kids basketball drills

One of the most common issues kids basketball coaches face is how to introduce drills that are fun, keep players interested and increase practice intensity. Below are two of my favorite competitive drills. Each one of these drills is simple to learn and easy to teach. Try them out and let me know what you think by leaving a comment below!

The Alabama Rebounding Drill

The purpose of this drill is to practice rebounding and finishing strong around the basket. The more physical it gets, the better. This one is great for teaching your kids to play through contact and score despite getting fouled.

To set up, the coach stands at the wing, just inside the three point line. Two rebounding players lie down flat on their stomachs underneath the basket. (see the diagram below)

Alabama rebounding drill

The coach at the wing takes a shot, and everybody else on the team yells out “Shot!” At that point, both rebounders scramble to their feet and battle to get to the ball first. Even if the shot goes in, the rebounders get after the ball and play it as a miss.

There are no fouls in this drill, and players are encouraged to fight aggressively (but safely) to get possession of the ball. Whichever player gets the rebound is on offense, and the other player is on defense. The players battle it out until one of them scores. Again, they are allowed to “body up” and play physically. After each sequence, rotate the players through each spot on the floor.

To make this one even more competitive, split your team into two groups and send one member of each group as a rebounder for each sequence. The team that scores 5 baskets first is the winner.

Coaching Points:

Rebounders should go up strong for the ball and pull it down with two hands (rather than trying to tip it in). Make sure that any physical play is safe – no undercutting, pushing, elbowing, or tripping allowed. You want the players to bump each other with their bodies and box out aggressively, but not do anything to injure one another.

Kentucky Layup Drill (For Kids Basketball)

Another one of my favorite kids basketball drills is called “Kentucky Layups” This really helps your kids focus on finishing layups, even when they’re dead tired. Great for conditioning and mental focus.

To set it up,“  divide the players in half and have one group stand under the basket at one end of the floor and the other group stand under the basket at the other end of the floor. There will also be a coach standing at each end at the elbow. (see the diagram below)

Kentucky Layups Drill

The player at the front of each line will have a ball. On the coach’s whistle the first players will step-up and throw the ball against the backboard, rebound the ball, and pass it to the coach. The player will then begin to sprint up the floor.

The coach will return the pass to the player with at around the 3-point line. The player will catch the ball and dribble down the court at full speed. The two players should pass each other and go all the way down and attempt a layup.

If the layup is made then the team shouts out one, two, and so on. The next player rebounds the make or miss and then repeats the drill.

This drill is usually run continuously for three minutes. A coach can give a goal for the number of layups that needs to be made. If the goal isn’t reached then the team can repeat the drill or run sprints.

Coaching Points:

Another variation is to set a goal for continuous layups made. So the team must make 10 layups in a row or run sprints. It’s tougher than it seems, even for experienced teams. You’ll notice that the players will tighten up as they approach the goal number, and start to miss shots they normally would make. Over time, they get more and more fatigued, and it becomes harder and harder to make the layups.

With younger kids basketball teams, set the goal low, and work it upwards as they become more confident with the drill.

Next step: for our latest practice ideas and tips, check out our main “How to Coach Basketball”“ page.

Or, if you need fresh ideas for your next practice, head over to our complete directory of youth basketball drills, covering shooting, passing, rebounding, defense and ballhandling.