by Kevin Veit
St. Dismas Girls Coach
- Basketball is an Ambidextrous, One-Hand Sport
Players must be able to use either hand to dribble or pass, but only
ONE hand should be used at a time. You should dribble with one hand,
pass with one hand, and shoot with one hand.
- Basketball is a Game of Fundamentals
For all players, but especially beginners, success will depend on
learning the fundamentals - correct positions, form, etc. Each skill
builds on previous one.
- Emphasize Correct Form on All Drills
It is more important to use the correct form than to worry about
immediate success. The player who is shooting with good one-hand
shooting form from 5 feet away in 2nd grade will become a better
shooter than the player who can heave a two-handed shot from 15 feet.
- Let Your Players Succeed
Progress through the drills slowly so that the players are successful
most of the time. This will build their confidence and make sure the
base skills are learned correctly. For example, work on dribbling
while walking slowly before trying to have a relay race. When
shooting, have the players make a lot of close shots before allowing
them to shoot from farther away.
- Keep the Players Busy
Players will only develop by practicing the skills. Try to have the
players always doing something. Split the players into smaller
groups, have some pass while others shoot, use more basketballs, etc.
Try to never have players standing around or waiting in line for their
- Have a Written Practice Plan
Before each practice, prepare a plan of the drills and the amount of
time you will spend on each one. By doing this, you will save time
during your practice, look more organized, and make sure you are
covering all of the skills.
- Have Fun!
Don't take any of this too seriously. The players are trying to
learn, but don't expect them to be perfect. Find out which drills and
games the players like to do, and do more of them.
Basketball requires precise footwork, both to avoid travelling
violations and to gain an advantage when moving to get open to go to
Defensive Position - Knees bent, head up, one hand and foot
slightly forward (normally the right foot and right hand).
Triple-Threat Position - Offensive position from which a player can
either dribble, pass, or shoot. The ball should be to the side with a
one-hand shooting grip. Knees should be bent, with the right foot
forward (for right hand players).
Pivoting - Right handed players should be taught to pivot on the
left foot. Left handers should pivot on the right foot. Don't teach
pivoting on the other foot, it is not necessary and will just confuse
the players. Keep the toes of the left foot on the ground while
stepping and turning with the right foot.
Jump Stop - This is a very important skill to be able to stop
dribbling without travelling. The player should land on both feet in
a triple-threat position.
Triple-Threat Position #1 - Hold the ball while in the position.
Coach checks each player for correct positioning.
Triple-Threat Position #2 - Get in the position with the ball.
Coach will tell the players to either pivot, do a shot fake, or do a
1, 2, 3, Stop! - This can be done without the ball to teach the
jump stop. Each player walks or jogs three steps, then comes to a
jump stop. Continue down the court.
Defensive Slide - Line the players up across the court. Players
get in a good defensive position. On the coach's signal, the players
slide to the right or to the left.
Players must be able to dribble with either hand. Do all drills
with left hand also.
The ball should always be outside of the body when dribbling. This
does the following: - Prevents the player from bouncing ball off of
knee or foot. - Prevents player from dribbling with two hands
(double dribble). - Puts the player's body between the defense and
Push the ball HARD when you dribble. Use a pumping motion with the
upper arm, like pumping water from a well. This will strengthen the
arms, wrists, and fingers and make the ball harder to steal.
There are two types of dribbling - Low Protective Dribble and High
Low Protective Dribble - The knees should be bent, the opposite arm
out some to ward off the defense, and the ball should be dribbled low
High Speed Dribble - The ball should be pushed in front as the
player runs downcourt, making sure to keep the ball outside of the
body to avoid bouncing off of the knee or foot.
Jump Stop - The player must be able to stop dribbling without
travelling. The best way is to come to a jump stop, landing with both
feet in a crouch to stop the forward momemtum.
Stationary Dribble - Get in a dribbling position, knees slightly bent,
head up. Dribble the ball with one hand, on the side of the body.
Push the ball hard. Try to make a loud rat-tat-tat machine gun
sound by dribbling hard off the floor.
Keep the ball outside the body. This can be done by having the
player stand on one side of a line and dribble the ball on the other
Look forward when you dribble. This can be done by having the
players watch the coach, who signals with his hands when to change
to the left hand.
Practice equally with left and right hands, as in all dribbling
Walking Dribbling - Same as the Stationary Dribble, but walk forward
as you dribble. The players could follow a line around the court,
walking on one side and dribbling on the other.
Sitting Dribbling - Have the players sit in a cross-legged position.
Then dribble with one hand to the outside of the body, trying to push
the ball hard. These drill teaches the following:
- Keeping the ball to the outside of the body
- Pushing hard with the arm.
1, 2, 3, Stop! Drill - This drill teaches coming to a jump stop
position after dribbling. Line the players up across the court. Have
the dribble three dribbles while walking or running slowly. Then they
should catch the ball while coming to a jump stop, triple-threat
position. Then dribble three more, dribbles, come to a stop, and
repeat this the rest of the way down the
Red Light, Green Light - This is similar to the 1, 2, 3, Stop!
drill, except that the players watch the coach. When the coach has
his arms down, the players can dribble down the court. When the coach
raises his arms, the players must stop dribbling and come to a jump
stop. Players who don't stop, lose the ball, or travel must go back
to the farthest back position. Continue until the players have gone
all the way done the court. Repeat with the left hand.
Bumper Ball - This game teaches the low protective dribble. Each
player has a ball. Designate a small area for the players to dribble
in. The object is to keep dribbling while trying to knock the other
players ball away from them. If you lose your ball or go out of the
area, you're out of the game. Last player in loses. the
Dribble Tag - Use a slightly larger area than for Bumper Ball. All
the players dribble a ball. One of the players is IT, and tries to
tag another player while still dribbling. No tag-backs.
Full-Court Relay Race - This teaches the high-speed dribble. Divide
into two teams and line them up at one end of the court. The first
player for each team dribbles down the court with the left hand, then
back with the right hand, and then hands the ball to the next player
in line. Repeat this until every player has gone several times.
Players must pass with ONE hand. This will allow them to get the pass
around the defense and will teach the same motions as shooting.
Teach two types of passes - One Hand Push Pass and One Hand Bounce Pass.
One Hand Push Pass
- Start in the triple-threat position, with the right foot forward.
- Put the right hand behind the ball, with the left hand on the side.
- Line the laces up cross-wise, so you can watch the spin on the ball.
- Push the ball with the right hand, while letting go with the left.
- The ball should go forward in a straight line, and spin backwards.
- When passing with the left hand, the left foot should be forward.
One Hand Bound Pass - Same as the One-Hand Push Pass, but the ball
should be bounced about 2/3 of the distance to the other player so it
bounce up to the player's waist.
Push the ball hard when you pass. This will strengthen the arms and
fingers and make the pass harder to steal.
Partner Passing - One Ball - Line each player up across from a
partner. Practice the One-Hand Push Pass and One-Hand Bounce Pass.
Count as you pass and do the following:
- 20 Right Hand Push Pass
- 20 Left Hand Push Pass
- 20 Right Hand Bounce Pass
- 20 Left Hand Push Pass
Partner Passing - Two Balls - Same as the Partner Passing - One Ball,
except that each player has a ball. They pass the balls to each other
at the same time. The balls should be passed to the outside so that
they don't hit each other.
Monkey-In-The-Middle - 2 players pass the ball to each other using a
bounce pass, while a third player in the middle trys to block the pass
from the passer. After 5 passes or if the middle player steals the
ball, switch positions.
Shooting must be done with ONE hand. If the player isn't strong
enough, get closer to the basket and use a lower basket. The One-Hand
Shot is the only way to develop a consistent shot and be able to shoot
with defensive pressure as the player gets older.
Have the players get in the habit of lining up the laces before they
should. This will allow them to see if they are getting the correct
spin on the ball.
When practicing shooting, a player should be making at least half of
the shots. If not, move closer until the player is. It is much
better to make 20 close shots in practice using correct form than it
is to heave the ball and miss 20 times from half court. You want the
players to get used to success, to expect that they will make every
When shooting close shots from the side, use a bank shot.
When shooting in front of the basket or from farther away, use a swish
shot. This is more consistent.
Shooting Position - The right foot should be forward, the ball to the
side with the right hand behind it and the left hand on the side of
Power - To get more power for longer shots, bend and use the legs and
hold the ball a little lower to use more arm action. All shots should
still be with one hand, no matter how far.
Partner Shooting - Line the players up from each other like in the
partner passing. Have them shoot the ball to each other, using
correct form - right foot forward, right hand behind the ball, laces
Partner Shooting - One Hand Only - Have the players hold ball in
shooting position, then take away the left hand. Balance the ball
with one hand, then shoot the ball to the partner. This teaches the
correct position to hold the ball when shooting. If the ball rolls
out of the one hand, then it wasn't in the right position.
Basket Shooting - One Hand Only - Stand directly in front of the
basket. Hold the ball in the shooting position. Take the left hand
away, balance the ball, and then shoot. Try to get the
correct backspin and make a swish shot. It is ok to bend the arm and
legs for more power.
Basket Shooting - Normal - Practice shooting from three spots -Bank
shots close to the basket from each side, and swish shots directly in
front of the basket. Have a rebounder get the ball back to the
shooter quickly, so a lot of shots can be taken in a short amount of