Coaching Youth Basketball: Keep It Fun for Younger Players

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Use games to teach dribbling, shooting, passing, and improve gross motor skills

Ask players to pair up. Start with one player at the free-throw line and the other player in the middle of the lane. The offensive player must stay inside the sidelines and cannot go out of bounds. This drill teaches the players to move their feet and stay in proper ready position, keeping their knees bent for better balance. On command, all players begin dribbling, and this player tries to touch the other players all players are still maintaining their dribble.

Once touched, a player must freeze, still dribbling while stationary. After a specified number of dribbles to be determined by the coach , the player may be unfrozen. Limit the area for the game to one half of the court or even from free-throw line to baseline so the designated player has more success.

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Early-Season Practice Plan Date: Coaching Points Players need to be lined up and organized for warm-ups. Using the same format for warm-ups each practice will enhance the discipline of the group. The coach can have a different player lead warm-ups each day; this will help the players develop leadership. Four-Line Jump Stops and V-Cuts 10 minutes Organize the team into four lines on the baseline with no more than four players in each line.

Coaching Point Players tend to have a difficult time stopping in balance, so check that the feet are shoulder-width apart, the hands are above the waist, the head is not leaning forward, and the chin is up.

Coaching Point After one or two minutes, the coach should choose a new player to be It. Stationary Dribbling, Right- and Left-Handed 10 minutes Each player has a basketball if this is not possible, players can be split up into two groups, and the drill can be performed by one group at a time.

Coaching Points These young players may try to dribble with the palm of their hand instead of the pads of the fingers and hand. The elbow should stay in close to the hip and should not be away from the body. Form Shooting While Sitting Cross-Legged 10 minutes Have players sit cross-legged on the floor in pairs facing each other, with one ball per pair. Coaching Points This drill can be done with the players shooting against a wall if there are enough basketballs for each player to have one. Emphasize that the hand below the ball should be the only hand that shoots the ball.

Pair Passing, Air and Bounce 10 minutes Players pair up, and each pair stands about 6 to 8 feet to cm from each other. Coaching Points Show the players that a bounce pass should be caught by the partner at the same level that the ball was passed from. Note that young players tend to bring the ball above the head to pass; emphasize that each pass should be made from the waist. Mass Defensive Slide 5 minutes All players set up in a scattered formation around the coach, who is in position for all the players to see.

Coaching Points This is a good time to play follow the leader. Have one player positioned in front of the group to lead the other players in the defensive slide drill. Defensive Mirror 10 minutes Ask players to pair up, with one player on each side of a line on the court such as the free-throw line or baseline. Coaching Point Tell defenders to keep their eyes on the waist of their offensive player as they move to stay with her. Coaching Point This drill teaches the players to move their feet and stay in proper ready position, keeping their knees bent for better balance.

Dribble Freeze Tag 10 minutes Each player has a basketball if this is not possible, players can be split up into two groups, and the drill can be performed by one group at a time. Coaching Point Limit the area for the game to one half of the court or even from free-throw line to baseline so the designated player has more success.

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Offer smaller balls and lower the nets, if possible. At times, younger children will sacrifice form to accommodate for a heavier ball heaved toward an impossibly high net. Since form and technique are the basis of basketball, scaled-down equipment can help them learn properly.

Teach the right way to shoot a basketball at the basket. Children can remember how to properly shoot by remembering the acronym BEEF. This stands for balance, eyes on the target, elbow straight, follow through.

This can help children more easily remember what to do at the basket. If necessary, post the word around the gym as a reminder. Introduce drills that seem more like games to keep the attention of the children. A regular pass and shooting drill may be so boring that children act out. Instead, try playing games like "Red Light, Green Light.

When you call "green light," they dribble with their dominant hand. Games keep children engaged as they hone their skills. Offer praise for good technique. Coaching 8- to year-olds can be frustrating, especially as they can be clumsy and uncoordinated. Instead of focusing on winning games, encourage good form as they learn to shoot, pass and dribble. As they grow older, they will remember the basics, and become more competent and proficient players.