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Tips for Youth Basketball Practice

In my recent experience working with the youth I have found that our younger generations are losing more and more focus and appreciation for basketball fundamentals. I cannot stress this enough.

I personally feel that young players learn a lot from the NBA game which is not necessarily bad but also not necessarily great.Look at the NBA game.

The talent is absolutely amazing however NBA teams and players generally have a lack of regard for a complex offense. Isolation and Pick and Roll plays are used heavily in the professional game which in turn creates sloppy fundamentals. Players at the youth level rarely understand the importance of triple threat position, taking a jump stop, or the basic defensive stance.

Because of the lack of appreciation or understanding, youth coaches must constantly drill into their heads the importance of basic fundamentals and why they are effective in game situations.

Tips for Youth Basketball Practice

Video games have created a sort of trickle effect on the actual game. While youth players can learn a lot from the game by playing NBA 2K10 for example, video games have consequently taken players off the courts and into their living room.

You rarely find a player in today’s world who is driven and dedicated to basketball fundamentals on his or her own. This is truly a tragedy in my opinion. The lack of practice of fundamentals outside practice thus forces coaches to focus more on it in practice.

I have found in my own personal experience that you almost have to force players to work on their fundamentals and you have to constantly get into their ear of working hard and taking them seriously.

Unfortunately, players just want to play games but you need to constantly remind them that they will not be productive in a game situation if they do not have the proper skill set first. Part of your skill set derives from sound fundamentals as raw talent will only take you so far.
I believe that it’s important that you do not pick on but rather make it an emphasis to drill this concept into your best player’s heads. Why? Players who are not as talented as the star players will naturally attract and imitate what the star players do. Your best players also need to be great leaders.

I personally believe you are in for a long season if your best player is not your hardest worker. You need to push these players into maxing out their full potential and thus creating a trickle effect for the rest of the team.

You need to install a solid work ethic into them, so your team works hard. Make sure they take fundamentals seriously by constantly preaching why this is fundamental is important and why it will make you better. It’s one of my greatest emphasis and tips for youth basketball practice.

Fundamentals are a simple part of the game but often overlooked which brings me to my greatest tip I can give to any youth basketball coach in practice. Keep it simple!

Youth basketball practice begins and ends with fundamentals. Always remind yourself that it’s “fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals.” Find drills that employ one or more fundamentals. Focus on one fundamental each day in practice and build upon that foundation.

The complex offensive plays and detailed defensive strategies will come later in life. For now, youth players really need to focus and develop their fundamentals. Even though they are young, even at the youth level players may have developed years of bad habits. Get them out of their bad habits. It will take several practices (if not a whole year) and saying the same thing over and over again, but they will eventually learn. Do not get frustrated.

Bringing me to my next point and more important tips for youth basketball practice:

Always use visuals to drive home your point. Today’s young generation is always surrounded by visuals such as their cell phone, iPod, or portable video game device. Consequently, they learn best when you can apply a basic visual to what you are trying to teach them.

I’m afraid simply sitting down with them and lecturing verbally is just not enough. The youth have a very short attention span and they will eventually draw you out of their minds.

Keep things short, simple, and too the point. Demand attention and respect and punish them lightly when they do not obey. A few wind sprints down the court is more than enough to eventually drive home the point that they must pay attention and depend on you to get better.

Best of luck


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