5 Great Basketball Drills For Kids

Updated: May 1



As a coach, finding the best basketball drills for kids can be a daunting task. How do you know if the player will like the drill or if it is helping them develop their skills? Striking a balance between drills that keep the kids engaged but still provide the right environment to help them develop their skills is quite difficult and definitely not a problem a coach wants to be solving when they have a limited amount of time.


Luckily, we are here to ease your mind!


For starters, every coach should remember that there isn’t a one size fits all approach to choosing the right drill. However, there are some key things a coach should keep in mind before choosing what to do for the next practice.


The first question a coach should ask themselves is "Is this drill appropriate for the age group I'm coaching". Coaches should avoid using drills that include difficult tactical concepts without the ball. The more time the player has the ball in their hands, the better! For players who are just starting to play organized basketball, we recommend choosing drills that look and feel like the actual game of basketball but are done so in a modified environment. This will allow kids to get the necessary repetition to help develop their foundational skills while engaging in a fun game-like activity. Keep in mind that no matter what drill you choose, enjoyment should always be the name of the game. When kids are first learning the game, let the drill itself be the coach and the coach be the guide.


Now that we know where to start, let's go through what a drill is, what makes it good, and some examples of some drills to try at your next practice.


What is a drill?


A drill should provide the frequent repetition of skills necessary to progress through the stages of skill acquisition towards skill mastery. Coaches should use a variety of different drills across practices to ensure an athlete does not get bored and learns to use the skill in a variety of different situations. These drills should be both easy for the coach to explain and easy for the player to understand.


What makes a good drill?


A good drill allows a kid to repeatedly practice skills that are found within the real game while progressively adding more variables as they improve. In the context of basketball, drills should start by allowing kids to spend time practicing a specific skill, such as shooting, with very little decision to make. In the context of basketball, this may look like some sort of drill that allows kids to take shots around the key without being guarded by an opponent. Remember to make the isolated skill work into fun game-like activities. This will help keep the kids engaged while also allowing them to get repetition. Building the technical skills from the ground up will give the kids a better chance of having success when playing the actual game of basketball.


Another change that can be made to help promote early success is to modify the equipment. It's important to remember that these are not full-grown athletes. Making modifications can give the kids a better chance to develop both competence and confidence to perform the skill using proper technique. Two of the main modifications that can be made are using smaller balls and lowering the hoop. For children under the age of 8, it is recommended that a size 5 basketball is used which is both smaller and lighter. This will allow the kids to properly perform the skill without making adjustments to their motor pattern to compensate due to the ball being too big or heavy for them. Another modification is hoop height. USA basketball recommends lowering the hoop to 8 feet for kids under the age of 8 and 9 feet for kids aged 9-11. These modifications will improve the player's chances of reaching the basket while using proper shooting techniques. The more success a player has, the more likely they are to fall in love with the game!


 

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


 

Here are 5 great basketball drills to try out next practice!


1. Through the gates


How to set it up

Divide players into two groups on each end of the court.

Use cones to create multiple gates in different places on the court.

Each player will begin with a ball.

How it works

The objective of the game is to score points by dribbling the ball between the gates

On the coach's "Go" call players will begin dribbling the ball.

Players will attempt to dribble between as many gates as possible within 30 seconds.

The player who dribbles through the most gates wins.

Players cannot dribble through the same gate twice in a row.

Two players cannot dribble through one gate at the same time.

Variations

Dribbling progression: Each game, have players do a different dribbling move when passing between the gates (crossover, between the legs, etc.)

Difficulty progression: Having fewer gates will make the activity more challenging as players will be required to find the open gate and race against opponents to reach the gate first.


2. Shoot to save


How to set it up

Assign 2-3 players to be taggers. Have everyone else spread out inside the playing area.

Give all players, including the taggers, a ball.

How it works

The objective of the game is to avoid getting tagged while dribbling the ball

All players start dribbling anywhere in the gym, trying to avoid being tagged

If a tagger tags a player, then this player must immediately run underneath a hoop, put his or her back against the wall, and hold the ball up over his or her head.

To be freed, a player frozen beneath a hoop must have his or her hoop scored on by a player who is still in the game.

Change taggers often to keep the game fast and fresh.

Variations

Have players try different types of shots to save their teammates


3. Dribble knockout


How to set it up

Have 1 - 2 players start without a ball

The rest of the players can grab a ball and start dribbling around inside the playing area (3-point line)

How it works

The objective of the drill is to try and avoid the player trying to steal the ball

Have players without the ball try to steal the ball away from players with the ball.

If a player successfully steals the ball, they begin dribbling.

The player who lost the ball will now try to steal the ball.

Continue for 1 - 2 minutes.

Each player earns a point if their ball doesn't get stolen.

Play 3-4 rounds, the player with the most points wins.

Variations

Adjust the size of the playing area depending on the number of players. If playing in a larger area, consider having 3-4 players without basketballs.

If players aren't moving when dribbling, add a rule that a player automatically loses the ball if they stand in the same place for more than 3 seconds.

Game variation: Once a player gets their ball stolen, they simply join the defending team (players without balls). The last player with a ball wins.


4. Pass & replace relay


How to set it up

Divide players into two teams.

Set up a triangle using cones (or court lines) on both ends of the court (1 triangle per team)

Players will form a line behind each cone.

One player on each team will start with the ball.

How it works

The objective of the drill is to introduce players to the concept of moving after making a pass using a relay race activity.

The coach will demonstrate what type of pass they want players to use during the race.

On the coach's "Go" call, the player with the ball on each team will pass to the player opposite of them.

They will then run to the back of that line.

This continues as players pass the ball around the triangle.

The first team to pass the ball around the triangle 10 times wins.

Introduce a new pass and repeat.

Variations

Let players pick what type of pass they want to use.

Once players are familiar with the different passes, call out a different pass during the relay race.

Simplify this game by creating two lines instead of a triangle.

Make this game more complex by adding a second ball, calling out a different pass during the relay race, or having players move to the back of the opposite line after making their pass (the line they did NOT pass the ball to).


5. Around the cone to layup


How to set it up

Set up 6 cones at each hoop in various positions on the court 10-15 feet away from the basket.

Split the group and half and have them go to either side of the court

How it works

The objective of the drill is to work on dribbling around a cone and finishing at the rim

One at a time, players will go through the circuit of cones completing lay-ups at each cone.

Make or miss they move on to the next one.

The next player in line will follow one the first player is at the third cone. Have players go through the circuit 2-3 times then switch directions

Variations

Finishing Variation:

Change the type of finish for each cone. For example, power layup, floater, euro step, etc.

Limit player to one bounce between each cone

Game Variations:

Add point values to each spot, with players earning points when they make the layup.

Players will compete by trying to get as many points as they can within a fixed time.

Increase Difficulty:

Add a guided defender to guard the basketball, have the defender shade the offensive player one way or the other.

Don’t have the defender block shots, but rather make a “wall” at the rim and contest the layup.

For younger players, the coach may have to act as the guided defender as players may not yet understand this defensive concept.


 

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


 

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