BEGINNING BASKETBALL: A PARENT'S GUIDE
by Kevin Veit, St. Dismas Girls Coach
Behind every good basketball player is a an involved parent.
Organized practices alone do not provide enough time to develop good
basketball skills. It takes a lot of practice. Spend some time with
your child and have fun. As your child grows older, she will remember
the time you spent with her.
HOW YOU CAN HELP YOUR CHILD
Learn About Basketball - Come to the practices and see what your
child is learning. Then practice these skills on your own to
reinforce the skills.
Get a Basketball - A player should have his/her own basketball at
home, even if you don't have a basket to shoot at. A rubber
basketball that costs about $10 is sufficient. If your child is in
kindergarten or 1st grade, you may want to get a junior-sized
basketball, like we use in the training clinic. If your child is in
2nd grade or above, you should get a women's size basketball. Even
the boys will use this size until 6th grade.
Play Catch with Your Child - Passing and catching are very
important skills. Use the correct form when passing, but try to make
a game of it. You can pass to each other sitting down in the
basement. Try counting to see how many passes in a row you can make
without dropping any. For a variation, and to help your child with
multiplication tables, try counting by 2s, 3s, etc. (e.g. 2,4,6,8 or
Encourage Dribbling - The child who is a good dribbler will be the
one with the confidence to handle the ball when they start playing
games. Have your child work on dribbling as much as possible,
remembering the key points: keep the ball to outside of body, push
hard, keep head up, and work on the left hand. Let your child dribble
in the basement, on the driveway, etc. Set up an obstacle course for
your child to dribble around. Work with your child to dribble the
ball while you try to steal it. Start easy, and then work harder.
Rebound for Your Child - If you have a basket to shoot at, rebound
while your child shoots. If you don't have a basket, GET ONE! Daily
shooting practice can make a good player into a great player. Have
your child take a lot of shots up close and from the same spot to
develop success. You should aim to make at least half of your shots
when practicing shooting. If you aren't, then move closer to the
Have your Child Succeed - Work on skills gradually, so that your
child is challenged, but can be successful. Work on shooting close
shots before working on farther ones. Being successful will encourage
the child to want to play more.
A QUICK GUIDE TO BASKETBALL SKILLS
Basketball players must be able to use either hand. 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 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.
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 the ball.
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.
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
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 the straight line, and spin backwards.
One Hand Bounce 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.
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
Practice a straight shot (i.e. no backboard). This develops a more
consistent shot with a softer touch.
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 the ball.
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.