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Basketball Coaching and Playing Tips
by Geoff Shurtleff

Basketball Playing Tips
Know What's Going On
The Score, fouls
Study Your Opponent
Right Handed or Left Handed
Do they Like to Drive
Type of Defense they are In
Who is Hot
Offensive Plays
Eye Contact
Crisp Two Handed Pass
Pass to Target - Outside shoulder
Step to Receive
Lay - Ups They are not easy
Off The Back Board
Jump off the Left Foot for a Right Handed lay-up, Vice Versa
Jump Shot, (One Handed)
Elbow In
Release Ball Up - Not Out
Wrist - Finger Flip with fore finger being last to touch the ball
Eyes on the Spot over the Front of the Rim
Be ready to rebound and Thank the passer when you score.
Block-Out (Between Man & Basket)
Flex Knees
Eye On Ball
Long Rebounds on 3 point attempts
Remember the ball will more likely bounce back toward the shooter.
Push Ball with fingers
Head Up
Lower Dribble When Closely Guarded
Body Between Defender and Ball
Use Both Hands
Elbow Close to Body
Eye On the Ball
Don't Force Shots or Passes
Shoot if Open
Put Offensive Rebound Back Up
Get Back Fast on Turnovers
Eye on the Ball
Between Man and Basket
Never Rest on Defense
Hands Up
Watch the Hips
Slide, Don't Cross Legs
Be Aggressive, Go For Steals

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Basketball Coaching Tips

Rebound Drill

Do you have a tall kid who gets a bunch of offensive rebounds and just can't seem to put the ball back into the hoop. Try this drill. Two people at a basket a shooter about foul line and the other kid in front of the hoop. Tell the shooter to shoot the ball and try to miss, have the underneath kid rebound the ball and put it back into the basket. (This drill paid immediate dividends)

Dribble Tag

Everyone dribbles a ball and they play tag, must be in control of ball when tagging someone, you may want to limit the area of play.

Knock Away

Everyone is in a confined area of the gym, everyone has a ball ready to dribble, when I say go everyone must dribble while at the same time trying to knock the ball out of the other players hand. Players who go outside the zone, have their ball knock away or is not aggressive enough is out of the game. (Thanks to kennedyb)


Divide into two groups for full court races, i.e. dribble down right handed and back left hand. Dribble down backwards, and back frontwards. Dribble down and shoot till you make a basket, or shoot once and keep track of points.


During a the scrimmage I would start counting down from 10 (10-9-8-7-6 ...) Giving the players an idea what the end of a quarter is like, it cut down on the those wild half court shots with 5 seconds to go.

Freeze Scrimmage

Kids love to scrimmage and coaches try to coach with drills. I would do freeze scrimmage, I would blow the whistle and everyone was to freeze right where they are. I would explain who was out of position, missed a open person or someone was doing something right.

Trading cards

I would go down to the local card store and buy a box of basketball trading cards, I would have contests and use the cards as prices. I would very the contest so ever one would have a chance to win. i.e. Foul shooting, lay up contest, team races.

3 x 5 Cards

I would copy drills, plays or defenses down on a 3 x5 card sort them in the order I wanted to do them and put them in my back pocket, thus I had a practice plan.

Practice Jerseys

Check the local thrift stores i.e. Goodwill, I was able to find 5 red jersey (didn't match but they were red). I never cared much for shirts and skins in cold gyms and one year I had a girl turn out.

Bull Rush

It really emphasizes hustle, one-on-one moves and strong defense. Plus, the kids really enjoy it. You have the group divided up into two equal teams. Each team stands along the same baseline (separately), with the first two players up for each team, standing where the key meets the baseline. I roll, bounce or throw the ball out into the court, and when I say "go", both players run to the ball, trying to get it. They are allowed to dive and hustle their best to get the ball. Once they get it, they have to dribble back to the basket and try to score, with the other player playing defense. If the ball is stolen, then they switch offense/defense. I usually give a time limit of 30-45 seconds and that makes them concentrate on end-of-game situations. (Thanks to Jon Douglas, Hamilton, Ontario)

Fullcourt variation. I would line the players up foul line extended, opposite of each other, stand underneath the basket and roll the ball out to the foul line.

Down Low Drill

Place one ball on each block down low, have player start in the middle and work on sliding to each block and putting the ball in the hoop. Time the player and keep track of how many they put in and the total attempted. Currently in a minute, my best player is doing about 18 out of 25. This has helped with using the backboard down low, moving for the ball. (Thanks to Jocelyn Perez, New York, New York)

Beanbag Dribble

Players pair up and each player has a basketball. While dribbling their own ball they then play catch with a bean-bag, about the size of the palm of the hand. First dribbling with the right hand and tossing and catching the bean bag with the left. This can be tricky since most kids are right handed! Variations two beanbags and kids group into threes and form a triangle toss the bag around the triangle. (Thanks to Joe Ralko, Regina, Canada)

Offensive Set Up and Plays

With younger kids I would use a 1-3-1 offensive set up and give them some basic movement ideas and let them create from there. Kids tend to look like un-oiled robots when trying to run elaborate a plays. Sometimes I have them pass four times before shooting, I use two man games, for example: the baseline guy will come up and screens, then the wing guys cuts to the basket, or have the wing guy go down set a screen for the baseline guy who can pop open for a shot, or have the baseline guy move to the side the ball is being passed, have the post (foul line guy) roll to the hoop when the ball goes to the wing or down to the baseline guy. Have wings and the point guards pass the ball around then reverse it back to wing guy for a shot. There are many possibilities, use your imagination and your players strengths.

Parent Relations

As for dealing with parents, it is one of those things, as long as you are winning, their kid is playing, and you are not yelling at him, they will think your a good coach. Some hints with dealing with parents. Keep them informed, don't rely on the kids, no matter what age, I would hand out a packet, that would have all the parents first names, phone numbers, schedule, special league game rules, and a letter to the parents saying how you are going to coach and to please call you or an assistant, or a team parent who can act as a third party, if they have an issue. The tip sheet of course. Try not to do things that will embarrass the kid while they are playing, try to sub on positive events, don't yell at a kid across the court. Communicate and be friendly.


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