Kids need to go a long way in order to become great players. Before they start to dunk the ball, perform some amazing dribbles and fade-away shots, they have to build a strong foundation. This is a job of a coach – to teach and develop basketball fundamentals. It’s an unavoidable step, essential for any further development.
However, youth’s coaches need to have in mind that they’re working with children, and children have one thing that’s the deciding factor when they’re choosing whether or not they want to do something – they want to have fun whatever they do.
Working on basketball fundamentals, although essential, is not among the most entertaining aspects of the game. So to teach them something that could be “boring” and “not fun”, it requires serious planning and commitment. Therefore, coach’s job is not only to help kids build a foundation, but also to make them fall in love with the game in order for them to be positively motivated to perform any drill that coach has in mind.
With all this in mind, it’s clear that any basketball drill for kids needs to have a combination of two elements: First, it needs to help them develop the fundamentals. Second, it needs to be entertaining for them.
This is not an easy task. But luckily for all of you youth’s coaches, now you have this article. Here, you’ll find basketball drills for kids’ development that combine these two factors, making them perfect to accomplish your coaching goals.
In this article, drills for the age group 7-11 years will be presented. This age group is taken as a first step in kids’ basketball development. The decision for this age spawn is based on recommendations of NBA & USA Basketball Guidelines (https://youthguidelines.nba.com/).
At this period of age, it is desirable to adjust the size of the court, ball, as well as the hoop size to fit the physical possibilities of the children. Of course, there are lots of basketball clubs all over the world which don’t have financial possibilities and conditions to adjust their basketball court for every age group. But here are some general guidelines in that regard, in case you, as a coach, have the conditions to implement them.
As mentioned at the beginning, the purpose of the drills is to develop basic fundamental skills in kids, while also not taking away the enjoyment while performing them. Sometimes this can be done easily, while other times it’s not that simple, especially when working on defensive skills.
It is important that your training include every segment of the game, as your practicing day and hour are limited with this age group. So you should have a little bit of everything – from passing and shooting to defense and fitness.
For this reason, we divided drills into three major segments – warmup, offensive, and defensive.
This segment of basketball training is often overlooked, but is equally, if not more important than any basketball-related part. It is crucial for kids to prepare themselves for the training physically, thus preventing any risk of unwanted injuries and complications.
On the first look, it could seem like this is something that kids would unwillingly perform. But there are several ways to activate and prepare their muscles for the training, while at the same time having fun doing that. Here are some suggestions.
At this point of basketball development, kids should focus on the most basic basketball elements. Don’t bother them with offensive plays and set pieces – just work on the fundamentals.
For start, focus on three most important elements of the offense; passing, dribbling and shooting
1. Partner Passing – Star your passing segment stationary. It important to develop the right passing technique and the best way is to place your players on the one spot so you can easily observe and correct the mistakes.
Instructions: Divide players into groups of two, with one player facing the other. Every pass should start in triple treat position! On your command, players pass the ball to each other. Alternate types of passes; chest pass, overhead pass, bounce pass…
Focus on: Make the players pass with both hands, and then alternate one hand pass, both left and right hand. Your goal is overall development of both hands. The goal is to develop every aspect of pass, from receiving the ball, taking triple treat position, all the way to passing mechanics
2. Keeping offs – Another fun drill for the kids with competition elements. This drill should also be stationary for the passers in order for the coach to easily observe and correct the mistakes.
Instructions: Divide the players into groups with passers and defenders. Passers from the circle and defenders are inside the circle. Have more passers than defenders. The goal is to pass the ball to a teammate on the circle, while defenders try to intersect the pass. Kids can use any pass type, as long as it’s performed correctly. If a player doesn’t pass the right way, let him know that, and if he repeats it, switch him inside the circle to be a defender. Set a goal in number of passes completed without defense stealing the ball. Alternate players from passers to defenders, and make corrections whenever you have the chance
3. Weave – After stationary drills, it’s time to get things moving. The weave drill is a great way to combine movement and passing.
Instructions: Weave can be performed in groups of 3, 4, or 5 players. Start with 3 players and gradually work the way to 5. Players start at the baseline. One group has one ball. The first player in the group is under the rim, other two on the both sides of the court. The drill starts when the first player passes the ball on either side. Player who receives the pass runs to the middle and the passer runs behind his back and takes his spot. The goal is to get to the other side of the court by repeating the sequence.
It’s always good to finish the drill with the shot, so the player who receives the ball closest to the basket takes the shot. When the first group gets to the middle of the court, give signal to the next group to start the drill. You can choose one type of pass for the whole drill, or give players freedom to make any type of pass, as long as it’s performed correctly.
Checkout this video for more kids passing drills:
1. Layups – It’s good to start shooting drill segment with the most basic shot in the game.
Instructions: Our recommendation is to implement some movement prior to shooting in this drill, simulating in-game situations. Place the players on the baseline, with the coach standing around the arc. On your mark a player makes a cut towards the arc, receives the pass, pivot towards the basket and take triple treat position. Then he dribbles towards the basket and makes two-foot layup. Every player should be able to perform layups with both left and right hand, depending on the side of the court. Be sure that everyone does this – developing both hands for layup shooting is fundamental for their basketball development.
2. Around the world – This drill has a lot of variations, so we’ll present to you one that fits the needs and goals for youth coaching.
Instructions: All the players start at the same spot, in a row. If you have another coach, you can use both hoops. Use the lane line as a shooting area, don’t take long distance shots at this point – it’s important to develop the right mechanics. So start at the right block. A player takes the shot. If he makes it, he moves to the next shooting spot. If the misses, he gets back at the same spot, at the end of the row. After all players make one shot, start the next series. The goal is for all the players to make the shot from every spot you give them, circling around the paint from one side to the other. The drill finishes when the last player makes the shot from the last shooting place.
Focus on: Because players are taking one shot at the time, you have enough space to observe every shot and make corrections at the spot. The range is not the priority – it’s the right mechanics. Don’t shoot 3-pointers, as kids at this age have not enough physicality for long distance shots. Don’t encourage three pointing shooting. If a player during practice or game makes 3-point shot, simply count it as a two. That will demotivate them to shoot threes.
3. Shooting contest – Another fun, competitive drill you can use for the end of your training session. More than anything, kids love competing in shooing.
Instructions: Here is a version of the drill you can use to utilize several components of the game. Make groups of two players, who have similar shooting and basketball abilities. Position them on the baseline, one on the each side of the basket. You can make it fun and start them in lying position. Two players who are next in line are standing at half court. On your mark, the players stand up and run towards the wings. They receive the ball, pivot towards the basket, and from triple treat position start dribbling to the rim. Their first shot is a layup – a player on the right side must shoot the ball with the right arm, and player on the left side with left arm. Player who makes the shot sprints towards the opposite wing and repeats the process, this time on the other side.
If a player misses, he must repeat the process. After making layups on the both sides, players repeat the process of receiving the ball. This time, instead of driving to the rim, they should take mid-range shot using one-two step, also on both sides of the court. The last shot is free-throw. A player who completes the task first is the winner.
Focus on: Examine every player’s movement. Make sure they pivot, drive and shoot the right way. If they aren’t, let them know and next time they start over again.
1. Stationary dribbling – For the start, as with passing, start with stationary drill.
Instructions: Spread the player all over the court. On your command, from the triple treat position, they start performing the dribble you called. Utilize all sorts of dribbles – one hand, crossover, behind the back, between the legs etc. Every dribble is allowed – kids shouldn’t be scared to try anything, as long as they do it right.
Focus on: Always insist on kids having their head up all the time. No looking at the ball or the floor! Pay attention to the feet position also. Correct every mistake.
2. Cones race – Now it’s time to have some fun. Another competitive drill that will get kids going.
Instructions: Separate the kids in two groups, each on the other side of the court. Use full court for this drill. Place the cones (or any sort of marker) at several spots on the each court side all along the court. On your mark, the first pair goes from one baseline to the other, with stops at the cone to perform a dribble you asked. The first one who finishes at the other baseline is the winner.
Focus on: Although this is a race and the goal is to get the first, don’t allow any miss-dribble. Make players perform every dribble the right way, and make them go again if they aren’t.
3. Dribble knockout – At the end, as always, the most fun drill.
Instructions: Depending on the number of players, select the area of the court for the drill. The narrower the area is, the better. As the number of players decline, narrow the are amore and more. Every kid has a basketball in its hands, on your mark, everyone start dribbling the ball, and they can’t catch it for all the time the drill is run. The goal is to keep the ball in possession, while trying to kick the ball out of other player’s hands. Who gets its ball kicked, leaves the game. The winner is the last player still dribbling.
Check out this video for more:
At this young age, the only type of defense you should work on with the players is man to man defense. The emphasis should be on on-ball defense, teaching players to position themselves between their man and the basket, as well as basic off-ball defense on the pass line and help side. Double teaming is not desirable at this stage, as the kids are not physically ready to react. You can also implement some basic concepts of rotation.
1.Cone to cone – This is the perfect drill to start practicing basic defensive elements.
Instructions: Place the cones along the court as you wish. On your marks, the first player goes towards the first cone. The way of its movement is set by you. For example, let them first sprint, then go sliding, then back-pedal, then sprint again. Combine every defensive movement in the drill.
Focus on: Take a close look at the footwork. Correct every mistake in the process. Keeping the head up is a must!
2. Following – This drill will includes an offensive player, giving the defenders better feeling of real game situation.
Instructions: The drill is practically a defensive version of our “cone race” dribble drill. Place cones (markers) on the court. Two players are involved in the drill, one with the ball, and the other as defender. As there is an emphasis in defense in this drill, tell the attackers not to run the full speed and allow defender to keep pace. The goal for defender is to follow the offensive player all the way through, keeping the defensive stance. It’s not a race, so don’t rush players – the most important thing is for them to keep the stance all the way.
So, there are some useful basketball drills for kids that can help with your practice planning. Have in mind that the age of the kids (7-11) is still not suitable for single sport, so most probably they’ll try other sports as well. In order to attract them towards basketball, you need to make your practice in the way so you can teach them all the fundamentals of the game, but at the same time they need to have fun doing that. We hope we helped you with this difficult task.
Enjoy the game!