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How to Make a Practice Plan for Youth Basketball Players

Updated: May 1, 2022

We all know how frustrating and time-consuming planning a basketball practice can be. Searching through Google and Youtube after work trying to find a bunch of drills that fit together can be a nightmare. Questions start popping up such as “will the kids actually enjoy these drills” or “will this practice help the kids develop their skills”. At times, it can seem impossible to strike the right balance.

It's important to remember that these are not adults, therefore, we can not run a practice for 8-year-olds that is made for 16-year-olds. At the younger ages, a coach has to look at the practice from a developmental standpoint. Some things to consider when working with the younger age groups can include how much repetition a drill allows, how long it takes to explain the drill, and how to sequence the drills in an order that allows for the maximum amount of skill development. Thankfully, we took care of all that for you! Below, you will find an easy-to-use template that considers all those fine details and is ready to use for the next practice. Now, let's go through some key takeaways on how to structure your practice plan so you can keep your players engaged throughout the entire season!


Want more great practice plans for Basketball? Check out the Athlete Era Basketball app available on IOS and Android!


Create a general structure for your practice plan

A great place to start is by having a general structure in mind before deciding on what drills you are going to choose. Canada Basketball recommends that sessions last about 60 minutes up until ages 9-10. To make it easy, you can break your practice up into 4 different sections. At the younger age groups, simplicity is key. The more time the coach spends explaining the drills, the less time players are playing the game. Here is a general outline of what type of drill each section should have.

5-10 minutes: Warm-up

The goal of a warm-up is to physically prepare the players for the practice. This section should have low organization and include a game that the players can understand right away. At the youth ages, a tag-like game is a great way to make sure the players are having fun while still getting the body warm!

15-20 minutes: Game-like activity

This section is where the coach observes. This section should have a game that is centred around the main focus of the practice. For example, if you are working on dribbling or ball handling, have the players play a game where they get lots of time with the ball and opportunities to dribble. During this time, the coach should be watching to see what areas the players need to work on. This can help determine the cues that are given in the next section

15-20 minutes: Focused skill work

In this section, players have the opportunity to work on the skill in an isolated environment. The focus should be on maximum repetition of the skill where the coach can provide specific feedback to what they saw the players needed to work on. Make sure you are not providing cues on things that players are already doing well. Try choosing specific cues that the players need to work on.

20-25 minutes: Modified gameplay

The final piece of practice should always be the most fun. Make sure the game here looks and feels like basketball. The coach should provide very little feedback to the players as this is a time that can be used to observe if the players are implementing the skills that they worked on into a game-like scenario. We recommend using small-sided games played on half a court so players get more opportunities to practice the specific skills they just learned.

Completed practice plan example

Curious to see what all these sections look like when you add the drills? Click here to see an example of a completed practice plan!

Modifying your practice plan

Now that you have seen the completed practice plan and have a good idea of how it's structured and what drills to use, it's time to talk about how adjustments can be made. It’s no secret that when working with younger children, especially in a sporting context, not everything is always going to go exactly as planned. There may be times when due to a busy gym schedule, you only have 45 minutes. In this case, don’t be afraid to move through certain sections quicker such as the warm-up and skill work sections to allow more time for the game-related sections. At the same time, modifications can be made in relation to the skill level of the players. For example, if you as the coach feel that there needs to be more time to work on layups to allow the players more time to develop their technique, there is no problem in lengthening that focused skill work section. The same can be said if the players are progressing faster than anticipated. Knowing how to make smart modifications is a great tool for coaches to have and will likely come in handy at some point in the season.


Variations within drills are an essential part of helping the players improve as well as being a key component in determining the length of each section. Each of the drills within the completed practice plan has variations to help keep the players engaged no matter what skill level they are at. Consider sticking to variations that the players can get quality repetitions in before progressing to a different variation. Ultimately, this decision will come down to what you, the coach, have observed.

Looks like you are all set to run your next practice!


Want more great practice plans for Basketball? Check out the Athlete Era Basketball app available on IOS and Android!




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