger than the high school athletes she typically coaches during the winter season.

In between drills, Kahle breaks the groups down to play games that lighten the atmosphere but still keep everyone competing and having fun.

“Everybody needs a little something to break up the learning,” Kahle said. “You have to intersperse a couple mental reprieves and physical breaks, different games and such so they’re rejuvenated to learn the next step.”

Her goal is twofold. She keeps the camp fun so kids are enthusiastic and are having a good time.

“Motivation is huge,” she said. “Kids who come and aren’t motivated and don’t want to be there, they don’t want to come the next day.”

However, each game utilizes a basic skill that was taught at camp.

Take “line tag” for example. It’s your basic schoolyard game of tag, but each participant is only allowed to run on the various basketball and volleyball lines that crisscross the court.

Kahle starts a game of line tag to warm up the girls for the final day of camp Thursday morning, knowing they had previously worked on angle cuts and speed cuts on Wednesday.

“They’re practicing their cuts, but they’re doing it in a fun way,” she said. “They can use it in the form of a game and they can say, ‘Oh, OK. I see the applicability.’ Or maybe they’re trying it and they’re not even having to think about it. They’re just practicing what we worked on at the preceding drill.”

As camp progresses, the drills become more complex and work several skills together.

By the end of the week, the various basketball maneuvers — which were somewhat jerky and awkwardly executed at first — become more fluid with each passing day.

Kahle wants players to come away with a better understanding of the game, both in its moves and its terminology.

“Teaching the terminology and the language is huge,” Kahle said. “There’s a big assumption that a lot of coaches have, that their athletes have all heard the same terminology. That’s a fallacy.”

They also seek to get campers excited about the game and teach them the skills to practice it throughout the summer,” Kahle said.

“I like to make it more of an individual skill basis at camp,” Kahle said. “It’s not very often where they’re going to have five girls trying to run a practice. You try to give them a couple of drills, whether it’s a shooting drill or a ball-handling drill, where they can almost design their own workout plan when they’re gone.”

In the long term, Kahle hopes to build a rock solid program so that athletes at the elementary and middle school levels can make an easier transition to the higher levels of competition.

“It’s a great foundational skill set from which to build,” Kahle said. “If we know this is something that they’ve heard before going into the next season, we know where we should start.”

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