Coaching a youth basketball team is a challenging task, but perhaps one of the most rewarding experiences you can take part in. Regardless of the age of the players, or the reason for why they are playing, effective coaching is key in guiding them to success. Below are a few drills you can teach these young athletes to improve their play, and most importantly, allow them to have fun.
Drills involving players’ footwork are essential. Basketball is all about quickness and agility, and to lack proper footwork would destine one for failure. These simple drills can greatly enhance a player’s footwork for the quickness needed in-game.
- Quick Stance
- This drill teaches the importance of positioning one’s self for speed. With the weight spread entirely across a player’s feet at shoulder-width, bending all joints allows for a quick burst of speed on both defense and offense. Keep your arms in tight as an offensive player to protect the ball, but follow the ball with your hands if you are on defense.
- Jump Stop
- Jumping from one foot and landing on two is an important drill for dealing with a strong defense. Landing in the triple threat position, players must get their heels down and their backs straight. A proper jump stop should be heard. If your shoes squeak upon landing, you’ve effectively stopped in the correct stance.
- V Cut
- Sometimes called the “offensive zig zag,” this drill begins in the triple threat position. Players should drive to their right with their weight on the outside foot, then plant and step, cutting back to the left. This is a great escape move that players can eventually manipulate in their own ways for better agility.
Dribbling and handling the ball is a cornerstone in basketball elements. Sloppy ball handling skills can translate directly to steals, traveling, or a variety of other simple mistakes. The following drills are very effective in developing players’ ability to dribble, pass, and drive.
- Dribble Drive
- Broken into two parts, the dribble drive skill can be either direct, or crossover. For right handed players, going to your right is a direct drive, and to your left is a crossover; the opposite being for left handed players. Beginning in a ready position, the direct drive involves taking a long, low step forward with your right foot and keeping your back leg straight, holding this position. For a crossover drive, begin in the same stance, but cross your right leg over to the left in a long and low step, keeping the ball firm in your left hand.
- Two Ball
- Dribbling two balls with each hand, bounce them at the same exact time for about 20 reps. Then, bounce them interchangeably to develop a better feel for dribbling. While this may be more of an advanced drill, it is certainly helpful in improving a player’s ball handling skills.
Just For Fun
If players are beginning to show signs of exhaustion or just plain loss of interest, get them motivated to keep moving with the following drills that are not only fun, but beneficial in developing skills that can be applied in actual games.
- Loose Ball Scramble
- As a coach, have players line up at half court. Throw the ball toward the foul line and have every player race to get it first. Vary how you throw the ball by rolling it on the ground, throwing it straight ahead, or high up in the air. This can simulate in-game situations of a loose ball.
- A classic childhood game applied to basketball, this can improve both defensive and passing skills. Have 3-5 players form a circle with one player in the middle. That one player must attempt to steal the ball from the others who should be varying their passing strategies to avoid having it stolen.
- Blind Shooting
- Have your team compete to see who can make the most foul shots blindfolded. Not only can this generate a lot of laughs among teammates, but it can develop a better sense in how and where to shoot the ball when standing at the foul line.