Take some time when you’re setting up your youth basketball practice plan. You probably will not do exactly the same thing every practice.
Some practices will be more fundamental-driven, while in others you want to do more scrimmaging. Here are some suggested skills to include in your practices:
Warm-up and athletic work – ten to fifteen minutes
This is likely the thing most often left OUT of practices, and it’s one of the most important things to do. This work helps avoid injuries, and improves athletic ability and performance. The better your players move, the better they will play. It makes good sense to include this in your practice plan.
Try to include a basketball in as much of the warm-up as you can. Some of the exercises will include a basketball, and some will not, because many youth programs don’t have enough basketballs for each player to have one.
Also include some simple basketball stretches and flexibility exercises in the warm-up
Teaching skills and using fun practice drills to improve skills – twenty-five to thirty minutes
The number one reason that young children quit sports is that it’s not fun for them anymore. Your youth basketball practice plan needs to include some basics that pique their interest and make it fun. You want to teach skills, but it has to be interesting, too. Make it enjoyable for them, as much as you can.
Try doing a fun skill drill. In this way, you teach them a skill, and follow it up with a fun drill that works on the skill they just learned. This will help make the practices less monotonous.
Games that develop offense and defense skills – (2 on 2 and 3 on 3) – twenty minutes
When young people scrimmage, it’s a good idea not to do a lot of 5-on-5 drills, because then the players who are the least advanced don’t get to play as much. 2-on-2 or 3-on-3 gives everyone a chance to improve their skills.
5-on-5 can be done at any level, but don’t use it as much with younger players, because the skill work is much more important right now.
Cool down – five minutes
DON’T use stretches that hold muscles in certain positions, with younger players. At that age, the child’s nervous system hasn’t developed enough that their bodies can use static stretching. Yoga can affect a younger child’s coordination and movement patterns. Use the range of motion exercises instead of yoga-type exercises for younger children.
Warm-up without basketballs: Crab walk, backpedals, carioca, leg kicks, jog down, walking lunge, defensive slide (slow then fast), skipping with arm circles, half-skip with arm circles, tennis ball drops, jumping and landing, squatting form.
Teaching skills and fun drills
Lay ups, form shooting, fast shots, jump/stop drill, pivot 21 layups
Fun games to practice offensive and defensive skills
No-dribble keep away, defensive challenge.
Defense work: Teach the basic defensive stance, the slide and basic principles for guarding the player with the ball. Don’t worry if the youth want to play more offense – as they develop, they will want to play more defense as well. Focusing on defense for five to ten minutes in a Level One practice will be plenty.
We hope this article helped you to define some of that you will cover in your youth basketball practice plan.