One of the biggest challenge I am facing, despite the short attention span of the 8 and 9 year olds, is two of the players have autism. Each one has a different quirk. What I have found is to plan my practices in advance down to the minute from start to finish, but limiting each exercise/drill to 10 or 15 minutes each, and most importantly participating in the drills with the kids.
Coaching Technique – Planning and Participating
Working with young kids focusing on the basics when all they want to do is shoot baskets and chase after each other, by demonstrating then participating in each drill with the kids keeps them interested and focused. Here is a drill I used for teaching them the proper form for dribbling the ball and it really worked well even with my autistic kids.
Have everyone line up in two lines behind the free-throw line at one end of the court.
The first kid in each line has the ball facing the coach while the coach is in a defensive stance; have the child slightly bend his knees, feet shoulder width apart, hold his left arm at waist level elbow bent with hand crossing in front of him.
Tell the child to look the coach in the eyes, bending their right arm at a 90 degree angle so the forearm is parallel to the floor then bending the hand to dribble the ball.
Then the child slowly walks down the court, coach reminding them to look into his eyes, feeling the ball with their fingers bending the wrist downward to dribble the ball as they walk, I told them like swatting a fly with a fly swatter.
This worked well with the kids staying focused of what/who was in front of them as they moved the ball the court building their confidence in their ability to dribble the ball down the court.
They dribble down to the end of the court then turn around and return back to the starting position. When they got within six feet of the starting line I told them pass the ball to the next person in line ensuring they follow proper technique for passing.
I ran this drill after doing two different passing drills focusing on technique. The kids actually got excited and by the end of 15 minutes of doing the drill, the kids showed improvement in their ability to dribble down the court.