Here is a sample structure of a practice schedule for a youth team. Of course, this is just a sample and things would be different every day, but this
is a basic structure of how a practice may look.
Dynamic Warm Up & Athletic Work - 10 to 15 minutes
This is probably the #1 thing missing from most youth practices. It helps prevent injury, improves performance, and improve athletic ability. What good is a
basketball player who is injured or is not athletic enough to utilize the basketball skills developed? The better the player moves, the better
the player performs. Why not spend time on it?
There are a lot of players who have tremendous SKILLS, but lacked the ATHLETIC ability to make it to the next level.
Because it is the game of basketball, I do try to include a basketball in the warm up as much as possible. I am going to present two different dynamic warm ups.
If you are fortunate enough to have enough basketballs for everybody, we have a basketball-related warm up. For those of you who do not have very many basketballs, we include a warm up that does not require a basketball.
Teaching Skills and Using Fun Drills to Improve Skills - 30 to 45 minutes
The #1 reason kids quit sports is because it's not fun anymore. Youth coaches primary focus should be to teach skills and make it an enjoyable experience!
This isn't high school, college, or even PRO basketball, so don't treat your practices like it.
Try the skill-fun drill technique. This means that you teach a skill, then follow up that skill with a fun game or drill to work on the skill. It helps break
up the monotony of practice.
Drills & Games to Practice Offense and Defense - 15 to 25 minutes
End of Game Drill - 10 to 20 minutes
Cool down with Light Stretching - 5 minutes
Sample Practice Schedule
Dynamic Warm Up & Athletic Work - 15 minutes
Warmup #1 - With Basketball:
Stationary Ball Handling:
Around the World - 30 sec
Figure 8 - 30 sec
Behind-the-back dribble - 30 sec
Two Ball Dribble Crossover - 30 sec
Two Ball Front-to-Back Dribble - 30 sec
Full Court Ball handling: (Incorporate Lay Ups if you want)
This is just a sample practice. Not something I use everyday. Sometimes, I'll run a scrimmage with minimal stoppage.
However, if you look closer at the sample schedule, the last 35 minutes of the practice is basically a semi-controlled scrimmage to help teach the players. However, you don't want to stop practice for every little mistake to correct. Only the reoccurring mistakes.
Hello Joe, This is a great site! I live just outside of Toronto and I can't believe some of the stuff I see from coaches at tournaments for young kids. My son is 9 and a few weeks ago his coach actualy yelled at him for taking a jump shot from 10ft. It made him cry and when I heard about it from my wife I was furious. There is far too much emphasis on winning and not enough on skill development. You see the same players bringing up the ball time after time even though there is a half court rule on defense. Imagine at the age of 9 you are already telling 8 or 9 kids that we don't think you are good enough to handle the ball. That is pretty much the message when a kid is told to play the wing shift after shift and barely touches the ball during a game. Our system dictates that coaches go through a certification process before they can coach at the rep level but the problem is the coaches don't have accountability for their behaviour. It's no wonder kids quit and move on to other activities. Have agreat day! Terry
TL - 1 hour is tough to get everything in and with kids this age its even tougher because fundamentals are so important now. Make a weekly plan of what you need to work on and then separate them to daily tasks.
Terry - That coach should be laying brick somewhere and NOT working with young kids. Its his job to teach them HOW to play, teach fundamentals and especially at this age... for them to have FUN. Good luck, I hope you can find a better situation for your son.
thanks for your jenerouse .you help me for the drills what i need.i need the program for training to the players from 11 to 15 yearseold if this program yearly or seasenly ... i need it please and thanks for your interest
My name is Sabrina and this will be my second year coaching. I was an assistant coach for a high school boys team and a head coach for a boys middle school team. I am about to coach a rec team for 17 and under boys and I have a couple of questions. 1) When you warm up boys that age, is it necessary to go through ball handling drills like the ones listed above and if not what will be good exercises for them. 2) Because it is rec ball and there is no pre-season preparation is it important to include agility exercises within the practice and 3) what would be some good advice about coaching young men at that age level?
The reason for these questions are because I do not want my practices to seem elementary to my guys but at the same time I do not want to miss an opportunity to help develop certain players in all areas assuming that at this point its certain things they should already know.
I am coaching 8th grade girls basketball. Recently we had two scrimmages; we blew out the first, but lost to the second team. My girls revealed more confidence in effort in the first scrimmage, but looked defeated in the second one. After reviewing your plays and advice, I found some helpful tips for success in this coaching season, but I still feel as though im missing something. I feel like I dont have enough time to teach all that my girls need to know. What can I try to improve upon?
Sherrie - You will never feel like you have enough time to teach your players what they need to know. Coaches at all levels (youth to NBA) have that issue. It's just part of the job. That's why you need to constantly prioritize and focus on the critical things. I heard this quote from a Dell CEO once and it always resonated with me... "Focus on the critical few versus the trivial many". This was one of his keys to success.
Remember, these are just 8th graders and the most important things are to teach fundamentals, prepare them for high school basketball, prepare them for life (teach life lessons), set a good example, and have fun. Wins and losses don't indicate the success of your season. You won't be able to measure how successful your season was until years later and you see what type of impact you had on your players. So don't get too caught up in wins and losses. Good luck!
I am glad I found this site and appreciate your views to what should be taught at this age. I coach a 7th and 8th grade girls middle school team and find that the girls always respond better when I tell them to ignore the scoreboard and focus on the little successes during the game. Wins are good, but at this level it is seeing the smiles on their faces when they achieve the small goals we set for game regardless of the score.
Thanks again for this site and keep up the good work.
The problem with youth basketball is three things: 1.) The parent or guardian who has no idea what he's doing coaching his son and thinks his son should get all of the shots. 2.) The parent who has no idea what basketball is and thinks little johnny has to take every shot. 3.) No certified coaches who teach the fundamentals.
I am a 22 year old who wants to be a collegian coach after getting my degree. I have been coaching youth basketball for 6 years now and it always seems like one parent has to question what I do or complain about something. I have compiled a record of about 75-30 winning back to back county championships and an intermural championship as well......... thats not the point......... I have had about 10 of my players go on and start at the high school level, both Varsity and JV including 1 going on to play Division 1 next year. I teach nothing but the fundamentals and we spend ZERO time scrimmaging. We get about an hour and half a week so there is no time to scrimmage. I make it very fun for the kids running similar drills to the above article. The site is very helpful and please keep up the good work. Parents PLEASE let us do our job and keep all of your unhelpful comments to yourself!!!!!!
Hey, I am coaching a group of 11-12 year olds, but as I train them straight after school, we only get 45 minutes at best to practice. What are the most important drills to work. Also, I have three guys who are keen to learn post moves, yet as I play guard myself, I am ignorant to any particular moves other than the up-and-under. Can anyone help me with this? Thankyou for this, it will really help out our team who just want to get better, even with an 18-0 record.
Check out the link in the previous comment for some ideas on short practice times. I would spend most of my time on fundamentals in the context of my offense and defense. You can also work on offense and defense at the same time. For example, have one coach watch offense and the other watching defense. You could practice basket cuts and half court motion, while the defense if focusing on positioning, etc.
For fundamentals I would spend most time on ballhandling, footwork, and shooting. I would try to mult-task. For example, work on down screens (getting open and a piece of your offense), footwork, and shooting at the same time.
I have coached for 3 years before this one. All have been K-2 teams. Now I'm coaching 3rd-6th girls (the league was supposed to be 3-4 and 5-6, but not enough girls signed up). I'm curious if any of you have coached this big of an age gap before. If so, what were your approaches? Thanks!
I coached in a division for 4-6 grade last season and we also had 5 3rd graders play up with us for the experience of actual basketball as they were very ready. (the even ended up being better than some of the 4-5 grade girls).
In rec ball, the talent disparity is usually glaring and when you start to combine ages with this big of a gap the talent differences become even more apparent. Just work on fundamentals. Dribbling, various dribble moves, attacking the basket and one on one defense. If you stick with it, you'll see the girls getting better as the season goes on and hopefully all of your players will be contributing by season's end.
Because of the younger ages being involved, it might be a struggle to install any true offense, but you can definitely stress spacing and movement when your team has the ball. Other than that, I told our girls that their first option on offense was to try to score by themselves and if they couldn't do that, then they had teammates to look to for help. Because we spent a ton of time on individual offensive skill development, the girls actually began to trust one another as a team because they wouldn't worry about giving the ball to a teammate.
I liked to scrimmage 4 on 4. The first team to score 5 baskets wins. But each player on a team has to score 1 basket before anybody can score a second basket. It makes them work to get teammates open and stresses sharing the ball.
Great site! I was wondering if you have experience coaching young athletes with intellectual disabilities (e.g., Down Syndrome). Our (HS) team is looking to fully include a student with Down Syndrome. Although he will not be able to play in all game situations, we want him to feel like a full member of our practices. For example, what do you do if a drill is too complex, or the athlete lacks the stamina of the others? Do you or anyone else have some ideas for productive sideline work, or for helping out the coach? Any ideas appreciated. Thanks for a terrific coaching site!
Johnny - Sorry but I don't have any experience with that type of situation.
The only advice that comes to mind is that you praise and reward effort not skill. That is something we do anyway and is recommended for practices/games.
For example, you often hear coaches or players saying "nice move!!" when a talented player makes a great move. Well I try to avoid praising things like that when it's just because someone has talent. I might praise a player for trying a "new" move. But generally I look to praise a player that is working hard, showing enthusiasm, and great resilience -- whether it's a "nice move" or not.