In youth basketball and beyond, coaches can be just as important as the players on the team. From helping to form team chemistry, teaching the mechanics of the game, and motivating players, to forming and implementing a strategy, good coaches can be a true difference maker for your program. In this post, you’ll learn our top 6 youth basketball drills that coaches can implement into their teams training regimen to help them learn and succeed.
When it comes to youth basketball drills, there’s a few different types of drills you should implement into your program. There’s team drills to help build up team chemistry and composition, there’s individual drills that players can use to build on their own skills, and then there’s endurance drills which certainly come in handy during crunch time.
Youth Basketball Team Drills
“A basketball team is like the five fingers on your hand. If you can get them all together, you have a fist. That’s how I want you to play.” – Mike Krzyzewski
Defensive Footwork Progressions
Although defense may not be the most fun skill to learn in basketball, it’s very important to teach your kids about the fundamentals of defense. And in basketball, your footwork can really make or break your defense.
These 6 defensive progressions can make a huge difference for your players defensive skills. From push steps, quick turns, and sprints, to combining them all together, the defensive experts over at BreakthroughBBall will set your defensive footwork fundamentals straight!
5 Star Passing Drill
The 5 star passing drill is a great way to work on passing teamwork, the hands of your players, their footwork, and communication skills. All you need for this drill is 1 basketball and 10 or more players.
You can start the drill by having at least two players on each point of the 5 stars. The points you want the players to be around are: under the basket, and then each corner of the half-court. The ball always starts under the basket and that player passes it to their right and then follows that pass until they’re in the back of the line in their new point. The player who caught the ball is then going to pass to the baseline corner on their right and the 3rd player should pass it to the opposite baseline corner. The 4th player is then going to bounce pass to the last point player who’s cutting for a layup. From there just repeat the drill!
Youth Basketball Individual Drills
Although individual skills aren’t everything in basketball seeing as it is a team sport, they certainly help to elevate you to a whole different level of game and confidence. Take it from Michael Jordan..
“Being afraid on the court means you’re not confident of your skills” – Michael Jordan
Full-Court Ball Handling Drill
The purpose of this drill is to not only work on your players ball handling, but also to work on their conditioning and speed.
The types of dribbles your players should be utilizing are:
- Speed Dribbles
- Behind the Back
- Spin Dribbles
- Inside Out
To take this drill to the next level, you can instruct your player to do a set of moves together such as a crossover to between the legs. To amp the drill up even further, you can have your players really try to pick up their hand and movement speeds once they get the fundamentals down first.
Individual Shooting Drills
When it comes to shooting drills, it’s all about establishing the right fundamentals and then building a rhythm. A good clean shot should feel fluid and require almost no thought, becoming purely muscle memory.
While individual shooting drills may seem tough for some of your players, the most determines one’s will reap the benefits. That’s what separates players like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant from those playing in a recreation league. Depending on how determined your players are to have a great shot, they can run these shooting drills for as little as 15 minutes to as much as a few hours per day. Just be sure to remind them that shooting is all about repetition!
A good starting point for shooting drills your players can do individually are baseline to baseline three pointers. This drill is great because you can shoot, get your rebound and run right to the next baseline all while keeping your rhythm. An added benefit of this drill is it indirectly works on your endurance.
For more ideas, check out this video from ILoveBasketballTV!
Youth Basketball Endurance Drills
"Push yourself again and again. Don't give an inch until the final buzzer sounds" - Larry Bird
Back in my sporting days, my coaches loved to run our team into the ground and while I wasn’t a major fan in the moment, it certainly paid off when it came game time. One of their favorite drills to run was suicide sprints. This is a lot like regular sprints but can be much more intensive.
The way it works is you have your team run to 1/3rd of the court and then back to the baseline, then 1/2 of the court and back to the baseline, and lastly, the fully court and then back to the baseline. You can use a 3/1 workout to rest ratio, or any other ratio you see fit. I also recommend that you take these slowly. Start out with 5 or so reps at the start of the season and build from there. By the end of the season, you may be surprised on how many your basketball players can run without breaking a sweat!
Endurance Cycle Sets
Endurance cycle sets can work wonders for your players conditioning and strength. One of the best parts about cycle sets is that you can get very creative with the workouts you run and the time you run them. Just like the suicide sprints above, start small at the beginning of the season and work on increasing the rep and workout times as the season progresses.
A good starting point for workouts to include in your cycle sets are:
- Push-Ups (with one hand on a basketball)
- Sprinting while Dribbling
All in all, feel free to get creative and change the workouts you use in your cycle based on your team needs. If your team has a lot of strength and not so much stamina, try working in some more sprint type drills and vice-versa.
6 Top Youth Basketball Drills for Coaches
While this post may only highlight a few of the many great drills coaches can run for their players, they're guaranteed to be a great place to start for your youth basketball program. While running these drills, just be sure to keep in mind the age and current skill level of your players. You can always start small and build from there! Becoming a master of these few drills can work wonders your players confidence by the end of the season.