In the article below you will find 15 basketball drills intended for children and young adults. The drills have been split into five categories that make up the basics of basketball; shooting, dribbling, passing, defensive, and footwork. These drills are suited for children of all ages and can be adapted to suit players who are beginners all the way up to advanced. As the coach you will know best the level of your players and will be able to act accordingly.
For more resources and ideas there are a multitude of other articles as well as books and videos for you to consult, these fifteen drills were chosen because they are easy to adapt to any playing level and because each one has already been tried and tested by multiple coaches with multiple teams.
Best Basketball Practice Drills For Kids:
As I mentioned, this article is divided into shooting drills, passing drills and dribbling drills, defensive drills, and footwork drills. Let’s start with shooting:
Best Shooting Drills For Kids
These drills are intended to improve players shooting and scoring skills.
Purpose- for players to work on their shooting form while coaches observe in order to make corrections. How to practice- this drill involves the entire team at one time, players form three straight lines out and away from the basket. Each line should take up a different position relative to the basket; one team directly in front, one to the right and one to the left of the basket.
Each player is given a ball and should shoot a basket, the player holds their stance and form until the basket is made so that the coach can give corrections. Once a player has made their shot they can either go to the back of the same line they were in to try again or go to one of the other lines. Distance can be extended but not too far, this is a drill of form not strength.
Pivot shooting drill
This is a perfect drill for working on foot work as well as shooting form. Divide players into two lines with a coach or parent assigned to each team. The drill begins with each player making a chest pass to the coach/parent before heading to the free-throw line, the coach then passes the ball back which the player must catch with a jump stop, coaches should be sure that the form for the jump stop is correct, the player must then shoot a basket while coaches take notes on their form.
Three spot shooting drill
This drill can either be done as an individual or as a team exercise. A player must practice making a shot from three positions on the court. The first shot should be from the triple threat position, the second from further back, and the third from even further as close to the 3-point line as possible.
21 cone drill
The 21-cone drill is intended as an incentive based shooting drill. The coach places 21 cones on the baseline on one side of the court, if cones aren’t available you can use 21 other identical items. Players are split into two teams, each player takes turns shooting the ball if they make a shot they get to collect a cone or item for their team, the team with the most cones at the end of the game wins. The game ends only once every player has had the opportunity to shoot.
Form shooting drill
The easiest of all the shooting drills, it is also the most important. Coach should teach players the basic form for a 3-point shot, and then make sure the form is correct each time the player makes a shot. This is a drill that can be repeated daily.
Best Passing Drills For Kids
One of the essentials of basketball is teamwork, these drills promote that concept by teaching players how to pass and share the ball.
Wall passing drill
This is a perfect drill for your players to do at home as homework. The player should stand 15 feet away from a hard all and practice passing and catching. Be sure to warn players not to goof around by throwing the ball at the wall too hard, injuries can be made when the ball bounces back to fast for the player to catch. This is a good at home drill since it allows individual players to work on whatever type of pass they may be having problems with.
Players should be divided into pairs with one basketball shared between them. Coach will instruct payers on which pass they want the players to work on, players should stand facing each other in 2 parallel lines. The pairs will then take turns passing the ball to one another.
As a coach be sure that players are taking the drill seriously and not joking around by passing the ball too hard as this often leads to injury. To keep things from getting boring try to mix up the type of pass practiced every ten minutes or so.
Count em’ up
This drill is intended to help with passing as well as defensive skills. First as the coach you should divide your players into two equal teams, preferably in different color jerseys. There is only one ball involved in this drill, decide which team will pass first. The team that is passing are the guards, 1 player is assigned to guard 1 other player.
The passing team will try to pass to each other without the ball getting blocked or grabbed by the guarding team, no dribbling or shooting allowed, only passing. If the passing team can complete a certain number of passes without getting stopped then they earn a point, if the guarding team manages to block or grab the ball then the teams switch places. In order for this drill to be challenging be sure to pair your best players together so they can challenge each other.
Continuous 3 on 2
3 on 2 is an excellent drill to improve passing and team work, the three players are on the offensive side while two are on defensive with all of the other players standing out of bounds. It is the offensive teams job to try and score while the defensive team will try to get the ball and protect the net.
If the defensive team manages to stop the ball they then become the offensive team, one player from the former offensive team will go to the back of the line while a new player comes on to the court to join the new offensive team. The drill continues until every player has had the chance to play. To save time, consider splitting the players in two and half each play only half the court.
Best Dribbling Drills For Kids
Players must know how to dribble so that they don’t get pulled out of a game because of dribbling mistakes.
Not only is this an excellent drill for working on dribbling but it is also a lot of fun. First decide how large the playing area will be, this will depend on how many players you have. Players should be relatively close to each other to make this drill work. Each player has a ball and on the coach’s signal they should start dribbling; the goal of the drill is for a player to knock another player’s ball away while protecting their own from other players.
As more and more players are eliminated, the play area should be made smaller. As the coach you should keep an eye out for any fouling, traveling, or double dribbling, players who are guilty of these are automatically out. It is good to correct mistakes like this often as they can cost a team the game if done in front of referees.
This drill is very similar to the drill explained above, except instead of knocking the balls away from each other players are only responsible for keeping their own ball under control as they move around the designated area. The drill is designed to force players to keep their heads up while dribbling so that they don’t run into one another. As the coach be sure to instruct players that they must move around each other not in the same direction.
This is a fun drill intended to help improve dribbling while moving. Every player is given a ball except for two who will play the rolls of taggers. When the coach yells for the drill to start the players will start moving around the court while dribbling the ball. As a coach you may want to have one or two other adults to help referee, if a player is seen to be double dribbling or traveling then they are out of the game.
While the players are dribbling they are also trying to avoid being tagged, this forces them to keep their heads up and also teaches avoidance maneuvers. If a player is tagged they must stand in place while holding the ball over head and feet spread wide apart, they can only be freed by another player rolling their ball between the player’s legs. Every ten minutes or so the taggers should trade places so they become players and someone else is now a tagger.
Best Defensive Drills For Kids
The best offense is a good defense, these drills help improve players critical thinking skills.
This drill is done without a basketball. Have your players pair up into twos, one pair will go at a time or you can use half courts with another coach or parent guiding the other half. Each pair will then step up to the parallel lines of the key, the coach will decide who goes first as offensive and who is defensive.
The offensive player will move up and down the key line while the defensive player must match their every movement. The goal is for the offensive player to switch up his movements so that the defensive player can’t keep up. After about 15 seconds have the players switch roles and after another 15 seconds they can step aside while a new pair takes their place. This drill continues until each pair has practiced.
Best Footwork Drills For Kids
Footwork is important so that players don’t trip over their own feet or run each other over on the court, it also helps players avoid injury.
Red light Green light
This drill is intended to help with basic footwork for beginner players such as jump stops and pivots. Start will all players on the baseline in one straight line all facing the basket. When the coach yells ‘Go’ the players start dribbling at their own pace towards the basket, when the coach yells ‘Stop’ the players stop dribbling and perform a jump stop. Once players are comfortable with this you can add in pivots, now the three commands will be ‘Go’, stop, or pivot’ as the coach you can eventually add in the commands of ‘right pivot’ and ‘left pivot’ to improve footwork.
Four corners drill
This drill incorporates dribbling, footwork, and passing. As the coach set up a square playing in half the court by placing four cones equal distances apart with one cone in the middle. Split the players into four teams and half each team line up behind one of the four cones. There are four basketballs involved in this drill given to each of the first players in line.
When the coach says ‘go’ the 4 players start dribbling in toward the middle cone, at some point the coach will say ‘stop’ at which point the player will perform a jump stop, then pivot and pass to the next player in their line. Once the ball is passed the player will take their place at the end of the line, the drill does not continue until the coach once again yells ‘go’.
So there you have fifteen drills that you can use with your team, please note that these drills are effective even if you have no intention of competing in sporting events. Many of these drills were developed by coaches working with youth groups or at the YMCA or other boys and girls clubs. These drills can be applied as ways to get kids up and moving during recess or PE, but instead of doing boring exercises they can play a fun game drill.
There is also no reason why these drills cannot be used by both boys and girls to improve their overall playing. Basketball doesn’t only have to be about winning games it can also be a great way to exercise and build team work. Enjoy.