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Basketball Practice Planning 101

Coach Pat Anderson, Online Basketball Drills

One of the biggest challenges beginning coaches face is determining how to structure practices. Thinking ahead and planning out the season are crucial to the success of the team and the personal growth of each player. Use this guide to establish a basketball practice plan that can be adapted throughout the season.


Begin each practice with individual warm-ups. Players should focus on the skills they need to develop the most, and coaches should provide as much individual attention as possible. Help players determine what they should work on and follow through to make sure they are using correct technique.

Cardiovascular Conditioning

For the next part of practice, players should work on basic skills while conditioning to improve endurance. Continuous motion lessons incorporate introductory moves, like ball handling skills, while constantly moving and keeping heart rate up. As the players' ability levels improve, increase the complexity and duration of the lesson. After the continuous motion lesson, players should be sufficiently warmed up to learn something new.

Individual Skills/New Lessons

When the season first begins, all lessons will be new to the players. Use this portion of practice to teach and develop individual skills like pivoting, dribbling, catching, passing, and cutting. Pivoting and dribbling should be given first priority because they are essential in learning more advanced offensive and defensive maneuvers. As the season continues, use this time to introduce new skills for the players to practice.

Shooting Technique

Players are eager to practice shooting. Focus on teaching proper shooting stance and technique. Remember that players will probably practice shooting on their own more than any other skill, so it is important for them to understand the basics.

Defense Drills and Skills

Follow the shooting portion of the practice with the defense portion. Shooting requires mental concentration but limited physical effort. Defense, on the other hand, demands a great deal of hustle and physical exertion. Teach players that defense is just as important as shooting when it comes to winning games.

Team Skills and Plays

Use this part of practice to teach your offensive and defensive sets. Incorporate different drills that emphasize communication between players and create a game-like scenario. Players should put the individual skills they have been developing to the test.

Layup Count Down

Layups are a great way to end practices for beginning players. They should work on shooting from the left, right, and center and count how many shots they make in a row. Players should cheer each other on and end practice on a positive note.

Cool Down

After everyone has completed their layups, conclude practice with a cool down session. While players are stretching and cooling off, remind them what they learned that day and inform them about future practices and games. Tell them what skills they should focus on at home until the next practice.

Next step: for a free youth basketball coaching video, including brand new drills for your team, visit this page now:


Coach Pat Anderson is the publisher of www.Online-Basketball-Drills.com, an excellent resource for youth basketball coaching tips, strategies and practice ideas.

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