Questions From Subscribers...

Topic:  Basic Youth Basketball Drills for 7, 8, 9 Year Old Boys

I like a lot of the drills but my team is a group of 7,8,9 year old little boys.I have used a couple of the drills but most of them are to hard. If you ever make a youth book please let me know.

First of all, you can check out these drills for very young players. The drills are now organized so you can easily find them by skill topic.

Next, we released a video called Bob Bigelow's Coaching Youth Basketball The Right Way. You should definitely check that out. It has a lot of great youth drills and coaching tips.

In addition, here are a few drills that are very important for young basketball players...

  • 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.

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).

These simple skills should be your number priority and your goal should be to help your players master these skills.

Also, here are a couple resource 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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Jerry says:
6/12/2018 at 2:31:49 PM

I have a 11 and 7 year old that wants to play. I would like to at least start teaching them the fundamentals. Where would be the best place to start. The 11 year old has played some but the 7 year old is a “raw” talent.


Jeff Haefner says:
11/7/2014 at 8:04:45 AM


You definitely want to run man to man defense. Numerous reasons for that, which you can read about here:

They are too young for plays. As a youth coach, I only run "inbounds plays". Everything else is a free form motion where we just keep great spacing and try to move the ball. Another good option that coaches like for youth (and I recommend) is 5 out cutters:

We play against teams that run plays. I know for a fact the spend hours of practice time trying to get them to memorize the plays. And they still mess up the plays in games (even at middle school level). And we have found that the teams that run plays are very predictable and easy to defend after a few possessions.

If a coach were to run plays, I would want them to teach concepts out of the plays of how to read defense and make it equal opportunity so certain players don't hog the ball.

Hope this helps. Good luck!!


Rachael says:
11/6/2014 at 3:28:42 PM


I am coaching 7/8 year old boys this season. This is my first time coaching. So far things seem to be going pretty well but I am curious how much of a zone offense do I teach them? Are they too young to run plays? Should I expect it to be more of a "spread out" kind of thing when they are on offense?

Thanks a billion!!


Ken Sartini says:
10/1/2013 at 7:41:49 PM

Tough gig for someone of any age.... they have very little in the way of an attention span.

Be patient with them and YOURSELF. Forget about the wins or losses..... try to teach them some simple fundamentals... and everything that Jeff said is SPOT ON!

Remember, make sure that they are having FUN and yourself too.

Good luck


Jeff Haefner says:
10/1/2013 at 7:40:06 AM

Give them simple rules and enforce the rules:

1. When a coach is talking, all eyes on coach and listen carefully. No dribbling, looking down, etc.
2. Give you best effort... always hustle.
3. Don't worry about mistakes. Just try your best and never give up.

I make it pretty clear from the beginning that rule #1 will be enforced. If they don't follow the rule you can immediately make them sit on the ground without a ball or maybe do 5 push ups. You don't want to mean about it or raise your voice. You just want to be CONSISTENT. Basketball should be FUN! If you are consistent with the first rule, and not mean at all, it is still a lot of fun and they listen much better.

You can find more ideas here:


alyssa hadley says:
9/30/2013 at 11:49:42 PM

i'm a new coach and i am 14. i'm teaching 1st through 3rd grade how can i get them to concentrate?


Tammy Jones says:
3/11/2013 at 10:46:08 AM

As I keep coaching my older son's team (we just finished our 2nd grade season), I have depended on Breakthrough Basketball's resources to coach these boys correctly. We do drills to work on the basics and have, at the player's insistence, given them harder plays (Greece play) to run. They work so hard and enjoy the drills we give them. This last season, they went 12-0 (we were 6-6 the season before) including beating what was considered the toughest team twice. This team had three players that were at least a good head and a half taller than our tallest boy. The first game our team pulled it out in the last 30 seconds to win by 1. The second game, they controlled the entire game and won by 8. I have utilized not only the drills and plays but also the tips on dealing with players and coaching philosophies. EVERY player scored this season and I made sure in our last game that ALL of the other team's players had also scored. My boys understood exactly why this was so important and never once questioned why were doing it. Our boys acted when class when they won and never once displayed poor sportsmanship. Our motto is "Act like you've won before and that you'll win again." Thank you for EVERYTHING you provide on your website and we'll continue to utilize what you provide. It really helps out inexperienced coaches and is an awesome resource.


Ken says:
1/2/2012 at 3:33:06 PM

I would suggest that he starts out a little closer - maybe from the top of the key... but before I would do that I would run what we called an X out drill.... player starts at the end line and dribbles out diaganally to the oppoiste L with the outside hand.... goes back out to the other side, opposite hand and returns with the outside hand again... shooting lay ups with the proper hand and foot.

Thinking about this I would step back and run a mikan drill.... using the proper footwork and correct hand... one step up and shoot on one side, take the ball out of the net or rebound and go to the other side and do the same thing - one side will be the right hand and right foot up.... and the other side willl be the left hand and foot

They are 8 years old, use the kis method ...
One step at a time.


Richard says:
1/2/2012 at 3:25:11 PM

Thanks for the drills it helps :-)


Ben Louis says:
2/17/2011 at 10:31:40 AM

Our boys basketball coach runs a full-court layup drill in which players are expected to make a left-handed layup from the left side, using only their left hand to shoot. If the boys miss their shot, they are ordered to do pushups. If the coach thinks they used their right hand on the shot to any degree, the pushups are doubled.

There was no instruction given on how to make the left-handed layup. Our boys are eight years old, and nobody can make this shot. So the drill compels them to fail, with the consequence being pushups.

Would you please comment on this drill? Thanks.


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