Youth basketball players need to learn and practice the fundamentals of the game, including ball handling, defense, passing and shooting, to have success and prepare for the next level. Incorporating these drills into every practice session will help your players improve. Conduct drills that involve all your players at once and give them plenty of repetitions for each skill. Encouraging your players to develop their skills with home practice leads to greater confidence and ability.
Defensive Slide Drill
When playing defense, a youth basketball player should assume a wide stance, with his feet wider than shoulder-width apart, and flex his knees so he can quickly slide from side to side and backward in reaction to the offensive player he is guarding. He should also keep his hands up and outside his shoulders to take away passing lanes. The defensive slide drill teaches youth players how to play defense correctly and conditions their bodies so they can play defense effectively for an entire game. Have your players scatter throughout one half of the court, facing the baseline, and assume a defensive stance. Starting on the baseline, alternately dribble to the left and right, working your way down the court. The players should mirror your movements, sliding backwards and sideways at a 45-degree angle each time you change directions. Make sure they maintain a proper defensive stance throughout the drill. Stop when you reach half-court.
Third-grade boys will love this drill because it combines the classic elementary-school game of tag with an essential basketball fundamental -- dribbling. Give each player a ball and designate one or two players as taggers. All the players except the taggers dribble randomly throughout the court, without going out of bounds, while the taggers dribble as they try to tag as many players as they can in a minute. When a player gets tagged, he exits the court for the remainder of the game. You can also have the taggers play without a ball and try to steal the balls from the other players to send them out of the game.
Although youth players may have more fun practicing long three-point shots, it is more important that they are able to make layups consistently. This drill requires players to dribble the full length of the floor as fast as possible and complete a layup at the other end. Divide your players into two groups and have the groups line up on the baseline in opposite corners of the court. Have a coach stand at the free throw line on each side. The first player in each line takes a ball, tosses it against the backboard, rebounds the ball, passes it to the coach at the free throw line and then sprints down the opposite sideline toward the basket on the other end of the court. The coaches pass the ball back to the players before they cross half court. The players catch the ball, dribble to the basket, complete a layup and then move to the back of the line on the same side of the court. Then the next player in each line grabs the ball and the process starts over again. Continue the drill for five minutes or more, giving each player multiple repetitions.