Basketball Coaching Tips 

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I get e-mail from new coaches asking for coaching advice. This is some thoughts and ideas that I have found to work out quite well. I plan to add to this, so if you have any ideas. Just e-mail me. Geoff

Rebound Drill

Do you have a tall kid who gets a bunch of offensive rebounds and just can't seem to put the ball back into the hoop. Try this drill. Two people at a basket a shooter about foul line and the other kid in front of the hoop. Tell the shooter to shoot the ball and try to miss, have the underneath kid rebound the ball and put it back into the basket. (This drill paid immediate dividends)

Dribble Tag
Everyone dribbles a ball and they play tag, must be in control of ball when tagging someone, you may want to limit the area of play.

Knock Away
Everyone is in a confined area of the gym, everyone has a ball ready to dribble, when I say go everyone must dribble while at the same time trying to knock the ball out of the other players hand. Players who go outside the zone, have their ball knock away or is not aggressive enough is out of the game. (Thanks to kennedyb)

Divide into two groups for full court races, i.e. dribble down right handed and back left hand. Dribble down backwards, and back frontwards. Dribble down and shoot till you make a basket, or shoot once and keep track of points.

During a the scrimmage I would start counting down from 10 (10-9-8-7-6 ...) Giving the players an idea what the end of a quarter is like, it cut down on the those wild half court shots with 5 seconds to go.

Freeze Scrimmage
Kids love to scrimmage and coaches try to coach with drills. I would do freeze scrimmage, I would blow the whistle and everyone was to freeze right where they are. I would explain who was out of position, missed a open person or someone was doing something right.

Trading cards
I would go down to the local card store and buy a box of basketball trading cards, I would have contests and use the cards as prices. I would vary the contest so ever one would have a chance to win. i.e. Foul shooting, lay up contest, team races.

3 x 5 Cards
I would copy drills, plays or defenses down on a 3 x5 card sort them in the order I wanted to do them and put them in my back pocket, thus I had a practice plan.

Practice Jerseys
Check the local thrift stores i.e. Goodwill, I was able to find 5 red jersey (didn't match but they were red). I never cared much for shirts and skins in cold gyms and one year I had a girl turn out.

Bull Rush
It really emphasizes hustle, one-on-one moves and strong defense. Plus, the kids really enjoy it. You have the group divided up into two equal teams. Each team stands along the same baseline (separately), with the first two players up for each team, standing where the key meets the baseline. I roll, bounce or throw the ball out into the court, and when I say "go", both players run to the ball, trying to get it. They are allowed to dive and hustle their best to get the ball. Once they get it, they have to dribble back to the basket and try to score, with the other player playing defense. If the ball is stolen, then they switch offense/defense. I usually give a time limit of 30-45 seconds and that makes them concentrate on end-of-game situations. (Thanks to Jon Douglas, Hamilton, Ontario)

Full court variation. I would line the players up foul line extended, opposite of each other, stand underneath the basket and roll the ball out to the foul line.

Down Low Drill
Place one ball on each block down low, have player start in the middle and work on sliding to each block and putting the ball in the hoop. Time the player and keep track of how many they put in and the total attempted. Currently in a minute, my best player is doing about 18 out of 25. This has helped with using the backboard down low, moving for the ball. (Thanks to Jocelyn Perez, New York, New York)

Beanbag Dribble
Players pair up and each player has a basketball. While dribbling their own ball they then play catch with a bean-bag, about the size of the palm of the hand. First dribbling with the right hand and tossing and catching the bean bag with the left. This can be tricky since most kids are right handed! Variations two beanbags and kids group into threes and form a triangle toss the bag around the triangle. (Thanks to Joe Ralko, Regina, Canada)

Offensive Set Up and Plays
With younger kids I would use a 1-3-1 offensive set up and give them some basic movement ideas and let them create from there. Kids tend to look like un-oiled robots when trying to run elaborate a plays. Sometimes I have them pass four times before shooting, I use two man games, for example: the baseline guy will come up and screens, then the wing guys cuts to the basket, or have the wing guy go down set a screen for the baseline guy who can pop open for a shot, or have the baseline guy move to the side the ball is being passed, have the post (foul line guy) roll to the hoop when the ball goes to the wing or down to the baseline guy. Have wings and the point guards pass the ball around then reverse it back to wing guy for a shot. There are many possibilities, use your imagination and your players strengths.

Check out our recommended Books.  If you are looking for more plays.

Parent Relations
As for dealing with parents, it is one of those things, as long as you are winning, their kid is playing, and you are not yelling at him, they will think your a good coach. Some hints with dealing with parents. Keep them informed, don't rely on the kids, no matter what age, I would hand out a packet, that would have all the parents first names, phone numbers, schedule, special league game rules, and a letter to the parents saying how you are going to coach and to please call you or an assistant, or a team parent who can act as a third party, if they have an issue. The tip sheet of course. Try not to do things that will embarrass the kid while they are playing, try to sub on positive events, don't yell at a kid across the court. Communicate and be friendly.

Shooting Drill
Set up 3 teams and position them equal distance from basket. 1 team on left, 1 on right, 1 in center. Have all teams shoot baskets rotating players each shot for a time limit of 60 seconds and keeping track of baskets made. Each player must rebound own shot and pass back to next player in line. The teams will change spots after each minute until each team has shot from each spot. You can either start back at 3 point line, then free throw line, and lay-ups or short shot. This is a fun drill and improves shooting skills. Losing teams can run lap around gym.  (Thanks, Gerry Burns )

Boxing Out Drill
Having trouble with boxing out? Well, I have a drill which works. Okay, put an object on the post blocks and have two players {one boxing and one trying to get the object) box out to get the object. (Thanks Harmon)

Two Balls Three Shooters Drill
Three players go out on the floor where they are going to shoot from. Two of the players has a ball. They shoot. The player who's ball comes off the rim first gets his rebound and passes to the player without a ball. The other player gets his rebound and passes it to the player who just passed to the guy without the ball. The process continues. you could have a time limit or an amount of shots made. (Thanks, Luke P. (age 14) Goldsboro, North Carolina)

Shooting Free Throws while Tired Drill
The last thing I do with my kids at practice is have them shoot free throws   while they are tired. I have them run the court and back, and I will pick  a player to shoot 2 free throws. This cycle repeats until they have hit 10 free throws or the last 15 minutes of practice have elapsed. Each kid that comes up for the free throw, I tell them, 'we are down by one, and I know you are tired, but I need you to come through and win the game.' I have found that the players are up to the challenge. It has worked for me. (Thanks, Martin Santiago Belen, New Mexico)

Box Out Drill
Most young players have a tendency to jump when closing out on an offensive player. To teach staying down on closeout and also box out, a player passes from the baseline to the elbow. They then close out on the player with the ball, while staying down. The player with the ball then shoots and the defensive player steps and turns to box out. Variations Of this allow the player with the ball to drive and or go for the rebound. (Thanks, Rod Brown)

How to beat a zone by Dick DeVenzio
"To beat a zone, you have to puncture its middle, not just trim the edges. You have to get the ball into the gut and score inside or force the defenders to converge, and then shoot 3's after the ball gets passed out. Three pointers taken after pass-outs give the shooter time to see the defenders coming (it's easy to judge distance in these situations, and easy to fake out defenders who are running at you, in case you fear you can't get the shot off).

When you just stand around the perimeter, the shots typically have to be taken more quickly with less sense of exactly where the defenders are. Also it is more difficult to shoot accurately when you have to focus on the rim quickly (after receiving a pass from the side) than when you already see the rim as the pass is coming. The sooner a shooter can focus on the rim, the easier the shot is. But, even more important, when the ball comes from the middle of the zone, causing defenders to converge and then move out, this opens up rebounding lanes for offensive players. When the ball is merely swung around the perimeter, usually there are no rebounding lanes.  Dick DeVenzio


Q: how about a girl\boy is way taller then you & the person on your team that is suppose to garde   her want what do you do
A:  Be in their way; be a pest, try to knock the ball away when they dribble, get touches on the ball, don't worry about fouling them, stay between them and the basket, block them out on rebounds.  They may own the upper half (by being taller) but you own the lower half !!   Good luck and have fun.

Q: give me some shooting tips now and some put downs for the rest of the team i need them NOW!!!!! 
A: Shooting is practice and confidence, so practice shooting all you can.  Start close to the basket and move out as you make them.   I wouldn't put down my team mates, I would encourage them, and they will encourage you, which will boost your confidence and make you a better shooter.  Good Luck and have Fun.

Q: I have a question for you since you're a coach.  My 5th grade daughter is sooo stressed out about being on a BBall team.  She's only had one practice and says, "All the other girls know how to play!"  The only other team sport she played on was swim team.  I think she should stick with it.  Is that the best decision, should I talk to her coach?  Thanks! Helen
A: I would encourage your daughter to keep playing, she about 10 and to try new things is great for kids that age. But, they all think they have to be the best without practicing.  I would talk to her coach and let them know the situation.


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