Practice can be a daunting time for any new basketball coach especially if you are a volunteer or first-time coach. The kids are looking at you as if you have the knowledge of Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Lebron James, and Larry Bird (Well, maybe not Larry Bird; his time was before your team was probably born!) rolled into one. As a coach, you want to use your time as best as possible and not only just have some clue what to do but win the game. I’m going to give you five great youth basketball drills that you can use for your next practice and any practice because these exercises are designed to put your kids into game shape as well as help them progress to the next level.
1. Defense Slide Drill – In case, you want your players to have both hands out, knees bent, and head up. This is the correct posture, and you should be militant about making sure the defense always has this posture. Also, players need to slide across the floor keeping the ball and player in front of them instead of chasing the man with the ball.
In this drill, use cones to mark off 8-12 feet wide area and at least 30 feet long. One player in this drill will have the ball, and the other will practice his defensive slide. The player with the ball will dribble left until he hits the sideline, then dribble right, until he hits the other boundary. The defensive player’s goal is to force the offensive player to go all the way to the sideline without fouling or losing position. This will create a sort of zig-zag pattern and will help with defensive posture and slide.
2. Line Sprints – All players line up on the baseline on one side of the court. In this drill, players will be running continuously from the baseline then to the free throw line, back to the baseline, to the half court line, back to the baseline, to the opposite free throw line, back to the baseline, then all the way to opposite end of the court and back. So, the players will not stop sprinting until they have finished going to each line than coming back. At the sound of the whistle, players will start going from line to line. The catch is that they have to touch the ground with their hand at each line. So, when they start and run to the free throw line, they feel the ground. When they run back to the base line, they touch the ground again. This process will continue until they are finished.
3. Basic Lay-up Drill – If you can teach your team how to make basic lay-ups with their left and right hands, you will do what many youth basketball coaches do not do. Therefore, this should be one of the youth basketball drills that you run every practice.
In this drill, you will divide your players into two lines at the half court mark on the left and right sides of the circle. The left side will be the rebounding line, and the right side will be the lay-up line. The first kid will have the ball and is to dribble as fast as possible (without the ball going flying!) to the hoop, jump off his left leg and shoot the lay-up with his right hand. The rebounder in the left lane will rebind the ball and pass it to the next kid in line. After this is done, then, you switch the process with the left lane being the lay-up line and the right will be the rebounding line.
4. Fast Break Lay-up Drill – Again, most of your points will be off of lay-ups, so if you can optimize this drill, you will lead a productive season. Like the previous exercise, you will start with the right hand and then switch to the left side. To save time, you can split into two groups that will be on opposite sides of the court.
In this drill, each player starts at the different aspect of the court and dribbles the ball as fast as possible until they make it to the different goal and shoot a right-handed lay-up. While this is going on, players from the other side will be dribbling down trying to shoot lay-ups on their goal.
5. Full-Court Dribble – Again, if you notice, all of these youth basketball drills are helping your players learn how to control the ball and make shots that they should be taking in the game have you ever looked at NBA stats and seen who usually has the highest percentage of made shots? It’s usually the forwards because they are right next to the basket.
In this drill, players will be dribbling down the court one way right-handed and come back dripping only left-handed. This will help improve ball-handling, speed, and conditioning. You can also mix it up by placing cones for obstacles and other methods.