While coaching young girls (5th and 6th grades) at the first practice I tell my kids that I expect two things out of them. One, I expect them to work hard and, two I expect them to have fun. I tell them if they don’t work hard I will let them know about it and if they are not having fun I expect them to let me know about it.

One drill that I use about every other practice is one I hope lets me know how they are improving and also to let me know if I am teaching them to improve.

I use 14 large plastic cones always set at the same location and use the entire court. They are set so that there is full court dribbling as well as in tight dribbling. (The majority of the girls have never played before.)

Motivation Prize
I then time them as they go through the drill and record their time. The next time we do the drill I will again time them to see if they are improving. At the end of the drill I give out a large teddy bear dressed in a school basketball uniform as a reward. The bear does not go to the fastest girl but to the girl who improved the most. That means that they are not competing against each other but rather against themselves. The bear is returned at each practice and on days when I don’t use that drill I have other means for awarding the bear.

I like to use drills that push the girls to the limit but still are fun to do. I never do a drill without a basketball being involved. Even when they come to the gym for practice the first thing they are to do is grab a basketball and do some laps around the court.

My job is to teach skills at this level and not to concentrate on strategy. I always felt that if the players were skillful enough and disciplined enough they could play through my mistakes. I do like to work a lot on defense and to keep offensive plays simple at this level. When they move up to the next level I hope they are ready.

I give all of the girls lots of playing time during the regular season and we try to win but that is not a priority, learning basketball for everyone is.

We do play to win in the final tournament at the end of the season.