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Topic: Very Basic Youth Basketball DrillsQuestion:
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 4 basketballs for shooting. And I recommend and size 5 basketballs for 9 to 11 year olds.
Here's a chart that breaks down the various ball sizes:
|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 womens 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).
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
- 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
- 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!
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