One of the things I’ve found in almost 20 years of teaching and coaching youth basketball is that shooting the basketball often gets in the way of teaching inexperienced youth players the other fine points to the game.

It is hard to teach when every kid wants to just throw the ball at the hoop as soon as he touches it–so no one learns how to get open, how to pass, proper spacing and how to receive a pass.

So I came up with a fun “game” to play where the object is completed passes–almost a game of keep away.

Completed Passes Game

1. Designate a parent as scorekeeper.
2. Divide the kids of evenly with your fastest most aggressive players guarding each other, big on big, etc.
3. Both teams must play man to man staying between their man and the basket.
4. Each team gets one point for each completed pass–except they get a bonus point for each pass completed to a man in the key.
5. Each team can also get a point for a player dribbling into the key and stopping with a correct two-footed jump stop – BUT in any individual possession a man cannot dribble more than two dribbles (this prevents any one from just dribbling around and ignoring the other players).  Three dribbles is a violation and a turnover.
6. A team can also get a 3-point bonus if each player on the team has received at least one pass. (get everyone involved!)
7. All normal violations are called: traveling, double dribble, 3-second in the key, 5-second, etc.
8. If one team steals the ball they take over right there.  On a violation the other team gets the ball at the FT line.
9. Hand off passes are not allowed and are a violation and turnover.

With very young kids we will also implement a rule where, after each pass, they must go touch a sideline with one foot before coming back to receive another pass (thereby reinforcing go away and cut back to the ball to get open).

Of course we have already taught the kids how to dribble, pivot, jump stop, different passes, spacing, cutting to get open, etc.  Now they must use all of those things to try and keep the ball moving.

What you will find is that the kids learn very quickly to pass quickly before the defense can react and before you know it they will be looking for that open teammate much quicker.

You also start to train kids on traveling, pivoting out of trouble, cutting to the ball, sealing the defender to receive a pass – without the kids focused on shooting alone.

You will be amazed in the game how much better your team sees the floor and moves without the ball after using this drill a few times.

Got a basketball coaching tip, drill, or idea you’d like to share with our community? Leave it in the comments box below and I’ll approve it within a day or two. And don’t forget to read my latest article on kids basketball drills.