Questions From Subscribers...

Topic:  Very Basic Youth Basketball Drills

We are teaching 7 and 8 yr. olds. Some of these kids can't even get the ball to the rim when shooting. Any suggestions on shooting technique to help with this? Most of the book seems to be geared toward a little bit older age group.

First of all, we're updating our Winning Drills eBook to include more drills for very young players. We're also reorganizing the drills so you can easily find drills by skill level. We'll let you know when that's ready for you to download.

In the meantime, here are a few things to try...

1) Use small basketballs and lower the baskets. One of the biggest reasons that so many older kids have such poor shooting skills is because they used basketballs that were too heavy when they were young. The heavy ball causes them to heave the ball and/or shoot from the hip -- instead of using proper form. If they shoot like this enough, like many kids do, they'll develop bad habits that stay with them for life

For 5 to 8 year olds, I recommend size 5 basketballs for 9 to 11 year olds.

Here's a chart that breaks down the various ball sizes:

Size     Circumference   Weight   Recommended For
Size 7 29.5” 22 oz Men and boys ages 15 and up. This is official size for high school, college, and the pros.
Size 6 28.5” 20 oz Boys ages 12-14. Girls and women ages 12 and up. This is the official size for women’s high school, college, and pro basketball.
Size 5 27.5” 17 oz Boys and girls ages 9-11 years old. This is the standard youth basketball you find in most stores.
Size 4 25.5” 14 oz Boys and girls ages 5-8 years old.
Size 3 22” 10 oz Boys and girls ages 4-8 years old. Also known as "mini" basketball.
Size 1 16” 8 oz Boys and girls ages 2-4 year olds. Also known as "micro-mini" basketball.
Nerf Toy 9-20” 1-5 oz Great for toddlers 0-4 years old. And fun for young hearted adults too!

Using the mini-ball will help your young players discover proper shooting form. It's impossible for kids that age to shoot properly with a bigger ball. It might seem a little silly using small basketballs like that, but trust me, your kids will have much better form when they get older.

You should also use lower hoops. Lower the rim to 6 or 7 feet for very young players and move up as they get stronger.

2) Try these youth drills for both shooting and skills development:

  • Form Shooting - Good shooting habits are the most important thing for young players to learn because so many kids have bad shooting form and it's the most difficult thing to fix when they get older.

  • Jump Stops - This is a critical drill for all youth players. It improves balance, footwork, reduces travels, and improves confidence.

  • Basic lay up drill (with left and right hand) - For the standard lay up drill, simply form two lines on each side of the basket about 20 feet back. One line rebounds, the other drives in with the ball and shoots. The rebounder passes to the next person in the shooting line and goes to the end of the shooting line. The shooter goes to the end of the rebounding line. After a few minutes, stop the drill and put the ball on the other side for left hand lay ups. Left hand lay ups will be nearly impossible for youngsters who have not tried them. But this is a critical skill to learn. It will take time and is a must by middle school. Be sure to show your players the correct form -- they should jump off the left leg when shooting a right hand lay up. And shoot off their right leg when shooting a left hand lay up. It will be difficult but work on it. They should also dribble with their left hand when shooting left hand lay ups.

  • Cone or Chair Dribbling - Simply set up some cones or chairs about 10 feet apart. Instruct your players to weave in and out of the cones, changing directions each time they reach a cone. They can start with a basic cross over, switching hands when they reach each cone. Then you can progress to spin moves and behind the back. This is a really simple yet fun drill that helps young players improve their dribbling skills.

  • Basic partner passing - Have your players partner up, each group should have a ball. Have them pass back and forth, starting with chest passes, progressing to bounce and over head passes. Make sure they are making accurate passes and using proper form. As a variation, you can have them run up and down the court passing back and forth.

  • Triple threat drills - Simply form two lines around the 3 point arc. One line is for passing line and the other is for catching, pivoting, and driving to the basket. Once the receiver catches the pass, they should pivot with their knees bent facing the basket. Require them to pause in a triple threat position. They should be ready to pass, shoot, or drive. Knees should be bent and feet square to the basket. Once you say go, they should drive to the basket.

  • Basic defensive slides - This is the first defensive concept youngsters should learn. They are a variety of sliding drills you can use. You can try the zig zag drill or some of the sliding drills listed below. Just be sure to focus on proper form (wide base, butt down, knees bent, arms extended to he side, etc).

You can also take a look at some of these youth drills from the Winning Drills ebook that you already have. Some of these drills will be things can work towards in the future and others you can do right now.

Very basic drills you can probably use now:
  • Partner Shooting - Page 18
  • King of the Court (dribbling) - Page 72
  • Four Corners Passing - Page 83
  • Machine Gun Passing - Page 88
  • Musical Slide (defense) - Page 95
  • Defensive Slide - Page 96
  • Lane Slides - page 98
More challenging youth drills you can work towards:
  • Half Moon Shooting - Page 6
  • Knock out (fun drill) - Page 16
  • Above ground - Page 26
  • 1-on-1 Rebounding - Page 33
  • The Rebound Game - Page 37
  • Post Moves - Page 50
  • Drop Step - Page 60
  • Jump Hook - Page 61
  • Round the Block - Page 62
  • Pass and Zigzag - Page 68
  • Dribble Relays - Page 70
  • Dribble Mania - Page 77
  • Partner Passing with 1 Defender - Page 86
  • Close Out - Page 105
Most of the drills above should help you with the important skills. But there are many other good drills out there. Just keep in mind, that if you can teach your young players the following skills, then you should feel good that about what you accomplished and know that you're teaching your player the right things (that they need to be successful)! Your young players should be able to:

- Dribble with their left and right hands equally well.
- Make lay ups with their left and right hands equally well -- and jump off the proper foot (left foot when shooting with right hand, and vice-versa)
- Perform a jump stop without traveling.
- Pivot on their left and right foot without traveling.
- Perform accurate chest, bounce, and overhead passes.
- Perform a defensive slide (feet wide, good balance, staying between the offensive player and the basket).

I know these accomplishments seem like they will take a while, but these simple skills should be your number priority and your goal should be to help your players master these skills.

Also, you can check out the Youth Basketball Coaching section of our site and our video with 50+ Youth Basketball Drills and Games.

Here are a couple other resources we think are good:

Coaching Basketball Successfully by Morgan Wooten - One of the best basketball coaching books ever written. We highly recommend it for all coaching levels.

Coaching Youth Basketball: A Baffled Parent's Guide - A great book for youth basketball coaches.

We don't have any affiliation with these products, we just think they are good.

Hope this helps!

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions then please leave your comments below.

Joe Haefner

Answers and Comments

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Bill says:
1/14/2007 at 6:52:41 PM

hi Joe:

Thanks ever so much,this is very helpful, sorry it took so long for me to get back to quick question.

How do you deal with handi cap players.The School my son attends as two students.The School only has 100 students,they only have (a one month window,)then the the big game and they are on to some other sport. These kids are in grade 5/6.To me its all about Fun. Any ideas as to how to make these special Children feel part of the team.
I don"t know what it is that Im looking for,any ideas as to what type of drills I can incorperate.

I know that the game is not importent,its having fun that counts. In my way of thinking, what ever the team learns, will be enough, as long as everyone feels they are part of the team.

Safe regards


Ben Goodwin says:
9/17/2007 at 7:25:50 PM

thanks this info is very interseting and eye opening and wil help me with my community studies in teaching young children the game of basketball.


itai kedar says:
9/18/2007 at 11:16:13 AM

i'm coaching children at the ages 4-6.
i found that it's very hard to do any kind of basketball drills with them. i'm looking for more fun activities which can be envolved with a basketball. all kind of games which the kids will be able to perform and produce skills that promote them towards basketball trainig in the near future.
i hope you can help me with some new ideas for sport activities for children at kindergarden.
thank you,


awan says:
10/5/2007 at 1:58:53 PM

can I ask something???training with small ball can highst the performance basketball junior atlets???thanks


Jeff Haefner says:
10/8/2007 at 2:29:41 PM


It's VERY IMPORTANT for all youth players to train with a small basketball. In fact, it's also a good idea to use a lower hoop. (ex: 7ft for 5 year olds, 8 ft for 7 year olds, 9 ft for 9 year olds).

This is because using a standard ball and hoop will ruin their shooting form. Young middle school and under kids, just don't have the strength to shoot properly.

And it's not just me that believes this. I've heard many high level coaches, even at the NBA level, say the same thing!

In fact, many top coaches believe youth teams should not allow:

- three pointers
- full court pressing
- full size balls
- and regulation height hoops

As a rule of thumb, if the player sacrifices form, then they should use a smaller ball or move closer to the basket.

Hope this answers your question.



JP says:
10/29/2008 at 5:58:10 AM

Thanks for all the useful info. One thing I am unclear on in reading this article- if the leage the kids play in use a junior size ball and an 8 ft it really adviseable to have them shoot with a mini ball on a lower goal? When game time comes...none of the kids will be able to sink a basket ;-)


Jeff Haefner says:
10/29/2008 at 7:14:45 AM


Good question. How you handle this depends on the age, strength, level of the kids, and your particulate situation. But you'll probably want to have both balls available in practice.

The point here is to have the youngsters get lots of reps and develop correct muscle memory. Using a big ball that's too heavy makes it difficult for young players to shoot with proper form, thus they develop muscle memory with the wrong form.

So the key is to get lots of reps using a small proper sized ball and really try to help them develop proper muscle memory.

You could practice form shooting with mini balls and let them scrimmage with the balls used in the league. But if your kids are strong enough to use the junior size ball at 8ft rims and shoot with proper form, use the junior ball.

Again, it really depends on the age and specific situation. There is no hard fast rule.

Hopefully this helps you figure out whats best. If you have any more questions, let us know.


JP says:
10/30/2008 at 3:33:04 PM


Thanks for the response. I can see your point. If you start out with a smaller ball you can get their form correct; then try to move up to a bigger ball.

From what I have observed so far, most of the kids can get it to the rim but very few are doing it with proper form.


Tim says:
12/10/2008 at 7:03:10 PM

I just started coaching 2nd garders. 3 of the 10 kids are consistently not listening and out of control. I have them sit after one warning (missing a turn in a drill) but nothing seems to work.

Any suggestions?


Joe Haefner says:
12/10/2008 at 7:13:04 PM


First of all, you are not alone! That is very common among kids at that age.

Second, don't punish them. It will only put a bad taste in their mouth which can turn them off towards basketball and even athletics which is the last thing you want to do.

What you can do to take care of this?

Kids have really short attention spans, so keep lecturing to a minute. Keep drills to 5 minutes or less. Keep things fun! Kids love competitive fun drills.

Two different methods that I've seen with great success:

1. If you need to kids to listen to you, you can assign kids a line. So if you have 12 kids, you might have 4 lines of 3. The kids go to the same line every time. On your whistle, see who can sit down and become quiet the quickest. Always reward the team that does it the fastest by giving them high fives or something. Be patient with kids jabbering. It's quite common. Every once in awhile give everybody a high five doing a great job. Be enthusiastic!

2. Clap Routine - Every time you blow the whistle, make a rule that the kids have to do the same number of claps as you. When you clap twice, they have to clap twice. Keep doing it until everybody claps and you have everybody's attention.

For more tips, visit our youth coaching section at:


Julie says:
1/8/2009 at 8:27:34 AM

Thanks for the good info. I just ended up as a helper on a team for 4 and 5 year-olds. I haven't played in years and was having trouble imagining my 5 year old capable of basic drills. We have small balls and low hoops so I plan to focus on basic dribbling, passing and shooting. And teamwork of course. What do you think about teaching defense? I can't see 4 year-olds doing more than remembering to run to the other end of the court.


Joe Haefner says:
1/8/2009 at 2:13:15 PM

Hi Julie,

I wouldn't worry about defense at that age level. It's hard enough to teach varsity players defense, yet 4 or 5 year olds. If you can get them to stand next to their man, that's an accomplishment. Personally, I wouldn't even worry about playing actualy full court games. I would just have stations and games that teach skills.

Something else that is very important to consider is to teach movement patterns such as running & stopping, hopping, jumping and landing, skipping, and so on. A lot of kids have not even learned how to move, yet. How can we expect them to run and dribble if they don't know how to run? How can we expect them to run, jump, and shoot a lay up, if they don't even know how to jump and land when stationary?


Laura Bush-Connor says:
1/30/2009 at 12:39:15 PM

Hi Joe and Jeff,

Thanks for the great website, it has been a lifesaver in creative drills for youngsters.

I am a volunteer parent-coach for my son's 1st/2nd grade rec league. This league does most of what you suggest for youth leagues. Less than 3 mos for whole season. Last year the Kindergarten/co-ed used the mini-ball/8ft rooms and this year they are using junior ball/8ft rim. The basic rules are man-to-man defense only, no pressing/trapping, defense only under the opponents basket and the games are 4-on-4 with two games going on at once(the full court is divided into two courts sideways). We had two one hour practices at the beginning of the season (third was cancelled due to snow) and then it is one game a week that is 20 minutes of practice followed with a game that consists of four 8-minute quarters(subbing at the 4-minute mark of each quarter) so we are done in one hour. No score is kept, no free throws.

I have a practice plan each week and keep each skill to work on to 5 minutes or less. I mainly work on shooting/form, dribbling/jump stop/pivot, defense, passing trying to combine skills together as possible due to time and attention spans.

During the games we are the referees, we rarely call fouls or stop the game too much, it really is just us reminding them when they pick up their dribble they can't dribble again- they must pass or shoot, when they are on defense to guard their person and not touch them, and then determing whose ball it is when it goes our of bounds.

Here is my question/problem. During the practice they do the skills fine for their age group but during the game they:
1. Tend to pass to an area not a person with an overhead pass and not a bounce or chest pass.
2. When they shoot they stop using correct form and start throwing it up and from too far of a distance from the rim.
3. We have three ball hogs who dribble/dribble/dribble, don't pass to others, and shoot when they shouldn't.

I don't want to coach too much because they are too young, I don't want to criticize the ball hogs too much so they are fearful to play, and the parents seem to happy when their children are making baskets instead of working on team basketball. At practice/time-outs I stress things they have done right and to remember we are a team and that everyone wants to participate.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!


Jeff Haefner says:
1/31/2009 at 9:26:24 AM

Hi Laura,

Sounds like your doing great with that team. To improve passing and teamwork, only one suggestion comes to mind. It's a simple suggestion but pretty effective.

Give LOTS of praise for players that pass the ball and show great teamwork.

You're right, these kids are young and just be happy they can dribble.

To change behavior in young kids, the experts suggest the 2 in 1 rule. For every one disciplinary action, you should give two positive reinforcements.

Praise and positive reinforcement is a great way to change behavior. In addition, giving occasional instruction to your ball hogs won't hurt them. Just provide instruction and don't correct to often. I think you're on the right track.

Also, use the sandwich technique and follow instructions up by praise/positive reinforcements. I think if your players hear you talk about passing and teamwork enough, they will eventually start catching on. It might take months or years, but it will happen eventually.

Don't worry to much about bad shooting and passing in games. Game slippage is normal. Practice is where you fix that stuff. All you can do at this age is get LOTS of repetitions of the correct form and fundamentals in practice. Eventually, with enough practice, muscle memory will take over and it will carry over into games. It will take a while.


Joe Haefner says:
1/31/2009 at 9:27:44 AM

Hi Laura,

Personally, I don't even think those are not problems for that age group. All 1st and 2nd graders do that. I would be less-concerned with the game and just try to teach them. It sounds like you're doing great job of that.

A lot of kids are ball-hogs because they don't understand "TEAM" concepts and they won't for awhile. Doesn't mean you can't try teach it, though.

They also do that, because they have not perfected their ball handling skills. When you are not comfortable with a skill, your vision narrows. Think of when you're working on something and you're really into it. You probably don't notice anything around you. The same thing happens when a kid dribbles a basketball or receives a pass.

Just keep teaching the fundamentals and you'll be fine.


MS says:
11/24/2009 at 10:36:44 AM

Coaching 1/2 graders - alos, shooting form - play with 27" ball and 8Ft rims. I iwll incorporate the mini-Balls, good suggestions at practice.

However, w/ the 27" balls, is it OK at this age to allow them to shot 2 handed to the rim, sort fo like an old fashion chest shot. Most are not strong enough for the standard form. But I do stress wrist follow thru on all shots.

All help is appreciated...


Betsey Mary says:
12/9/2009 at 10:29:07 AM


I coach a developmental 5th and 6th grade boys team. The League Rules say nothing about ball size. I've been using the smaller 28.5" ball to practice. We had our first two games this past weekend, and the coaches of the home teams insisted that we use the full size ball. My boys are very developmental in their skills, and they are small (two are only about 50 lbs.). Can you give me any good information that I can use to go back to the League Director and lobby for the use of the smaller ball, which I strongly feel is more developmentally appropriate for them at this time?


Betsey Mary


ali says:
12/29/2009 at 12:38:03 AM

Hi Joe,
Can a purchase your 60 Fun drills&games for yoth coaches by mail. My computer isn''''''''t letting me download. Please help.


Joe Haefner says:
1/7/2010 at 10:45:22 AM


This is something I picked up from Bob Bigelow. Typically, 5th & 6th grade boys are very strong or coordinated yet. 50lbs is about a 1/4 of the size of most male adults. So, go find a 4 to 8 pound bouncy medicine ball and ask the coaches to play with it. They'll quickly see that they can't shoot with that size of ball. Well, that's what it feels like for 5th & 6th graders to shoot with a men's ball. How are they supposed to get keep good form then?


Jason says:
3/5/2010 at 1:47:47 PM

I run a youth program with 4 and 5 year olds. The program runs for 12 weeks and we are at week 8 and I feel like I have exhausted all of our drills and activities. We have worked passing and shooting, catch and shoot etc. Dribbling and dribbling while moving. Many of the kids have trouble reaching the much lowered hoops and we use the smallest balls possible. With the kids so much in trouble what can I do to keep things fresh for them, and maybe more importantly make their parents feel as if they are really learning basketball fundamentals.
Any help would be greatly appreciated


Joe Haefner says:
3/5/2010 at 4:22:20 PM


With that age group, I bet you feel like you're trying to herd cattle more than teach basketball. If they are learning anything, that would be a plus, so I'm sure are doing fine.

To be honest, I don't even like to teach basketball to players under the age of 8. They are not physically and mentally ready to do so. Read this article, I think it will help give you perspective on where I'm coming from.


Jessie says:
6/11/2010 at 6:55:08 PM

Hi Im running a basketball program with physically and mentally handicapped children. Most of them are pretty good and can do regular drills but I have to keep it really fun in order to keep their attention. I have some games like red light green light, simon says, and follow the leader. Do you have any other suggestions? Games or drills? Thanks!


shaquille says:
7/13/2010 at 5:39:31 PM

hi im a basketball palyer with great skill problem is were i live i wont ever get noticed i 5'9 and a shooting guard my gpa is 3.00 im very skilled but i live in nassua in the bahamas no scouts come here which means they never see me i want to get recruited for college im in grade 11 i have 2 mre yrs...what can i do...should i make a video who can i send it to..who can i talk to...plzz plzz answer this question becauase i really need help this i what i want to do im a great shooter and fast so im good at getting inside and finishing specially on taller defenders..

any help would be really appreciated thnx


Jeff Haefner says:
7/13/2010 at 9:08:42 PM

Here are a few links with advice on getting recruiting:


shaquille says:
7/15/2010 at 10:47:32 AM

hi me again u no already im from the bahamas so i want to know which aau camp would be best for me to go to and closest and how much would it cost every summer i usually go to tennesee for like 3 monthes and stay with my auntie for vacation or somtoimes i go to miami im 15.what do ou think


Bruce says:
9/23/2010 at 1:02:25 PM

My seven year-old son will be playing in two basketball leagues. The first uses a 27.5 inch ball. The second, which begins practice while the first league has games, uses a 25 inch ball. Which ball should he practice with at home? My feeling is that it would be better to practice with the smaller ball, but does it matter?


Joe Haefner says:
9/24/2010 at 8:48:39 AM

Bruce, my preference is the smaller ball because it allows for shooting form, because it is lighter and the size is more proportional the size of the kid.


Professional Sports Fan says:
12/12/2010 at 11:39:22 PM

Aside from the drills I listed above, one of the things that younger players struggle with are the between-the-legs move and the spin move.


Sport's dad says:
1/5/2011 at 8:31:05 PM

My son is 7 and playing basketball for the first time. The team uses a 10ft basket and he is one of the only kids who can't even make the rim. We've been practicing several nights a week, but it's not helping.

Anything you can suggest for drills to help him improve the height of his shot? I'm afraid he's getting discouraged.


Jeff Haefner says:
1/6/2011 at 7:40:37 AM

Sports' dad -

This might be what you want to hear, but I would find a different league that understands the development process of young kids. Those kids should be shooting at 7 or 8 foot rims, 90% of the drills should be on balllhandling and footwork, everything should be fun, they should plays lots of small side games, have opportunity for self discovery, work on coordination/balance, kids should be put in a position to succeed, etc.

We have lots of great resources for youth coaches to practice the right things and better understand the development process of youth players.

Maybe we should write an article about how to choose a youth league/coach based on age level. We'll think about adding that to the site at some point.


Jeff Haefner says:
1/6/2011 at 11:02:09 AM

Here's a good conversation about the subject of youth leagues and how they should play:


matt says:
1/10/2011 at 10:36:01 PM

i started volunteering at the Y when my son started playing, hes 4yrs old. the rims only go down to 8ft. and im supposed to be teaching the kids how to shoot jump shots. the problem is only about 5-6 of the (25) kids can get the ball to the rim. how do i help? should i be teaching them the real fundamental way to shoot, or just get them to push the ball up there?


Joe Haefner says:
1/11/2011 at 8:24:24 AM

Matt, I question putting any child in a basketball program before the age of 8, I could even argue 10. Kids are not strong enough and coordinated enough to play basketball.

Here is an article on the topic:

They'll gain more from an athletic development standpoint from playing tag, hopscotch, and other fun games in the backyard with the neighborhood kids. Organized sports that are great for athletic development are soccer, gymnastics, swimming, martial arts, and flag football. This will help you develop a well-rounded athlete.

I've struggled teaching shooting form to 8 year olds, so I couldn't imagine trying to teach a 4 year old. With youth teams that I coach, I don't even both spending more than 5 minutes on shooting form below the age of 12, because the time is much better spent on skills that they will get better at such as footwork, ball handling, passing, and defense. When they're physically ready, I start to do more shooting and put an emphasis on that.

Also, from a development standpoint, it's hard for kids under the age of 9 to take much technical instruction. It's more of a show and go type learning atmosphere. They'll make tons of mistakes, but that's alright.


Jeff says:
1/11/2011 at 9:01:27 AM

Yep, at the 4-7 age you just work on dribbling, passing, footwork, and athletic development games (balance, coordination, motor skills, etc).

There are tons of fun activities you can do that don't require shooting so you can keep them busy.

My daughter is almost 6 and I can't imagine teaching her to shoot with a regular ball. My son is almost 4. He shoots with a little ball at a plastic basket down stairs. Amazingly he shoots with almost perfect form. I don't know how. I have never taught him a thing. I'm sure he's seen me shoot but he's not really around basketball that much. I think it's just because he saw me or someone else shoot, and all he had was a 1 once super lite 4 inch ball and a 4 ft rim to shoot at. Then he just figured it out on his own. The only thing I would fix is his squared stance (LOL). He does actually have a perfectly squared stance, which I don't like. But the kid is accurate. I might never have to teach him one thing about shooting. We'll see.

My daughter on the other hand (almost 6) shoots horrible (it's basically an over the head soccer pass). I never work with them really. Just if they ask. Well my son kicked her butt in a shooting game so she asked me to show her how to shoot. She is pretty good at taking instruction for a young kid so I showed her how to shoot with one hand. Then I just let her go and experiment. It definitely helped.

Now keep in mind, all this is with a 1 once super lite 4 inch bouncy ball at a 4ft (maybe 5ft) plastic basket in the basement. I don't even know what the ball is made of. Rubber or something. It's not a real ball. But it's super light so they have a chance to actually shoot properly and let their own instincts and self discovery take over. For the most part I don't show they anything. I just provide them the proper environment and let them play and adapt.

Bottom line. No way you can teach shooting at that age of even for several years. So don't worry.


Keith says:
1/28/2011 at 8:27:26 AM

I want to know what kind of drills can I use to work with 5 and 6 yr old kids to keep there attention? So that they can learn the basics but have fun and love doing it.


Joe Haefner says:
1/30/2011 at 10:39:22 AM

Keith, there are some tips in this article:

Also, they are 5 & 6 year olds. Attention spans aren't very good yet. They are forming so many new neural circuits through their new experiences that it's very difficult for them to pay attention.

Also, if my kid were 5 or 6 and I were to put them in anything, it would be martial arts, gymnastics, soccer, and swimming. And I'd create tons of obstacle courses and fun games of tag to play at home. 5 & 6 year olds are not developmentally ready for basketball. 8 & 9 year olds are hardly ready. They certainly aren't ready for a 10 foot hoop.

Here is another article you can check out:


jordan says:
6/9/2011 at 7:12:33 PM

hi my sons or 4 and 6 and my 6 year old can shot on 10 foot goal with youth size ball and mboth have good ball handling and perform adult drills do you think i should keep training them myself doing those drills or let them join league play or wait til they become older here some links of videos of them working out.


Jeff Haefner says:
6/15/2011 at 2:36:53 PM

I would not keep training them like that. I think the two ball dribbling and fun stuff is great. Let them develop coordination and have fun. But I would not "train" kids this age and the reasons are real simple and profound.

I would put my kids in soccer, gymnastics, swimming, flag football, and martial arts so they have fun and develop balance, athleticism, coordination and all the things they need when they get older. And more importantly, it's helps them mentally.

Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitski and many other players didn't play basketball until they were 13. But they played lots of athletic sports early on. In my opinion we just saw Dirk Nowitski (who didn't start playing until he was 13) beat Lebron James who is far more talented and athletic. Lebron is the most talented player I have ever seen. But everyone has been telling Lebron he was great and the chosen one since he was 10. Frankly you can tell based on his mental weakness. Dirk is mentally tougher and performs better and has squeezed more out of his abilities. He was worked his butt off later in childhood trying to catch everyone. I personally don't want my own kids dominant at a young age because then they have nothing to work towards. Plus they can burn out and tons of other things.

These are a few of many reasons I think you develop young kids athletically and mentally by putting them in lots of sports and environments where they can develop. Not to mention setting a great example as a parent teaches toughness, work ethic, and perseverance.

I just think you should not get real sport specific or aggressive at a young age. Why teach them to shoot now? Kids shouldn't shoot seriously until they hit puberty. If you want them to become great bball player send me an email and I'll give you a link to a free ebook that explains how to develop great ball players. Sport specific training at a young age is not the way to do it.

Hopefully that makes sense and helps.


Carmen says:
9/2/2011 at 11:26:10 AM

My question is does it hurt a 14 year girls shot if she practices with boys ans uses the larger size ball. Thank you Carmen


Jeff says:
9/6/2011 at 10:47:29 AM

If it were me I'd spend most of my time practicing with the actual ball I will use in games.


Nick says:
10/26/2011 at 10:08:46 PM

Hey Jeff, I'm senior this year and I chose to help out at my local Community Center K-2nd basketball program for my senior project. Could you give me some ideas for drills? (I need enough drills to cover a hour and a half class.)


Jeff Haefner says:
10/27/2011 at 2:01:25 PM


The drills you choose depend on how many players you have, # of balls, and # baskets. Beyond that, do lots of fun dribbling, basic footwork, balance, and some passing. Keep them busy, lots of fast paced stuff, running around, tag, playing games. We have tons of drills all over this site:


TJ says:
12/7/2011 at 10:58:36 AM

Hi Jeff
I am coaching my daughters 2nd grade basketball team. This is all the girls first year playing. When I run drills at practice they all do a great job. But when we start practicing playing full court like they will play in a game the girls go wild. They just run and dribble and mostly turn it over. My questions are: How do I get them to slow down? Do I teach them positions? Should I teach them plays on offense? I really don't know what to do to get them ready for offense in a game. Defense they seem to do pretty good. Thank you s for the help


Ken Sartini says:
12/7/2011 at 1:50:24 PM


I have seen this happen with older kids so don't get to discouraged.... they are young and really don't understand the game... so be patient, relax and let them have some fun.

Don't even worry about the Ws... they are in 2nd grade... try to teach them some very basic things... passing and catching the ball .... dribbling .. spacing on offense.

You might try some NO dribble games in practice - try to keep everything you do in drill work very short .. like 5 minutes tops.

I cant even imagine how it would be to teach kids of this age, so God Bless you for taking this on, GOOD LUCK


jake carroll says:
2/18/2012 at 2:51:04 PM

I have been trying to teach a nine year old to jump for the rebound but hes being to stubborn and won't listen. In his games it looks like he has bricks in his shoes. Any drills for 2 people to work on rebounding like in the driveway.


Ken says:
2/18/2012 at 3:50:25 PM

Jake -
You answered your own question, he's 9.... maybe hes not in love with the game as much as you are??

You are going to have to find some FUN stuff for him to get him interested in rebounding and jumping.

Find out what his hot button is and use it to your advantage.... ice cream, pizza, hot dogs, time on the computer etc. ?? Get X number of rebounds in your games and you get Y - you can always up the ante if the goal you have set is too easy... but for awhile, I would make it very attainable... so he can see the success.

Once you get away from the games... you might not bring things up unless he does... keep the father an son relationship a good one, whether you are coaching his team or not.

Good luck and remember to keep this fun.


K.G. says:
2/27/2012 at 12:25:52 PM


Which is the maximum height for a child that plays 8under basketball league, if there's any rules?



Turner says:
12/10/2012 at 2:34:15 PM

Hi. I am coaching my daughters kindergaten team this year. My very first time coaching.
When it comes to the drills and fun games i feel good about doing those. the kids seem to have fun.
But when it comes to playing a game i am totally lost. our first practice was last week and i was having them get ready to play a practice game and (i really don't know much about basketball) I don't know the positions and where they stand.
they play 5 on 5.
the majority of the kids are age 5. At that age to you stress positions?

Thanks for your time.


Ken says:
12/10/2012 at 8:58:05 PM

What a tough age to teach them this game... keep it as simple as you can. Teach them a few fundamentals, spread the floor, have them pass and cut.... and above all.... make sure they have fun.

Don't expect too much here.... its hard for them to handle a ball let alone shoot it.... and concentration? Forget it.


Jeff Haefner says:
12/12/2012 at 1:09:27 PM

As far as assigning positions, you don't want to do that. Here's an article about that topic:

At that age, things will be a mess playing 5on5. Personally I only have kids play 3on3 until around age 9 or so. Our offense rules are...

1. Spread out
2. If you're not open, basket cut or screen
3. If you pass, basket cut or screen
4. Call out screens

For 5 year olds, I'd be pretty happy if they could spread out and basket cut. Not if sure I'd try to teach that. Just teach skills and have LOTS of fun.


that 3 point shooter says:
6/7/2013 at 5:52:38 PM

Will shooting on 9 and a half feet hurt my shooting on ten foot?


Ken Sartini says:
6/8/2013 at 12:35:20 PM

I can remember messing around on 8 foot baskets so we could dunk and take some easy shots.... didn't hurt my shot.... I would think that IF you go out and practice on the 10 foot basket, your shot would come back quickly.

This could depend on how much you are shooting on that basket too. How often do you shoot on that one?


dan rodriguez says:
10/14/2013 at 12:08:32 AM

Hi...I am currently 5''9 139pounds and am a shooting guard for my high school team. And as u know in high school the kids are bigger and the games faster. My coach wants me to shoot over head (the way the profesionals do it) and I''m fine with it..I''m perfect from mid range but I have problem getting the ball to the hoop for three pointers. I''ve tyed lifting weights to strengthen my arms but It doesn''t seem to work. What should I do?

  1 reply  

Shawn McClurg says:
12/7/2015 at 9:14:55 PM

Try working on your vertical. Not only does it increase your range, but it prevents most players from blocking your shots. Also, always remember to keep practicing.


Ken Sartini says:
10/14/2013 at 9:22:00 AM

Check these pages out ...

As for coming up short on 3 pointers, try stepping into your shot and getting a little more lift from your legs. Hope this helps.


Emmanuel Ochago says:
10/19/2013 at 2:31:05 AM

i am a basketball coach at Lugulu High School and my team has a problem when it comes to setting screens and also defending screens.What are the simple drills for teaching basic screening and rolling?


Ken Sartini says:
10/19/2013 at 10:53:57 AM

Coach -

Lets talk about setting screens first ...... there are a couple of philosophies regarding this.. Some will say go to a spot and then the person that is receiving the screen is responsible for utilizing it. As for myself... we were kind of head hunters - meaning that we wanted our players that were setting the screen to make sure that he got a piece of the defender.

So, to get the best of both worlds lets start with the screener..... we wanted him to find the guy he was screening and raise his fist as he went to set the screen trying to find the path the defender was going to take --under the screen or chase.

The player accepting the screen HAS to set his man up by making a good V cut and then coming off his player that is setting the screen.... go right off his shoulder, slight contact. You can have him put his chin down on his shoulder to see where the defender is going.... IF he is chasing, then I will curl - IF he is going under I would fade.

You can set up the drill by having someone defending the player receiving the screen.....( on the wing ) another player setting the screen and another passing (both around the top of the key)

I hope this is clear for you.

( guess I was doing something right :-) ) ***** This seems like the easiest to understand and you can show this to your kids *****

And one more -

I hope this helps, let us know what you think.


Ricky Wilson says:
12/11/2015 at 10:36:49 PM

Thank you Joe this is very helpful information. Its my first time coaching basketball. And the age group is 5 thr7. So were all learning.


Ellen says:
4/12/2016 at 3:15:31 PM

These coaching tips and tricks are great. Thank you for posting.


Nerf Herder says:
5/17/2016 at 5:12:39 PM

Is it OK if a 5 year old has a bigger basketball? And also should I be teaching him layups? His form is perfect, I''ve been working in that with him and he is progressing. I''m using words of encouragement and tell him good job every few shots. I''m no coach and I''m only teaching him the basics like jump when you shoot and use form and also I''m teaching him not to bring it over his head. Is this good enough training or is it to much for a 5 year old?

  1 reply  

Jeff says:
5/18/2016 at 4:05:46 PM

At this age I encourage very small and light basketball because i have never seen a young kids strong enough to shoot with proper form.

Beyond that lots of dribbling, passing, catching, and playing multiple sports to develop athletically is the best thing for him. First step is develop coordination, balance, athleticism, and a love for the game. It's ok to work with them but those 4 things are priority. Steve Nash didn't start basketball until he was 13... so he has plenty of time and keep things fun!


Ashley says:
2/20/2017 at 12:37:08 AM

My 8 yr old daughter is playing her 2nd yr on a tournament ball team whose coach has just now made it clear that she wants a 'play to win' team instead of a 'play to learn' team. The issue I'm having is the coaches are teaching these 8 yr old girls screen plays & very few are understanding &/or performing them correctly, but the coaches are deciding who plays based on their ability to remember & run them. But unfortunately our team has a very mediocre passing game.

Do you feel these types of plays are too advanced for this age group? What kind of plays are within their age mentality?

  1 reply  

Jeff Haefner says:
2/20/2017 at 2:24:56 PM

Without seeing the plays, it's hard to say. With our youth teams, we don't run plays. We just teach them basic spacing and cutting concepts to start. Then let them run motion. As we go, we add screening to our motion. But that is usually 4th-7th grade range

The biggest issue I have with "plays" is the practice time required for players to learn and memorize them. I would much rather have my kid practice skills like dribbling, passing, pivoting, agility, etc... things that will help them no matter what coach they play for in the future. If learning the play is taking much time from skill development, then I would say they are too advanced and not a good use of time.


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