At this age, you’ll probably be introducing basketball to kids for the first time. It is at this age that they will start to develop what will hopefully become a lifelong passion for the game. I’m a big fan of Basketball Canada’s Long-term athlete development model (LTAD) and this post is largely based on that model.
If there’s 1 thing to take away from this post, it’s to make practice FUN and ENCOURAGING.
Here’s a crazy statistic: 70% of children are dropping out of organized sports by the age of 13. The reason? It’s not fun anymore. The problem with quitting early is that you’ll never know if a kid will have a growth spurt later on and become a great player. Less kids participation also means a smaller pool of players to choose from for the next level and affects the quality of the national and professional teams.
I know, we coaches all have a competitive drive and want to win games, but at this level you have to let go of your ego. You need to accept that there’s a chance that nobody’s ever going to acknowledge that you’re a great coach because you can’t prove it with wins and accolades. What you do get is the satisfaction of seeing these kids growing in character and building up confidence, which in my opinion, is worth a lot more.
Here is a sample format:
- Warmup & Speed, Agility and Quickness drills 15 minutes
- Technical skills 20 minutes
- Small sided games 20 minutes
- Cool down and feedback 5 minutes
Keep reading to learn more about what specific pointers you need to take with you into practice- or click here to fast forward to 2 complete practice plan templates we’ve prepared for you.
Things to cover in order of importance
- Desire to have fun and interest in sports.
- ABC’s – agility, balance and coordination
- Ball sense and spatial awareness
- Shooting form
- Rules of the game. Concept of attack and defense.
- Basic team offense and defense concepts
Plan your practices
“I would spend almost as much time planning a practice as conducting it. Everything was planned out each day” – John Wooden
Legendary Coach John Wooden would write out his practices on index cards. You’ve only got your kids for an hour or so each day, so you need to make maximum use of that time. By planning, you prepare yourself for every practical eventuality- what if there aren’t enough balls/the kids find the drills too challenging/an assistant coach is sick? Even though you might be a volunteer, practice planning puts you right up there with the professionals in my book.
Once you’re not worried about what drill to run next, you can spend your time ENCOURAGING your players.
Pick your equipment carefully
- Use smaller balls
- Lower the rims
- Get as many baskets as possible
- 1 ball per person.
Strength is a key issue at this age. It is extremely difficult for kids at this age to shoot an adult sized basketball into a regular hoop. Just imagine yourself bouncing and shooting a 10lbs ball- as demonstrated by Bob Bigelow here, it’s tough!
Remember the physical and mental limitations at this age
Be conscious of how much strength and stamina kids have. For example, instead of dribbling standing up. You can ask them to get on 1 knee or sit on a chair to dribble. Always have different variations of difficulty of each drill for the varying levels of skills and strength.
General pointers for sticking to this: limit drills (short attention span), stick to 1 or 2 focuses (encourage passing above all), kids aren’t strong enough to shoot so don’t worry about it, teach basic motor skills over results.
Maximize time on task
Time on task is simply the time spent on actually doing something with the ball. Most practices have less than 50% of the time spent on actually moving or touching the ball as the coach is often talking and the players are standing in line watching. Preparing for practice can help increase the time spent on tasks by cutting down on explanation and transition time.
Maximise time on task by using games that require a ball per player, having lots of baskets to shoot at and playing 2 on 2 or 3 on 3 instead of 5 on 5 to maximize touches.
Don’t know where to begin? We’ve got 2 practice plans here for you to choose from.
For absolute beginners, we recommend using Coach Bob Bigelow’s practice plans. It’s difficult to play dribble tag when you’ve never touched a ball before. Coach Bigelow is an expert at kids basketball and he breaks down skills into kid friendly exercises such as rolling the ball on the floor to ball wraps around the body.
For kids that are starting to master the skills, we recommend Coach Brian McCormick’s game based practices. They’ll find the games fun and challenging, plus surprisingly easy to pick up, as they’re all based on games that they will already know, like tag or monkey in the middle.
Bob Bigelow 60-minute Beginner Passing and Finishing Practice Plan
|Ball Around Body Warmup||Ball control, coordination||5 min||The key is to get kids to lift their arms and their heads and not focus on the ball.|
|Spin, Catch, Jump Stop and Pivot Drill||Footwork||5 min||Young players travel all the time- keep a close eye on their foot movement after catching the ball.|
|Layup Drill with No Ball||Finishing, footwork||5 min||This drill teaches basic motor skills and should not be overlooked, especially if kids have never played basketball before.|
|Layup Drill Off Wall||Finishing, footwork||7 min||Kids will focus on their footwork, rather than makes or misses with this drill.|
|Layup Drill at Basket||Finishing||8 min||Make sure that your kids aren’t travelling or shooting with the wrong hand.|
|One Hand Wall Pass||Passing||7 min||Get your kids to find a spot on the wall and hit it consistently.|
|Square Passing||Passing, off ball movement||8 min||Once players master this drill mix it up with bounce passes and different movement.|
|3 on 3 Scrimmage||Passing, finishing, off ball movement||10 min||If you don’t have many courts get the waiting players involved by allowing them to receive and throw passes from the sideline, which will encourage more passing.|
Brian McCormick 75 min Intermediate Dribbling and Team Offense Practice Plan
|Rock, Paper, Scissors Tag||Warmup, conditioning||6 min||A game is a great way to start the session and get kids to burn off some energy.|
|Two Ball Together||Dribbling||2min||Kids need to pound each ball hard and below knee height.|
|Two Ball High Low||Dribbling||2 min||The low hand should dribble fast, the high hand dribbling hard|
|Two Ball Side to Side||Dribbling||2 min||The Practice Planner has more two ball drills available- mix and match these drills each week.|
|Protect the Dribble||Dribbling||3 min||This last drill is the most important and must be done every practice, teach your players to use their body to shield the ball.|
|Box Tag||Dribbling||5 min||Make it competitive by counting score between partners.|
|Tag Team Dribbling||Dribbling, on ball movement||10 min||Give players that are tagged a task before rejoining the game, like doing 20 crossovers.|
|Long Island Passing Drill||Passing, awareness, off ball movement||7 min||Add a ball for every 5 players in the game. This drill actually works better with more people.|
|Tag Ball Passing Drill with 3 Player Advantage||Passing, off ball movement||8 min||Tag is great! Kids already know how to play it and it gets them active and moving without the ball.|
|2 on 2 Rugby Drill||Passing, off ball movement||10 min||If you find that players are still over dribbling, add a rule to limit players to 3 dribbles.|
|3 on 3 Scrimmage||Passing, off ball movement, dribbling||15 min||Add rules, such as a minimum of 3 passes and a maximum of 3 dribbles to encourage players to use off ball movement effectively.|
Ball Around Body:
Spin, Catch, Jump Stop and Pivot Drill:
Layup drill with no ball:
Layup Drill Off Wall:
Layup Drill at Basket:
One Hand Wall Pass:
Rock Paper Scissors Tag
Two Ball Together
Two Ball Side to Side
Protect the Dribble
Tag Team Dribbling
Long Island Passing
Tag Ball Passing Drill
2 on 2 Rugby Drill
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