Coaching basketball fundamentals is the most important thing a coach does. Fundamentals are the building blocks to becoming a solid basketball player.
Fundamentals are not coached they are taught. This is an area where the coach never thinks about winning and losing just helping players perfect a skill. Allowing them to make mistakes and giving them the encouragement needed to stay focused and motivated. The real question is what are basketball fundamentals.
They are the basic skills that a player needs in order to progress their skill set forward. These fundamental skills can be divided into 4 categories. Shooting, ball handling (which includes dribbling, non-dribbling drills and passing), defense and offense.
The fundamentals of shooting are the acronym BEEF, which stands for Balance, Eyes, Elbow and Follow Thru. Technically the acronym should be BEEFO, with the “O” standing for one-handed. Ball handling includes dribbling, non-dribbling drills and passing.
All the fancy basketball moves like the crossover, between the legs, around the back, under the butt and the hesitation dribble all originate with very basic dribbling fundaments.
The basic dribbling moves are V-Dribble, Front/Back, Crossovers, Figure Eight, Scissors and the same moves done with two basketballs.
The basic non-dribbling moves are Squish, Taps, Circles, Up and Downs, In and Outs, Figure Eights and Scissors. The fundamentals of offense have nothing to do with basketball skills but are about creating intelligent basketball players. The fundamentals of offense are pass more than dribble, make the extra pass, take quality shots, “Feed the Bigs”, and only pass to targets and rebound.
The fundamentals of defense are ball-you-me, box out, help defense, defensive sliding and anticipation. If a coach does nothing more than instruct the fundamentals players will improve. Having strong fundamentals will allow the player to move onto more advanced skills. If a player cannot shoot one-handed with a good follow thru they will not become a good consistent shooter.
Two handed or players that thumb the ball on release will make shots but will not develop the ability to become knock down shooters. If a player does not master the basic dribbling fundamentals, more advanced dribbling will difficult and in game situations will not be able to handle pressure, see the floor or help break the press.
There are fantastic talents that do not understand the fundamentals of offense. They just want to score and look impressive while the team loses. They were never coached on the fundamentals like making the extra pass; instead they will hog the ball and hurt the team. If a player was never taught how to slide correctly the defense will always breakdown when the player get beat off the dribble.
It is easy to see why coaching basketball fundamentals are necessary. This is especially true for youth basketball coaches. All levels of basketball should continually work on fundamentals but for your players age 5-12 it is crucial. These are the formative years as a player and those that develop great fundamentals are the players that fill high school varsity rosters.
At the youth level at least 50% of the practice should be set aside for coaching fundamentals. The coach should pay close attention to how each player perform the skill and immediately give feedback, positive and negative. All accomplished basketball players pay tribute to the coach that forced them to use their off hand, shoot correctly, become an unselfish player and understand that defense is all about desire and hard work. These players all have one thing in common, great fundamentals. Each coach owes it to their players to not overlook the basics but to teach them.