Youth Practice Structure
Basketball practices for children under the age of 12 should emphasize development of a strong athletic base (a good athlete can move in all directions, quickly, smoothly, and on balance). Agility, balance, coordination, and speed are most receptive to training – the ABC’S.
At the novice level (ages 6 to 9), fundamental drills should be supplemented by small-sided/modified games such as 3 on 3. Atom players (10-11) can be introduced to 4 on 4 and 5 on 5.
A generic practice plan should try to cover
- motor skills & footwork
- advantage situations (e.g. 2 on 1, 3 on 2)
- other small-sided games (1 on 1, 2 on 2, 3 on 3)
- defending on the ball (then off the ball)
- offensive concepts, e.g. give and go, spacing
- transition situations.
See Steve Nash Youth Basketball (Coaches Manual) and WABC Mini-Basketball Coaches Manual, including modified rules, e.g.,
- "no grab" rule - defenders can't grab the ball from ballhandlers, but can steal passes in the air [progressions - no ball pressure, no steals]
- a shot made after 5 passes is worth 3 points
- an offensive rebounder must pass to a teammate outside the paint before a shot can be taken
- no double teams.
Also see Youth dynamic warm-up, Favourite drills for kids, Skills checklist for novice players, Coaches handbook.
For other ideas on youth practice plans, see
For ready-made lesson plans and drills, see
- Mega Hoops
- SNYB - FUNdamentals, Learn to Train
- Jr. NBA
- Canada - ages 5-7 (Rookie)
- U.S. - Rookie to MVP (4 age groups)