Youth basketball programs start as early as 6 years of age and get extremely competitive at the Middle School and High School level. Those athletes with a true passion, talent and dedication for the sport may continue to play competitively in college.
Regardless on how far an athlete takes basketball all players must start with proper fundamentals of ball handling, shooting and passing. Players will never reach their full potential unless they first master the basics.
This page is here to help with these basic skill as well as drills and coaching techniques, to help you use your practice time most efficiently.
Also visit the "basketball drills" page for ideas and videos covering the basic basketball fundamentals.
Without good ball-handling/dribbling skills nothing else will greatly matter. Having the best shooters in the league is of little significance if your players cannot get the ball into a position to score. Like everything else it all comes down to practice, practice, practice. At the younger ages it is important to teach all different aspects of ball handling; mainly the right hand, left hand, and front cross-over dribble.
Step 1. Proper Body Position:
The players body should always be between the ball and the defensive player.. This will ensure that the offensive players body is always protecting the ball.
Step 2. Dribbling without looking at the ball
Seeing the court and learning to look up the court while dribbling, instead of looking down at ball. Overtime a player must be able to dribble by feel.
Step 3. Solid Bounce Many young kids are constantly having to feel for, or reach down to meet ball when dribbling. This is simply a result of the player being soft on the bounce, and not pushing the ball hard enough for it to come back up to meet them. Players need to realize that they should not have to reach for the ball, but that the ball should be bounced hard enough to meet them where they are.
Good passing is just another integral part of the game of basketball. It promotes the one thing that truly wins games “TEAMWORK”. A good team with good passing can use this skill to their advantage. It becomes very hard to score when you spend most time on defense. The basic principles of passing are similar to that of many other aspects of basketball.
The first thing a player needs to understand is that they must keep a firm grip on the ball, using BOTH HANDS! Next, the player must also have the ball held and their body positioned in a way that protects the ball from defender. All passes must be sharp and accurate, but manageable for the teammate receiving it.
To make the occasional overhead pass, or a pass to the side while stationary, it may be necessary for passer to use pivot for to turn, move, or step around a defender in order to make the pass.
In youth basketball, do to the size of the payers hands and the weight of the ball we will not be spending any time talking about shooting the ball from above head, as we would expect from older players. Most youth players, especially at the younger levels simply won't be physically capable of doing this anyway. It is something, however, that older youth players should begin working toward as they develop. With this in mind we will focus mainly upon the four key components to any good jump shot.
Youth basketball players, early on, need to know that once he/she receives a pass or pulls up off the dribble looking to take a shot, it is necessary that they have their body in the proper position to make the shot. This is accomplished by a player using either the jump-stop or pivot to get their body SQUARED-UP with the goal. When a player squares up the front of their body should be facing directly toward the goal, with both feet planted side by side around shoulder width apart.
Ball Control and hand position
When a player has control of the basketball they should always be mindful of the need for having a firm grip upon the ball with both hands. They should also hold the ball in a way as to protect it from being knocked away or stolen. As the shooter begins shot it is important that the ball rest upon the pads of fingers and thumb of shooting hand, not flat against palm. In most cases the ball WILL touch the front of the palm-this is acceptable as long as it stays off the main part of the palm. Fingers of shooting hand should be spread just comfortably, and not together. The players other hand is their guide hand and should be to the side of the ball in the same manner as shooting hand. In the act of taking a shot, the players shooting arm should be bent at elbow, with forearm near straight and parallel to body. This is best accomplished by keeping elbow in toward body as much as is comfortable or possible.
This is something that is definitely a must concerning youth basketball players, because of what we discussed previously about their lack of strength. Once a player has squared up and have feet planted, the act of shooting should begin by player bending their knees and coming up quickly, much like a spring. At release of ball legs should be straight, with feet pointed slightly downward above floor. Learning this will make the chances of a shooter having their shot blocked less likely, and will greatly increase a child' shooting range.
follow through is important for several reasons in youth basketball or at any other level. Upon the moment of the basketball's release, if a player has followed through properly, it helps to ensure that the ball is heading in the right direction. And the extra push with the fingers is what creates the backspin upon the ball, making for more arch, distance, and increases the odds of getting the roll or bounce when ball hits rim. A ball shot flat or without backspin is much more likely to "brick" off rim.
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