Teaching Basketball Skills To Elementary School Players
Having solid ball skills is at the core of being a good basketball player. The ability to dribble, pass and shoot will give players the offensive tools they need to compete and be productive in games. While most young players spend the majority of their practice time working on their shooting, the best players balance their practice time on dribbling and passing.
Practicing And Developing Dribbling Skills
Youth coaches can use practice time to focus on some of the individual skills to improve in these areas. I like to give every player a pre-practice routine with a teammate to develop skills and improve their confidence.
That allows them to use that 10-15 minutes before practice in an efficient productive way.
Teaching Basketball Skills To Elementary School Players. It is important to progress from stationary drills like V-dribbles and figure 8 to more advanced on the move dribbling like crossover, between the legs and spin dribbles using cones or chairs to give them some obstacles.
Of course one of the keys to improve their skill level is to get them to dribble with their heads up and not looking down at the ball. Have your players focus on the rim or a target in front of them to keep their eyes up. I like to have them yell how many fingers I have up while dribbling to test their focus.
As their skills develop, it’s always good to challenge them to do more sophisticated drills by adding some finishing drills and passing off the dribble with either hand. It’s important to stress protecting the ball and using their bodies to shield the ball from defenders.
Practice good footwork and pivoting out of a triple threat position to develop balance and being ball strong when closely guarded.
Related : Coaching Kindergarten Basketball 101
Who Should Be Doing Ball Handling Drills?
One of the questions that coaches often have is whether to teach ball handling to their bigs and do you use the same drills for both guards and big men.
While I think it is important to get all of your players comfortable with the ball, post players should be drilled on using a crab dribble and developing good footwork rather than breakdown moves on the run. Many good coaches try to limit dribbling from their interior players to avoid turnovers.
In my experience, it has become abundantly clear that over dribbling is one of the biggest problems in youth basketball.
Dribbling with a purpose should be stressed by coaches and using the dribble to attack the basket or improve passing angles are just a couple of things that coaches can teach in practice. I have become a big fan of the two dribble, ten pass offenses rather than the ten dribble two pass approach.
Using your dribble to create space to shoot or pass has to be taught to most players at the middle school level. Changing speeds and direction can be drilled in practice and using a good retreat dribble to avoid pressure and traps is always smart. While some players learn those skills on their own most must be taught these moves and when to use them in game situations.
The one fact that I have learned about ball handling in all my years of coaching, is that no player has ever improved their skill level by listening to a coach talk about dribbling. So get a ball in their hands and give every player ample time to get the reps they need to improve.
They will thank you when they make the high school team. Have a successful season and remember to have fun teaching them the “greatest game in the world”!
Joe Meade is a Bronx native and graduate of Cardinal Hayes High School and St. Thomas Aquinas College. He earned his Masters degree in Sport Management from The United States Sports Academy in 1994. Coach Meade is the former head boys basketball coach at Salesian High School (CHSAA) in New Rochelle and men’s basketball coach at Lehman College (NCAA Division 3).
Joe was also an assistant coach at The University of New Haven and Southern Connecticut State University (NCAA Division 2) in New Haven. Meade has spent the last ten years as the Northeast Regional College Scout for the NBA’s Utah Jazz. Joe is also the Director of HoopSkillsBasketball.com where he runs camps and clinics throughout the year. He enjoys speaking to athletes and students about coaching and life after basketball.
Also Check out: Kindergarten Basketball 101