35 Fun Basketball Drills To Try With Young Athletes

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Whether you’re a basketball coach, P.E. teacher, or parent of a budding player, having a set of basketball drills at your fingertips is a must. Good drills fine-tune the basketball fundamentals of dribbling, passing, and shooting. While most people are familiar with the classics like Horse and Knockout, they certainly aren’t the only drills to add to your rotation. In addition to perfecting your players’ shooting or dribbling technique, you’ll also want to work on teamwork and communication. Check out our list of the best basketball drills to try today. They’re equal parts fun and skill-building!

Basketball Shooting Drills

1. Around the World

This is a great drill because it works on receiving a pass and taking a shot in real time. The coach in this video does a great job explaining the ways in which this drill can be amended so that it can be used for different ability levels.

2. Horse

Horse is a classic basketball shooting game that can be played with as few as two people. If time is short, you can always play Pig instead. This shooting drill is a great way to work on shooting while also introducing some friendly competition.

3. Minute To Win It

Basketball shooting drills that focus on teamwork are definitely some of our favorites! First, divide players into two even lines and have them start on the two elbows of the foul line. During the game, both lines shoot, rebound, and pass to the next player in line. The team with the most baskets made at the end of one minute is declared the winner!

4. Knockout

Knockout is a staple of gym class and basketball practice since it is the perfect combination of instructional and fun. We especially love that it works on rebounding, shooting foul shots, and even layups. The first player in line shoots a foul shot and if they make it, they pass it to the next player in line. If they miss, they have to hurry and make a shot from anywhere on the court before the player behind them in line sinks their own shot.

5. Pianos (1:48)

Make this simple drill more fun by timing kids and having them compete against one another to see who can complete the most pianos in the time allotted. The best part is kids will learn how to use their hips for force while also having a lot of fun.

6. Square-Up Shooting

The concept of squaring up is an important one for young basketball players to grasp. This drill reinforces that while also encouraging good passing.

Basketball Dribbling Drills

7. Stationary Handle Drill

Before beginning, make sure that everyone has an appropriately sized basketball. You’ll also want to make sure all of your players understand the different commands like “pound” and “kill.” This type of stationary drill is perfect for teaching beginners to maintain control while also keeping their eyes up.

8. Pac-Man

This is a basketball take on a retro video game. Designate a few players to act as ghosts while the rest of the players act as Pac-men. The Pac-men are the dribblers and must stick to the lines on the court, whether that be the foul line, the baseline, or other. The ghosts begin on the baseline and then begin trying to tag the dribblers.

9. Gimme Five

Dribbling drills should work on coordination and agility, like this one in which players must high-five their teammates while maintaining their dribble. This is a great drill to play during the first few practices since teammates can get to know one another by saying their teammates’ names as they high-five.

10. Snake

Basketball drills need to teach fundamentals like dribbling, but the best ones also focus on teamwork and coordination. Before playing, decide who will be the snake. That player must try to tag players who are dribbling around them. Once tagged, that person joins the snake and they continue trying to tag players. This drill works on communication and teamwork since as the snake gets longer, players must talk to one another about where to go and when.

11. Pattern Dribbling

This drill helps young players know their way around the court while emphasizing dribbling and ball control. The coach calls out different parts of the court like foul line, sideline, and baseline while players race to the area with their balls.

Basketball Passing Drills

12. Pass the Rock

Basketball passing drills like Pass the Rock emphasize making good passes with eye contact while acting quickly. Half the players stand around the three-point line and half stand in the paint. The players in the paint must make and receive as many passes as possible in a predetermined amount of time.

13. Passing Tag

We love that this passing drill focuses on pivoting since it is such an important basketball skill to have. Teaching players about their pivot foot can be tedious, so this game makes it fun!

14. Basketball Tennis

What’s better than practicing a favorite sport? How about combining two of your favorite sports into one effective drill? This drill mimics a real game situation since it requires that players work on catching not-so-perfect passes.

15. Different Types of Passing

While learning different types of passes as well as the proper way to execute those passes can be tedious, it is also necessary. Teach your players to pass with both hands as they practice chest passes, bounce passes, overhead passes, and wraparound. As they get better with those basic passes, introduce more-advanced passes like baseball, behind the back, hook, and pocket passes.

Basketball Warmup Drills

16. Pass, Fake & Drive Drill

Odds are if you’ve ever played youth basketball, your coach probably had you do the standard pass and layup drill before the game. We like that this simple variation teaches kids an easy yet effective move to get around a defender and drive to the paint.

17. Dynamic Warmup

Basketball warmup drills that are straightforward like this one are the perfect thing to do before your game gets underway. Start with jogging, then work your way up to high knees and other forms of movement.

18. Dribbling/Shot Variations

This warmup drill would be best for middle school or high school players since it incorporates some more-complicated types of dribbling. Setup and cleanup are minimal since all you’ll need to do it is a few cones.

19. Stop & Start

Who remembers the famous scene from Hoosiers when Gene Hackman makes his team practice without a ball? This warmup series reminds us of that since it utilizes a lot of different movements without a ball.

Basketball Defense Drills

20. 3-Touch Defensive Drill

The best basketball defense drills work on footwork, reaction time, stance, and speed. This drill combines all of those things while also serving to make your team the best conditioned on the court at all times.

21. Help the Helper

The best basketball drills relate back to real-life game scenarios. In this drill, players learn about help defense so they know what to do if their teammate gets beat in a game.

22. Zigzag Defense

Defense wins games, so it is vital to work on the basics, like a strong defensive stance. This drill teaches players to shuffle while tracking their opponent. The player with the ball dribbles in a zigzag pattern while the defender follows along.

23. 3-Second Box-Out Drill

This is a fun way to teach kids the basics of boxing out. Set basketballs on cones and then put two kids behind each basketball. The player in the back needs to try to get to the basketball while the player in the front boxes them out to prevent them from getting it.

Basketball Cone Drills

24. Gates Dribbling

Before playing, you will need to make gates all over the court by setting out cones about a foot and a half apart. Each player must try to dribble through as many gates as possible before time runs out. (This drill can be played in soccer as well.)

25. Builders & Bulldozers

Basketball cone drills like this one really force players to work on multiple skills at once, like agility, coordination, and dribbling. Before playing, divide the players into two teams with one team being the bulldozers and the other being the builders. Lay cones out around the court, with half of them upright and half of them laying flat. Builders need to put as many cones upright as possible in the allotted time, while bulldozers need to knock them down.

26. Cone Dribbling

Basketball cone drills use a simple piece of equipment to teach valuable skills. In this drill, the cones simulate defenders so players can work on dribbling around them. Players are encouraged to make sure they aren’t carrying the ball as they work on crossover dribbling and other skills.

Basketball Drills for Beginners

27. Layups

Layups are an important move to master in basketball, so teaching this skill to beginners is of the utmost importance. This video shows how to teach a layup as a progression in which players start without a ball. It also demonstrates some different variations of a basic layup that can be introduced as players gain skill and competence.

28. Obstacle Course

Basketball drills for beginners should be fun while including the fundamentals of basketball like dribbling, passing, and shooting. Obstacle courses are a great way to incorporate those elements in a way that is fun for newbies.

29. Rob the Nest

Besides being totally fun, Rob the Nest is versatile since it can be changed to work on different kinds of dribbling and passing. Beginner players will be gaining valuable skills while having a blast in the process. Divide players into four teams and then send them into different corners that will act as their “nests.” Place a large pile of basketballs in the middle, which will serve as the draw pile for players. Once all of the basketballs have been taken from the middle, players can steal basketballs from an opposing team’s nest, hence the name of the game!

30. B.E.E.F. Shooting

This funny acronym will definitely help beginner players remember the proper shooting technique: balance, elbows, eyes, follow-through.

31. Partner Passing

Have partners break off into pairs and then stand back-to-back. You will want one small basketball between each pair. This drill is perfect for beginners in the 4-to-7-year-old range. Simply have them practice handing the ball back and forth from the sides and then over their head and through their legs.

Basketball Drills To Teach Plays

32. 3-on-3 Play Development

This video shows how playing 3 v. 3 can mirror game situations. There are a lot of variations and plays that can be taught while practicing with fewer players. Plays include pass-and-cut and screens.

33. Smoke Stack

This is a very basic inbounding play that can be effective, especially for younger players. Simply have four players stand in line, being careful not to have them line up too close to the out-of-bounds line. The third person in the line back-screens for the top person. The first two people in line split and go to either corner or wing.

34. Defense Switch

While this video advertises these plays as being for grade 1, we think they would work well for any beginning basketball player. If you want to learn a simple screen play, go to 1:15 in the video above. In it, the speaker explains that the intention of the play is to force the defenders to switch, which causes a mismatch of guards covering post players.

35. Full-Court Press Break

This video instructs how to beat a full-court press. The simplest of these methods is to have players one and two cross positions as a third player inbounds the ball. Options available to the offense once the defenders press are also explained.

What are your favorite basketball drills to play with your team? Come and share in our We Are Teachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, check out our favorite old-school recess games for the classroom.

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