When it comes to kids basketball drills, fun is the name of the game! If you’re working with kids under 10, it’s extremely important to avoid the three deadly L’s – lines, laps, and lectures.
That’s why coaches developed the “games approach” to practice. A philosophy of practice where instead of ‘drills’, we have players work through fun, challenging games that work on both their technical AND tactical skills.
In other words, they don’t just learn to dribble, shoot, and pass – they learn how to use those skills against a live opponent in a real game situation.
Below, you’ll find our Top 5 Basketball Drills for Kids. Each one is modeled after an already-popular kids game, then tweaked a bit to help develop a fundamental basketball skill.
For best results, try to at least one or two assistant coaches, parents, or other helpers present during practice. An adult to child ratio of 3:1 is ideal.
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#5. Sharks and Minnows
Tag is a classic playground game for a reason! In this kids basketball drill, we incorporate dribbling, forcing players to work on ball handling, speed, agility, control and spatial awareness.
- Pick two players to be ‘sharks’ starting at the halfcourt line.
- The rest of the team - the ‘minnows’ will be spread out on the baseline.
- All the minnows have basketballs.
- On ‘go’ the minnows will all attempt to dribble from one end to the other while the sharks try to knock their balls away.
- If a player has their ball knocked away by a shark, they join the shark team.
- The players will reset and then attempt to go end to end once again, continuing until all players have become sharks.
Remind the minnows to keep their heads up - the most successful players will be those who can dribble with speed, control, all while keeping their eyes on the sharks!
Make it harder: To give a bigger challenge to the sharks, have them chase the minnows around the court while dribbling. You could also make the minnows dribble two balls to really challenge their ballhandling.
Make it easier: If the sharks are having a hard time, you can add an extra shark to start the game. If the minnows are struggling, cutting the distance they need to travel down to the halfcourt line can help.
#4. Home Run
A fun, fast-paced basketball drill for kids - works on shooting free throws under pressure and high-speed ballhandling.
- Divide the team into two groups, and have them form two lines - the shooting team at the free throw line with two balls, and the dribbling team where the sideline meets baseline, each with their own ball.
- The dribbling team will be acting as ‘baserunners’, while the shooting team is trying to get them ‘out’ by hitting a jumpshot.
- On the coach’s signal, the dribbler will dribble out to halfcourt and down the opposite sideline, trying to get back to ‘home’ as fast as they can.
- If a player makes it all the way around before the shooter can make a jumpshot, they get 1 point.
- If the shooter scores while they’re still running, they are ‘out’ and must sit out until their entire team is out and the teams swap roles.
- Each shooter will take one shot and collect their rebound before heading to the back of the line.
Play around with different spots for the shooting team - the key is find a spot challenging enough based on their skill level that you can have a competitive game You’ll also want to make sure the shooting team is calling out loudly and clearly ‘FREEZE’ on a made shot.
Make it harder: Give the running team only 3 outs before they need to swap sides and go on defense. Also - challenge the dribbling team to dribble exclusively with their weak hand, or to work on certain moves at each line intersection.
Make it easier: Give the shooting team two balls so that they can get more shot attempts up quickly.
#3. All Star Shootout
A competitive ‘all-star weekend’ type shooting game, where players work on shooting in a fun environment.
- Divide the team into two groups, and have them get into lines on opposite baselines.
- Place cones or some kind of marker at 6-8 different locations on the court.
- Each team will need one ball.
- On the coach’s signal, the first player in line will run out to one of the spots and take a shot.
- On a make, they grab that cone, their rebound, and bring them back to the line.
- On a miss, they grab the rebound and return to the back of the line.
- The first team to successfully make a shot from every spot and bring all the cones back to their team, wins!
It’s important that you choose the spots wisely - focus on high percentage shots - you want to reinforce that these are high quality looks that players should be knocking down at a high percentage.
Make it harder: If you’ve got an older or more skilled team, you can work exclusively on 3 point shots, even incorporating some deeper range 3 point shots as well.
Make it easier: For younger players, you’ll want to move the spots much closer - in the 15 foot range, with a couple even closer to the hoop as well.
A physical, competitive basketball drill for kids - where success will come down to effort, toughness, and whoever wants it more.
- Split the team into two lines and have them setup on the baseline.
- Stand in the middle of the paint with a basketball.
- When ready, roll the ball out towards the 3 point line.
- The first player to corral the ball is on offense, with the other player on defense.
- The offense will then try to score.
- On a made or missed shot or a steal, the drill is over, and the next two players step up in line.
Be safe! While we want players to go hard, they still need to be aware of their teammate and make sure they are not diving out of control.
Make it harder: To really challenge players, force them to win a loose ball to get off the court - otherwise they stay on, and must keep going against new teammates until they can secure a loose ball.
Make it easier: To make the drill slightly easier, you can allow the offense to check the ball to the defense and start from there, rather than just wherever they win the ball. You can also have the defense play with their hands in their shorts pockets to allow more freedom of movement for the ballhandler.
A fun spin on classic 1 on 1 matchups, incorporating reaction time and developing a players’ ability to perform under pressure.
- Have the players get in a line and assign each player a number.
- Have the even numbers line up on one sideline, and the odd numbers line up on the opposite side.
- The coach will stand right in the middle of the court with a basketball.
- Assign one basket for each team.
- Call out an even number and an odd number and lob the ball up into the middle of the court.
- Those two players will then break for the ball, with the first player to get the ball on offense.
- The offensive player tries to score on his team’s basket.
- The players will then play one on one, with the round ending when one of the players has scored.
Try to make the matchups as even as possible in terms of size and skill. Also, try to throw the ball to one side or the other to give one player an advantage - otherwise you will end up with some big collisions if it’s a real 50/50 ball.
Make it harder: You can also have games of 2 on 2 or 3 on 3 - just call out the numbers and have the players play to 3 points for the win.
Make it easier: Wait an extra beat or two before throwing the ball out, giving the players a little more time to react and set up on defense and offense.
More Fun Basketball Drills for Kids
- Loose Ball Scramble, Happy Handful Relays
- Shoot the Distance, Musical Basketballs
- Follow the Leader, Dribble Limbo
- Silly Speed Relays, 3 Legged Basketball
- Dizzy Dribble Relays
- Red Light Green Light, Simon Says
- Crazy Conditioning Relays
- Monkey in the Middle, Crazy H-O-R-S-E
- Candy Cane Knockout, Jingle Bell Grab
- Fun Relay Drills for Kids
Need help teaching the fundamentals of the game? Try our beginner basketball drills for some inspiration.