Youth Basketball Shooting: 3 Things Youth Coaches & Players Need to Adjust

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Difference #1 - Don't Let Them Chuck The Ball

When working with young players, always use a lower rim. ALL experts agree that it's a huge mistake to use a 10 ft. rim. In most cases, an 8 ft. or 9 ft. rim is the way to go.

The biggest problem with kids today is that they use a full-sized ball, 10 ft. rim, and they have to "chuck it" to get the ball there.

This is where many players establish wrong habits in their basketball shooting form. These habits often linger and hamper players well after they are strong enough and big enough to shoot properly at a ten foot hoop.

You'll often find players that "chuck" the ball frequently miss to the left and right.

Getting rid of these habits takes a lot of time and effort, much more than is needed to establish correct habits in the first place.

So our advice is simple...

  • Use 8 FT. Rims For Kids That Are 8 Years Old and Under.

  • Use 9 FT. Rims For 9 to 11 Year Olds.

  • Use Regulation Rims for 12 Years Old and Up.

We also suggest that you use smaller basketballs. For kids 5-8 years old you can use size 5 ball until they get to high school.

Difference #2 - Don't Go Too Fast and Ease Into Difficult Skills

Some of the skills in shooting workouts will be too difficult. In fact, young players should spend A LOT of time just on form shooting and shooting away from the basket.

Players develop shooting habits at an early age, so you need to start with basic form shooting. If they get really good, you can start moving into shots off the dribble and so on.

Just to give you an idea, here's the progression for a young player:

Move onto the next progression when the player is VERY comfortable with each previous skill.

  1. Form shooting with one hand (away from the basket)
  2. Form shooting with two hands (away from the basket)
  3. Form shooting with one hand (a few feet from the basket)
  4. Form shooting with two hands (a few feet from the basket)
  5. Catch and shoot up to 10 feet from the basket
  6. Catch, pivot, and shoot up to 10 feet from the basket
  7. Dribble, pivot, and shoot (both hands)

You'll obviously need to go at a slower pace with young kids.

Difference #3 - Persistence, Persistence, Persistence

When it comes to teaching youth players, you are going to have to constantly adjust their shots.

The trap that most youth coaches fall into is that you fix a kid's shot once, twice, three, four times, and by the fifth time, you let the kid start shooting with their old, bad habits. That's where you need to remain persistent and keep adjusting their shots. It could take hundreds and thousands of corrections before the player finally gets it.

Don't get frustrated or mad. It's just a process that takes time and have some fun with it!

It's also very rewarding when you see the kid nailing shot after shot at the varsity level a few years down the road.

Basketball Shooting Instructional Video

If you are interested, we also have a basketball shooting instructional video that goes into great detail about the art of shooting and much more.


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Basketball167 says:
12/26/2020 at 11:12:30 PM

Hi, I am 14 years old and I play on my high school basketball team and I need help shooting. Sometimes I make really good shots and I can shoot but I tend to shoot two-handed alot. Do you have any suggestions on how to break this habit?
Thank you!

  1 reply  

Nathaniel Thomas says:
1/24/2021 at 11:51:08 PM

Hello, as a former middle school player in my junior year I can say that you need to workout, run, and work on your vertical for now. After a month of doing that create a form thats comfortable and smooth, have good arc and power with your shot. Also, be confident do let anything get to you, you are still growing and maturing. Hope this helps.


DeanF27 says:
2/27/2020 at 7:16:21 PM

Hi there,

I would like to know how to teach young kids to create a shot when a defender is facing them. At the beginners' level, it seems that one of the most difficult aspect of learning how to shoot is how to do it when someone is facing you.
Does this need to be taught separately?
Do young players naturally increase their confidence with shooting/creating a shot when someone is in front of them as they practice form shooting or shooting in general?
Are there drills you can think of to teach that particular skill?

Thank you!


  1 reply  

Jeff Jeff says:
2/28/2020 at 6:52:02 AM

Dean - We general categorize drills into these categories... block, random, interleaving, and game based. Every type of drill has it's own use. Think of each type as a different tool in your toolbox. You choose the appropriate tool at the appropriate time to solve the problem. On some days, you'll use all your tools at different times and in different orders.

Young players first start with catch and shoot mechanics. You primarily use block shooting drills to learn proper mechanics:

Once they develop good mechanics they can repeat consistently, you can start adding random, interleaving, and/or game based drills.

So we have one skill (catch and shoot without movement). And you have many drills to choose from to develop that skill. Adding a hand in the face or dummy defenders is a way to help develop that skill and get players comfortable with a defender close by.

The next skill is basic footwork on the move (the 1-2 step and the hop). Again, you have many drills to choose from to develop that skill. You pick the drills (tools from your toolbox) to develop the base mechanics, then make it more random, speed things up, and eventually you add defenders.

Next is the pull up jump shot. Take 1 or more dribbles and shoot a jumper. Lot of drills to choose from for this. Start with block drills and eventually move to game based.

For young players, we stop there... shooting off catch, shooting on the move, shooting off the dribble. We don't add advanced moves to create shot (like step back, etc) until they master those fundamental aspects. And those basic skills take years to master.

So the decision making is simple... if you're open you shoot. If you're not open and there's space to drive into for a lay up or jumper, you can drive. If you're not open and the defense is in good help position, you pass the ball. Here's a very simple drill to start learning that decision making process:

This page has all types of drills (with and without defense to help with decision making and getting used to shooting with a defender closing out on you):

  1 reply  

DeanF27 says:
2/29/2020 at 12:30:05 AM

Thank you so much for such a quick and thorough answer! Your explanations and suggestions are great. The progression makes total sense.

Thank you


Carrie says:
1/26/2019 at 10:17:20 AM

I am a first year coach of 6 grade girls. The majority have never played basketball before. In just a couple of weeks, they are making amazing improvement, but there are several girls (one big physical post player) that cannot shoot a free throw - as in cannot get the ball to the hoop. They use a 28.5 ball and 10ft hoop. This is dictated by the league they play in. The post in particular can get the ball there if she really jumps, but then ends up over the line. We talk about using our legs, follow-through, etc. Any suggestions for helping them develop this skill? Thanks.


Eddie childers says:
1/22/2019 at 9:27:37 AM

How do you get around a league that makes 7-8 year olds shoot on 10 ft goal and standard 29.5 ball ???


Sean says:
12/28/2017 at 10:30:22 AM

Another thing to do for your kid, is to have them build upper body strength, kids who have no upper body strength cant shoot the ball far, and look for alternatives, like finding a lower release point, and shooting with 2 hands.


Vince says:
3/16/2017 at 9:25:24 AM

how big is the Square painted on the back board of a basket ball hoop

  1 reply  

John says:
12/3/2019 at 6:06:11 PM

24 in. wide, and 18 in. tall


Mike j butler says:
6/8/2016 at 11:08:35 AM

Im only 14 coach says i got handles and everything i play AAU i just need to work on my shot any suggestions?


Michael says:
1/11/2016 at 8:03:29 AM

I am a volunteer coach for kindys. It's a recreational league. The schedule consists of 2 1-hour practices and 7 games.

Most of the kids on the team are capable of shooting a basketball around rim height (8 ft) with the junior size basketball.

There is one player that is not getting any elevation of their shot. (We had our 1st practice last weekend). I tried using a shorter rim and having them jump while shooting. I even tried overhead shooting. (I know it's not proper form, but that's how my son 1st learned to shoot...)

Anyway, I have a question. At our next full practice, I'm planning on giving the player lots of individualized helpinstruction. Any suggestions to help the player get height. When they shoot, the ball just falls down...

  1 reply  

Jeff Haefner says:
1/12/2016 at 2:50:17 PM

For kindergarten players, I try to avoid shooting... work on things they can do with some success... dribbling, passing, and basic footwork. They are just too young and small. I even avoid shooting with 2nd and 3rd graders as it's pretty tough to get them to shoot with proper form.

If we do any shooting with kids 3rd grade and under, it's away from the basket... shooting to the wall, a partner, or a spot on the floor. Just focusing on good technique with a small basketball. So my suggestion it to practice shooting away from the basket and play other fun games that include passing and dribbling (dribble races, keep away passing games, etc... kids love it and improve skill).


S Hartfield says:
12/15/2015 at 6:54:19 PM

I coach that same age group, this is their 3rd season and the change in them is incredible. You can totally tell a difference in them against their peers who probably do not receive coaching and just play. We work extensively on dribbling and not traveling, passing and catching, where to stand on offense, they run an effective 2-3 zone and even know 2 inbounds plays. Our last game we won 36-0. Our first practice none of them could reach an 8ft rim! Its incredible


CGR says:
11/3/2014 at 9:40:10 AM

Ron is right! For my really young kids (5, 6, 7), I use a hula hoop. First against a wall, I hold it. If the kid shoots 'from the forehead' (a simple concept they understand) they usually get the basket. But if they push or underhand, I tilt the hula hoop away so the ball won't go in.

Same with nets, I'll hang a hula hoop off of it, get the kids to approach, and tilt it away if the push or go underhand.

To keep the kids motivated and encouraged, especially young first-timers, you can move the hula hoop to make sure kids who get the technique get the baskets. I've found that younger ones, once they understand that, get right into the 7-foot rims and shoot 'properly' pretty consistently.


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