Basketball Coach's Reference

CLBL – League (e.g. Boys A) – Team Name
Coach - Provide name and contact info
Great kid 1
Great kid 2
Great kid 3
Great kid 4
Great kid 5
Great kid 6
Great kid 7
Great kid 8
Practice and Game Schedule
1. Practices will begin the 2nd week of November
2. Games will begin the 1st weekend of December
3. Provide your practice schedule and let them know they can locate the game
schedules at after the schedules are developed and posted.
To build on basic skills and introduce new skills used in the game of Basketball.
To experience co-operation and organization needed in a team game.
Develop the awareness for control and co-ordination.
To show an understanding for the rules and tactics of the game.
To enjoy and encourage players to participate in after school activities.
To develop sportsmanship and teamwork.
My intention is to build on the basics and then develop drills and situational plays where
they can be combined and refined into the higher-level skills.
Pivot, Fake &
Pass, Cut,
Dribble &
Catch &
Passing off
Catch &
Pivot & Shoot
the Dribble
while Cutting
Game Guidelines
Arrive at least 15 minutes prior to game
Pre-game discussion
Explain playing time rules – all players play 1 qtr each half and all players must
sit out at least 1 full quarter.
Explain other rules unique to your league regarding pressing, defenses, free
Post-game cool-down and discussion
Parent Help Required
There are a few jobs I will need help with:
“Duty” roster for book/clock (Visitors do the clock, Home team does the book)
Post-season function organizer(s)
Assistant Coach
Mention sponsorship and if anyone is interested
contact Earl Eck [email protected] on the CLBL Board.
Telephone roster
Lennon  Star  Harrison  McCartney  Lennon [That way Lennon knows
everyone has been called]
Practice Sessions
The following sections outline a proposed syllabus for the season. This is not a rigid
schedule and I’ll be playing things by ear to see if I should move quicker or slower,
repeat some things and forget others etc. In addition, I’ll build on some of the skills and
combine them: for example, their ability to run, pivot, dribble, and shoot form the basis
of the lay-up.
Please don’t think you have to memorize any of this stuff, it’s just that I like to let people
know exactly what’s going on. If you want to use this as a doorstop or as something to
squash bugs with – feel free! ;-) All of this stuff is a compilation of stuff I’ve found over
time and is the intellectual property of many people, none of whom I’ve credited.
Practices are only 1 hour in duration which means we need to make the most of
the time
Arrive 5-10 minutes prior to start of session
Begin warm-ups prior to taking the court (while preceding team finishes their
Be ready to take the court as soon as its vacated
Typical Program
Free Shooting
Goal: Position, Position, Position
Suicide Runs
Half-court lay-ups
Eyes-up dribbling
Emphasize protection of the ball with body
Offensive Stations
Rotate every 3 minutes:
1. Bank shots
2. Rebounds
3. Give and goes
Random Passes
Free Throws
May have scrimmage against other team
practicing at Catoctin instead
My Way of Doing Things…
Make it fun for the players so the enjoyment of the sport will always come
first. They should be thinking, 'I don't have to get a scholarship right now, I
don't have to be a star, I can just enjoy playing.'
Teach them teamwork. Usually an individual thing becomes great because
of something the team has done - whether it be a screen that was set or a
pass that was made.
Don't criticize. While improvement comes from making mistakes, players
don't want to look stupid. If you really criticize, it puts the player in a bad
situation and sometimes they will even lose their love for the sport.
Don't worry about winning and losing. It's important to be competitive and
to have winning as a goal, but it's much more important to teach them to play
hard, to communicate, and to love to work on little individual skills. Winning
will be a by-product of that.
Be enthusiastic. The players should sense from you that you're having fun.
Are you ready to teach them? Are you excited about being with them? Your
demeanor should show that.
Take pride in individual achievements instead of just the result of the
game. Say you've been teaching Jimmy to set a screen, and it's tough for
him, then all of a sudden Jimmy does set the screen. You may have lost by
10 points, but Jimmy set 4 screens!
Don't get down on a team that plays hard. The biggest thing that a player
can do wrong is not play hard. Sometimes I'm much more on them after
winning if we haven't played hard. If we've lost and played hard, I'm never
down on a team for that.
Recognize what you can't control. Work hard and improve all the time.
That's something you can control. I can't control if the other team is just more
talented. But if we play hard, we can win every time we go out on the court.
Can we play hard? Yeah. Can we be enthusiastic? Yeah. Can we push one
another? Yeah. Can we always hit our shot? No.
Encourage less-gifted players. Show them that what they're doing is
helping our squad, making an impact. Teach them that sometimes they can
only get to a certain level with what has been given them. But what they have
been given them is still good.
Point out improvement. If players can see themselves improving in sports,
their self-respect is going to grow. And it’s going to have an impact on a
bunch of other things they will do. So you need to point out that improvement
to them.
Advice to Sports Parents
Support your player. There's value in each player. Find that value and
enhance that. Not everyone can be the star. Take joy in the fact that she is
out there; she has the guts to compete.
Support the coach. A lot of times parents get so involved in just wanting to
win, or wanting their player to be the star, they put pressure on the coach by
saying things like, 'My player is not as good, you need to do this.' What they
need to do is just be supportive and say, 'I want my player to have a great
experience and improve. How can I support you in that way?’
Communicate with your player's coach. In coaching, the youngster, the
coaching staff, and the family are all part of a team.
Your Expectation of Me
Your player deserves to have a coach who will teach basketball skills and treat him/her
with respect, yet demand a high level of effort.
Preliminary Session
Introduce the Game
Taking your scoring opportunities
Transitioning: Offense  Defense
Ball movement
Open spaces
Promoting the ball
o Dribbling
o Throwing to a voice
o Passing and re-positioning
Shooting the ball
o Refining technique
o “Hot zone” awareness
o Using the backboard
Getting the ball back
o Rebounding
o Intercepting & anticipating
A - Walk the Court
Identify parts of the court that are important offensive and defensive areas
Identify the shooting “hot spots” – places I want all girls to shoot from whenever
they are there with the ball (about 8-10 feet from basket)
B – Some Running
Suicide Runs
Run from baseline to free-throw & back
Run from baseline to halfway & back
Run from baseline to halfway
Run from halfway to free-throw & back
Run from halfway to baseline
C – Ball Handling
Review fundamentals:
Dribble with the right hand and left hand.
Protect the ball while dribbling by using the 'outside hand', i.e. the hand
furthest from the opponent.
Keep the body between your opponent and the ball.
Change your pace: keep the defender off-balance.
Do not dribble from habit or when a pass is better. AVOID a "one bounce"
Eyes-up dribbling
Watch coach and count fingers held up while dribbling
Coach will move from place to place around court to force players to shift
Left-hand, right-hand, and alternate
One Ball Suicide
Divide them back into teams and now they do a one-ball suicide.
They must dribble right handed one-way, and left handed back.
Get them used to dribbling with either hand.
Every time they get to a free throw line, half court line, or a baseline, they have to
slap the floor while dribbling the ball.
After everyone does this once, then they do it again competitively
Teaching Points
Fingers well spread
Use good 'wrist and finger' action to push the ball to the floor Do not slap the ball
Feet shoulder width apart
Knees slightly bent
Do not look at the ball (head up)
Peripheral vision
Keep ball by right or left leg depending on hand being used to dribble
D – Shooting
Hot Shot:
Each player has 1 minute to move from A through E and take a shot.
Made shots score according to the value within ‘(n)’
Player rebounds their ball.
3 bonus points for getting to all 5 positions.
Session 1
A - Footwork
Zig-Zag Cuts
Players run from baseline towards halfway at 45o angle. When the coach signals
perform a V-cut off the left foot. Turn around and repeat, using the right foot.
Teaching Points
Stay low when cutting
Cuts need to be explosive
Cut off the outside foot
Jump Stop
Landing on both feet as above, but jump stop when the teacher signals. Start again
when the teacher indicates.
Teaching Points:
Feet should be shoulder width apart to give good balance.
Emphasize bending of the knees a little.
Triple Threat
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Stagger your feet slightly, so your left foot fits into the arch of your right foot
if you're right-handed.
Bend your knees and crouch slightly.
Grasp the ball with your left hand on the side of the ball and your right hand
on top.
Bend both elbows so they're approximately at right angles.
Survey the court at all times.
Decide what the most appropriate maneuver for your current situation is shooting, passing or dribbling.
Teaching Points
You want to be comfortable when you're in the triple threat position.
If you get into the triple threat position every time you receive the ball,
you don't waste excess movements deciding what to do.
Having three options makes it more difficult for the defender to figure
out what your next move will be.
One-Two Stop As above, use one-two stop when signal is given.
Teaching Points: One-Two Stop As above with one foot landing first then the
Add in the pivot on stopping.
Pivot: A player who receives the ball when standing still or who steps correctly
after catching is allowed to pivot. Pivoting means moving one foot in any
direction while the other remains in contact with the ground.
NOTE: At the end of a one-two stop, pivot on the rear foot. At the end of the
jump stop, pivot can be on either foot. Discourage using the favorite foot
B - Ball Awareness Drills
Eyes-up dribbling
Watch coach and count fingers held up while dribbling
Coach will move from place to place around court to force players to shift
Left-hand, right-hand, and alternate
Three ladies per group.
1 at either end of court
1 player in the middle
End players alternate bringing ball up and back attempting to get past
C - Passing
Chest Pass
This is the basic pass used in mini-basketball. Holding the ball at chest
height, players throw the ball straight to each other.
Two Handed Overhead Pass
This pass is made from above and slightly in front of the head. Excellent
tactic when opposed by a smaller player. Also used when closely marked.:
Teaching Points
The passer must have:
Firm 'W' grip
Two hands on the ball
Fingers spread
Good control over the ball
Keep palms off the ball and elbows in - encourage "no chickens"
Follow through with strong wrist action
Arms extended after pass
Step into pass
Use peripheral vision
D - Catching
It is important that players:
Step to meet a pass
Raise hands to chest height ready to catch
Give target with hand
Use two hands for safe catching
Watch the ball
Teaching Points
'W' Grip
Step into pass
Extend arms
TARGET - do not pass until a player gives a target, a player must always be ready
to meet a pass.
E - Drills
Weave around defenders
Standard weave in-out drill with 3 ladies moving up and back the court.
Two ladies act as defenders so that “weavers” focus on matters outside of
simply running and passing.
Ring of Fire
Five players or more stand in a pretty wide circle, with one more player in the
middle of the circle.
The player in the middle has a ball, and a player on the circle has a ball.
The middle player bounce passes it to a player next to the outside player with
the ball.
At the same time, the outside player with the ball passes to the middle player.
The middle player catches and passes to the next player, while receiving a
pass from the last player with the ball.
Random Target
One player stands in middle of circle created by other players.
The center player passes at random and without looking at the player they are
The receiver must be ready at all times to receive pass and to make a good
pass back to the center.
F – Shooting
Session 2
A - Footwork
Figure 8s
Repeat V-cut exercise as in lesson 1.
B - Shooting Drills
C - Passing
Revise chest pass and overhead pass from lesson 1
Bounce pass - As for chest pass but the ball is passed using the floor. Pass the ball
to partner so that it bounces once. Bounce should be closer to the teammate than
to the passer, i.e. more than halfway. Particularly relevant when guarded by a tall
Javelin Pass - This is a one-handed pass used to pass the ball to an unmarked
teammate who is too distant for a chest pass.
Teaching Points
For right handed pass:( Javelin pass)
1. Hold the ball at shoulder height
2. Step onto the left foot
3. Pass the ball and extend the arm and flick the fingers as for chest pass.
4. The ball is not lobbed but is passed as directly as possible.
Passing Challenges:
Beat the time
How many chest passes can you and your partner make in 30 seconds?
Beat the class
How many overhead passes can you make before dropping the ball?
D - Dribbling
Basic Drill
Repeat exercises from Preliminary Session
Session 3
A - Footwork
Repeat Jump Stop and One-Two stop exercises from lesson 1 and see also games and
practices to develop basic stance and pivot in rules section of this manual.
B - Ball Awareness
Repeat lesson 1 and/or 2, (ball around the waist, ball around the legs and switch hands).
C - Passing
Practice chest, bounce, overhead and javelin pass. Run ‘Eyes Up' drill. (NOTE: players
should be further apart for javelin/baseball pass).
Around the key
Team positions itself around the key:
Player 1 passes to 2 and then moves to 2’s spot
Player 2 passes to 3 and moves to 3’s spot and so on around the key
Player 8 shoots and rebounds their own shot and moves to 1’s spot and starts the
process again:
D - Dribbling
Revise dribbling from session 2.
E - Set Shot
This is a shot from a stationary position. All set shots for beginners should be taken close
to the basket. The distance may be increased as proficiency improves. Aim a high arc so
that the ball is dropping.
Organize the pairs into 2 groups.
Group 1 practices shooting. Players remain in their pairs, one ball per pair. One
player takes 5 shoots at the basket while his/ her partner rebounds, i.e. collects the
ball and passes it back to the shooter. After 5 shots switch roles.
Group 2 plays ‘random pass’ with groups in the middle of the floor.
Switch groups after 5 minutes.
Session 4
The activities in this lesson are a revision of the skills learned in 2nd session.
A - Footwork
Players run slowly around the hall. On a signal they jump stop or make a one-two stop.
Teaching Points
Feet shoulder width apart
Knees slightly bent
B - Ball Awareness
Repeat 2nd class activities
Ball around the waist, around the legs (both directions)
Figure of 8 between the legs
Switch hands (see 2nd class, lesson 2)
Teaching Points
Begin to emphasize speed of movement
C - Passing / Catching
Practice chest, bounce, overhead and javelin pass. Run 'Call my name' drill,
lesson 1. (Note: players should be further apart for javelin pass).
Revise: (see skills cards and rules section)
Chest pass
Bounce pass
Overhead pass
Javelin pass, both right and left hands
Teaching Points
'W' grip
Step into pass
Extend the arms
Flick the wrist
Hands at chest level ready to receive the pass
D - Shooting Drill
One player stands up with his / her arms held above the head. The hands are together
acting as a target. The other player "shoots" the ball into his / her hands.
Teaching Points
Arm L shaped
Wrist cocked back
Fingers spread
Shooting hand under the ball
Supporting hand at the side
Bend the knees
Extend the arm
Flick the wrist and fingers
E - Dribbling
Drill 'Call my Name'
‘Heads up’
Teaching Points
Fingers spread
Knees bent
Dribble to one side
Head up - do not look at the ball
F - Games
Bench Ball
A passing game only in teams of 4.
No dribbling
No running with the ball
No pushing / pulling / dragging
Defensive stance
Encourage the players to use their feet to get in front of the player they are defending.
Don't use arms to block the way.
Teaching Points - Defensive advice
Remind players of the correct stance
Encourage them to stop a player making a pass by standing in front of them, arms
in the air, palms flat (shinning the window)
Gain possession without physical contact
Session 5
The activities in this lesson are a revision of the skills learned in 2nd class.
A - Footwork
Partner shadow in pairs.
One is the leader, the other becomes the shadow.
On a signal players move around and the shadow attempts to stay within 1 meter
of the leader as the leader tries to dodge and cut and shake free.
On the next signal players come to a stop and revise the pivot. NOTE: practice
pivoting on both feet.
Teaching Points
Leader must not chase off in a straight line.
Step forward with one foot
Step back to the original position
Reverse direction
Use spatial references, i.e. step forward to the wall with the window, forward to
the end wall, back to the windows, etc. Use points of the compass.
Feet shoulder width apart
Knees bent at all times
Pivot on the ball of the foot - heel off the floor
B - Ball Awareness
Stand with legs apart. Hold the ball behind your back. Bounce it forward (to the front)
between the legs. When back to front is mastered try front to back.
C - Dribbling
Speed Dribble
Organize the class into relay teams behind markers or cones on the end line, one
ball per group. Each player dribbles as fast as possible to the marker and back
again. Emphasize that during practice this is not a race - the best team are those
who keep the ball in control all the time. However you could finish the drill by
having a race.
Teaching Points
Fingers spread
Push the ball out in front
Head up
Emphasize control
Drill Library
The following is a collection of drills that can be chosen as needed during any session.
Bull In The Ring
Passing, Defense
Players form a circle around a single defender.
Players in the circle must make passes to others in the circle, but may not pass to a
player next to them.
The defender must pressure the player with the ball and attempt to intercept or
"touch" the pass.
On an interception or "touch" the passer replaces the defender in the middle.
1. Use two or more balls.
2. Use two or more defenders in the circle.
3. Change size of circle for shorter or longer passes.
4. Put a time limit on ball-handler to get off pass (e.g. defender counts to 3 seconds).
Points of Emphasis
1. Fake a pass to make a pass.
2. Tough defense on the ball, don't just sag off ball.
3. Use hands to signal where you want an open pass.
4. Communicate. Call “Ball”.
5. No lollipop passes over the top of the defender.
Horseshoe Shooting
Shooting, passing/receiving
Players form two lines on baseline on either side of the key.
The first player in one line has a ball; the second player in the
other line has a ball.
The coach stands on the middle of the free-throw line.
Player 2 (front of line without ball) makes a v-cut around the
coach, calling for the ball from player 1.
Player 1 passes the ball to player
2 who shoots the basket and rebounds the ball.
After taking the rebound players pass to the front player in the opposite line
(opposite to where they came from). They then join the end of this line.
After passing the ball, the player cuts around the coach as described above and the
drill continues.
1. Take a dribble after receiving the ball and shoot off the dribble.
2. Make a hard drive to the basket rather than the shot.
3. Add a shot fake before the shot.
Points of Emphasis
1. Correct footwork on the cut and good hard change of direction.
2. Receive the ball in the triple threat position ready to shoot.
3. Correct shooting form.
4. Communicate - call for the ball.
Pass, Shoot, Box Out
Shooting, Boxing Out
Players are in pairs. Player 1 is on perimeter in shooting range;
player 2 is under basket with ball.
Player 2 passes to player 1. Player 1 takes one strong dribble
either side into a shot. Player 2 as soon as they pass the ball is
closing out, trying to pressure the shot and boxing out once the
shot is taken.
Both players go for the rebound. If offense gets the rebound they
should try and score.
Player that gets the rebound is offense on next repetition or on
made basket players rotate positions.
a) Use different parts of the floor.
b) Have 2-3 pairs at each basket and use as many baskets as you have.
c) Add competition. Keep score.
Points of Emphasis
1. Correct shooting form.
2. Dribble to go somewhere.
3. Stay low and go up into the shot.
4. Close out properly.
5. Make contact on the box out.
6. Compete for the rebound.
Post Moves
Individual Offense, Defense
Players are in groups of three.
Player 1 is perimeter passer, player 5 is offensive post,
X5 is defensive post.
Player 5 posts up looking for pass from player 1.
Player 1 can dribble from wing to corner and back along three point line.
Post should attempt to post-up strong or seal defender if possible.
Upon receiving pass, post reads defense and makes appropriate move.
This could include:
Drop-step baseline into power lay-up.
Drop-step middle into baby hook.
Turn and face, bank shot.
Turn and face, drive middle.
Turn and face, up and under (crossover into power lay-up).
Post can pass back out if a good shot isn't available.
Players rotate X5 becomes perimeter passer, post offense becomes post defense,
and perimeter passer becomes post offense.
Token defense only for beginners (coach may instruct defender to overplay one side for
offense to practice certain moves).
Points of Emphasis
1. Jump stop when receive pass.
2. Chin ball, elbows out, and low stance.
3. Read the defense - take what they give you.
4. Avoid rapid movement on offense; rather use your body and leverage to gain
5. Get body parallel to backboard for power-lay-up.
6. Go up strong, protect ball with inside arm / elbow.
7. Pump fake.
8. Slash arm, inside leg technique.
9. Defense half-front high or low depending upon position of ball. Correct footwork in
front of offense post to change from one position to the other.
Give and Go
Motion offense.
These drills (along with many other variations) can be used to teach
and practice the give-and-go.
In diagram A, O1 at point passes to a V-cutting O2 on wing and
then cuts to basket.
In diagram B, O2 returns initial pass to O1 and runs backdoor cut
for give-and-go.
In diagram C, O1 is running a give-and-go off the high post.
1. All drills should be done 3 on 0 to start and then progress to
3 on 3.
2. Start with token defense moving to full 3 on 3.
3. Run from both sides of floor equally.
Points of Emphasis
1. Offense
a. Good cuts.
b. Try for ball side cut whenever defense allows take
them away first to get ball side cut.
c. Target hand.
d. Bounce passes to cutter.
2. Defense
Defensive stance.
Correct defensive footwork.
Deny stance.
Jump to ball on pass - not after pass made.
Snap head and arm on backdoor cut.
Pick Screen (Away)
Motion offense.
Drills show how to begin teaching the pick away from the ball.
Diagram A shows point O1 passing to wing O2 and then setting
pick weak side for O3.
Diagram B shows O3 cutting off pick and O1 rolling to basket.
Diagram C shows a modification to B where an extra passer is
inserted to give both picker and cutter a pass and score.
Start drills 3 on offense & 0 none on defense and progress to 3 on
3. Start drills with token defense and move to full 3 on 3.
Points of Emphasis
The player who is setting the pick should remember to,
a. Keep your feet shoulder width apart, bend your knees and
take up a strong balanced position.
b. Hold your arms strongly across your chest to protect
c. Expect contact - you want the defender to run into you!
d. Make sure your body is positioned "square" to the direction you are trying to pick.
e. Make sure the defender is in the middle of your body.
f. Remember to call your teammate so s/he knows you are picking.
g. You must not push the defender.
h. You must remain stationary, and in your "cylinder".
i. Once the "cutter" has gone, "roll" to the basket.
The player who is cutting off the pick should remember to:
a. Not cut too soon. You must wait for the picker to have set the pick properly and to
be stationary.
b. Fake in the opposite direction that you are going to cut to put the defender off
c. Cut close to the picker! Brush shoulders with them. If you leave a gap the
defender may get through it!
d. "Read" the defense and make your move accordingly.
If the picker does a good job and the defender is run right into the pick, the
cutter should make a tight cut, close to the picker, into the lane looking for
a pass.
If the defender gets between the picker and the cutter (fights over the top
of the pick), the cutter can go back door looking for the pass. The
picker should turn (face the basket) to block the defender.
If the defender chooses to go behind the picker, the cutter pops out for an
easy pass (and possibly a 3-point shot). Again the picker can turn to block
the defender.
Correct picking angles.
Down pick - back to ball,
Up pick - back to baseline corner,
Back pick - back to basket,
Cross pick - back to ball side elbow.
Penetrate and Dish
This drill is designed to teach the skills of dribble penetration into
the key and passing the ball of to a teammate who has placed them
self in a good position.
The drill can be run from a 3 on 2 set (See Diagram A & B), and can
be run with the dribble penetration coming from any area of the
offensive court (e.g. Diagram A shows penetration from the point,
Diagram B shows penetration from the wing).
Diagram C shows one of the possible sets when running the drill 4
on 3.
Have the penetrating dribbler undefended with a defender on
each of the other offensive players.
Dribble penetration should "split" two of the defenders.
Receivers must read their defender and cut to an
advantageous position.
Dribbler should pass to best option but can continue drive to basket if defense sag
1. 3 on 2, 4 on 3 or 5 on 4.
2. Run from all parts of floor.
Points of Emphasis
1. Direct penetration between the defenders - attack the gaps.
2. Drive to score.
3. Get into the key (two feet in the key).
4. Receivers read the defense and the dribbler.
5. Receivers face dribbler in ready position.
6. Receivers cut to the basket.
Mass Defensive Drill
Players spread out on court facing the coach who
is standing in front of them.
The coach can use visual or audible cues to make
the players do the following:
1. Get into their defensive stance.
2. Footfire or pitter-patter with their feet.
3. Defensive footwork any direction (e.g. left or right slide, drop-step and slide,
retreat step, close out).
4. Change hand position - coach might move ball around and have players trace
ball, challenge shot etc.
Visual cues may be better as it encourages players to keep their heads up.
Have a player lead the others.
Points of Emphasis
1. Correct defensive stance.
2. Stay low - no bobbing up and down.
3. Keep head in middle of body.
4. Keep head back - "nose behind toes".
5. Correct defensive footwork - wide then wider - don't bring feet together.
6. Active hands.
Pivot Away – Two on One
Pivoting, Offense
Players form three lines at centerline.
Player in middle line sprints to foul line.
Player now approaching the foul line, receives pass from
the coach at free-throw line and one player from each of the other lines follow to play
Player 1 with ball must keep ball away from the two defenders for 5 seconds by pivoting
and ball movement. The coach announces the end of the five-second count and the player
tries to split the defenders and make a drive to basket.
Players return to a different line.
After 5 second count player passes to coach.
Points of Emphasis
1. Stay low and pivot aggressively.
2. Move ball strongly and vary position of ball up and down.
3. Strong step-through.
4. Good double-team technique by defenders.
Free throw lane spaces
Free-throw line
Free-throw circle
Half-court line
Center circle
Talking the Talk
MAN-2-MAN DEFENSE OR M-2-M - This is where your players guard one of their
players on defense.
ZONE DEFENSE - This is where your players cover a specific area on the floor, rather
than a specific player.
THE PAINT - This is the painted or shaded area from the free throw line to the closest
BASELINE - The out-of-bounds line behind each basket.
3 SECOND AREA - You cannot spend more than 3 seconds at a time in the paint, or the
other team gets the ball.
THE BLOCK - This is the one-foot painted black rectangle on the floor on each side of
the basket.
HASH MARKS - These are the little painted lines on the floor around the paint, where
players stand during free throw attempts.
TOP OF THE KEY - The area outside the little circle that 1/2 surrounds the free throw
3 POINT LINE - This is the area outside of the top of the key and then diagonally
toward the closest corners of the court.
***BALL *** - This is what a player yells when they are open for a pass.
DOUBLE DRIBBLE - Where you dribble with both hands at the same time.
WALKING - This is where you have the ball and you move both feet before you start
your dribble.
***THE LANE*** - This is a term we will use for a designated area in our fast breaks.
The lane is the area right beside the out-of-bounds line that runs down the length of the
court. Both sides of the court have a lane.
OPEN LANE - This is where there is a straight path to the basket without a defender in
the way.
STRONG SIDE OR BALL SIDE - This is the side that the ball is on.
HELP SIDE OR WEAK SIDE - This is the side of the court where the ball isn't.
FAST BREAK - This is when the other team shoots, we get the ball, and take the ball the
length of the court as fast as we can for a quick basket.
OUTLET PASS - This is where you get the rebound and have to go the length of the
court. The 1st pass you make to start the ball down the court is the outlet pass.
Practice Organization
Practice Planning Rules:
Plan your practice ahead of time.
Keep the practice moving (dead time will kill you). If you don't keep the kids busy,
they will find a way to keep themselves busy. And they typically don't choose the
same type of activities that a coach would.
Don't try to cover too much material, and don't concentrate on one topic too long.
You will have to tailor this rule to fit your team. The age and skill level of your
players will have to be taken into consideration.
Always save time to allow for a scrimmage. The kids can't learn how to play the
game without playing the game. You may have to modify the rules of the game early
in the pre-season if the players have not been introduced to all of the skills and or
rules of the game.
Save the "fun things" for last. I use the scrimmage as a "treat" for getting through all
of the other material.
Try to get the kids tired before "lecturing" them. I typically combine water breaks
with "lectures". The kids are tired so they might need a drink, and they are less likely
to goof around.
Practice Plan Structure
Similar to a good speech, where you tell the audience what you're going to tell them, you
tell them and then you tell them what you told them. A good practice involves telling the
kids what they are going to work on, working on it, and then telling them what they just
worked on. This approach does two things for the kids. First, it allows them start thinking
about the sport. We all know that only half of any sport is physical, the other 90% is
mental. Second, they need the mental repetition as much as the physical repetition.
With that in mind, I have divided my practices into the following segments:
1. Introduction
2. Warm-ups
3. Activities
4. Conclusion.
The Introduction is where you tell the kids what they are going to work on. The Warmups and Activities segments are where they work on it. (Warm-ups and Activities are
kind of the same thing. I separate them because too many coaches skip the very important
aspect of warming up.) The Conclusion is where you tell them what they worked on. The
following paragraphs go into detail on the Introduction segment.
I break my introductions into two parts. In the first part I review the last practice or game.
During the pre season I review the skills worked on during the previous practice. I
actually use the notes from the conclusion of the last practice. During the season I review
the previous game. Praise the good team play as well as individual play. Reward the
behavior that you want to see by letting the players know how good they did. Let them
know the one or two areas that need the most work. This will lead into the next section,
practice overview. In the practice overview tell the kids what skills you are going to work
on during this practice. Be sure you tell them why they are working on a particular skill.
The purpose of dribbling in soccer for example is to move the ball down the field - away
from your goal. This may sound obvious, but young or first time players may not
understand. With older players you can explain the strategic reasons for the activities you
have scheduled. This part of the practice (the Introduction) should not take too long.
Coaches love to talk, but players/kids don't like to listen. If you get the kids involved by
asking them questions and/or allowing them to ask questions you can go a little longer,
but even then, if you go too long you'll get into trouble. I allow five minutes for the entire
introduction. Most of the time it doesn't last more than three or four minutes.
The warm-up and activities parts of a practice correspond to the body of a speech; it's
where the real work gets done. I have broken warm-ups out because too many coaches
forget to warm the kids up, or worse yet don't think its necessary. (When my son was
seven years old he pulled a groin muscle in a soccer camp because they had the kids jump
into dribbling competitions without warming up first.) Even if you believe its not
physically necessary, they should get into the habit early so they don't hurt themselves
Warm-ups should start with some light running, jumping, and twisting. The idea is "to get
the blood flowing." After the muscles are warm they should be stretched, NOT before!
Cold muscles don't stretch, they snap. No bouncing, simply hold a stretched position for
about twenty seconds. There are numerous warm-up and stretching drills that are generic
and can be used for all sports. There are also drills that will target specific skills for a
particular sport. Intermix both types for variety. Somewhere between 10 to 15 minutes
should be allocated for warm-ups, which is a good reason why some of the drills need to
target specific skills.
With younger players you may be required to use only generic warm-up drills early in the
season. The skill specific warm-up drills should not be used until the players have been
taught and understand the correct way to perform the specific skill targeted by the drill.
The old saying 'practice makes perfect' is not correct. Perfect practice makes perfect,
imperfect practice makes imperfect. If you let your players warm-up using a sport
specific drill that they have not been taught, they are in all likelihood developing or
reinforcing bad habits. There are also some generic warm-up drills that more efficiently
develop skills than sport specific drills. The author is focusing on basketball, but I don't
know a single baseball coach that doesn't love speed on the base paths. We all know how
important speed is football and soccer. The point is these drills are appropriate for any
sport. And they will help develop muscle memory faster than any sport specific drill can.
Once your players know the correct way to perform a sport specific warm-up you should
intermix them with your generic warm-ups to kill two birds with one stone. I often use a
drill from the previous practice as a warm-up to help increase the repetitions.
The first three parts of this series were all leading up to this one. The Activities are the
part of the practice where the real work gets done. Most of your practice
time will be allocated to doing the drills associated with your particular sport.
This is the part of the practice where specific skills are developed. Offensive and
defensive schemes are developed. And most of the fun is to be had. Every practice should
include at least 10 to 15 minutes of scrimmage. The kids love it, and it’s the best way to
learn how to play. They can't learn to play the game without playing it. By allowing them
to scrimmage, you are allowing the kids to learn from each other. I have come to the
conclusion that kids can teach each other much better than we could ever hope to. If you
leave this for the end of the activities section you can let the kids earn the opportunity to
scrimmage. If during the introduction, you let the kids know what they are going to do
during the practice, you can remind them throughout the practice that the more they fool
around the less time they will have to scrimmage.
Pick one, at the most two, skills to concentrate on during a practice. Choose a set of
drills, five to ten minutes each in length, that build upon each other. For example when
teaching the younger players how to dribble a basketball I do the following.
1. I discuss why we dribble in basketball.
2. I demonstrate the position of the hand on the ball and movement of the arm.
3. The kids each get a ball and practice hitting the ball with their finger tips without
actually dribbling.
4. They then dribble the ball without moving, one hand then the other.
5. Then they dribble across the gym in a straight line.
6. If they are old enough and talented enough, we then do a weave dribble between
cones or folding chairs.
All 6 of these steps take no more than 10 minutes total. The next practice we will review
steps 1 through 3 and run steps 4 through 6. By the third practice all we will do is steps 4
though 6.
Again depending on talent you can begin to introduce new dribbling drills. Splitting the
players into teams and having races or other competitions is typically a big winner for
“fun.” You will need to introduce new drills to help keep the players interested, but don’t
be afraid to reuse a number of drills every practice. Once the players know how to run a
drill you can simply instruct them to run it by name. If every drill is new, you will spend
too much time teaching them how to run it. Which, of course, reduces the amount of time
they are actually working on a particular skill. It also helps to give your drills catchy
names so they can more easily be remembered. The drills should allow at least half of the
kids to be participating at the same time. You may need to recruit help, but if you can
give detailed instructions there will be other parents willing to help. Be creative. Any drill
can be turned into a game or a competition. Most kids in sports really have fun competing
especially when there is no parental pressure.
You should have some team competitions as well as individual competitions. The same
drills can be used for both if you are creative. For example, you can turn playing catch
into either type of competition. Partners play catch and score each other based on where
the ball is thrown. The thrower get 2 points if the ball is caught between the belt and
shoulders, 1 point if its caught outside of that area, and 0 points if its not catchable. The
first player or team of players to achieve a predetermined total wins. Or the player or
team with the most points after a predetermined amount of time wins. If you have extra
energy you can track progress by recording the results of these competitions throughout
the season. I know some coaches that will make a kid, or set of kids if that's what a drill
calls for, repeat a drill until "they get it right." I have found that this approach
embarrasses the kids and makes the other kids get bored waiting for their turn. (We all
know what happens when kids get bored.) I prefer to let the next kid, or group, go. Yell
encouragement to those who get it right. The kids will teach each other better then we
can. Consider making the scrimmage activity something less than a full team scrimmage.
In soccer for example, play two games of 3 on 3, or 4 on 4 instead of 7 on 7, or 9 on 9.
Try to set up as many games as possible to avoid substitutions. The smaller teams will
allow each player to exercise their skills more often.
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