Youth Basketball Coach Tips – Fun Warm Up Games
Any coach worth his or her salt knows the value of warm up exercises and games. Of course, they serve a practical purpose; they help players to limber up, help them to sharpen their skills and reduce the possibility of injury or strain. There’s also a secondary purpose to such exercises; they help the team to bond through an enjoyable shared experience. This not only gets them to function better as a unit it makes practice much more fun and builds that all-important sense of camaraderie among the team. When coaching kids, one often finds that certain warm up games become wildly popular at first…but kids tend to get bored of them fairly quickly. As such, a coach needs a wide range of games and drills to keep players on their toes. Here are some of our favorites…
Dribbling is perhaps the most fundamental skill in basketball; a skill that ties all of the other skills in the sport together. This game is great for building dribbling skills and teaching kids to avoid blockers but it’s also a highly enjoyable game that kids love.
Every player starts off in the half court with a basketball of their own except for two players who are the ‘taggers’. These are the kids that the players with the basketballs will try to avoid so it helps if they’re wearing a different colored shirt to help identify them.
As soon as the coach blows their whistle, the taggers will do their best to tag each and every player who is dribbling a ball. If the player is tagged they must stand still like a scarecorw with legs wide open and the ball held above their heads. They can be set free once again if another player dribbles their ball successfully through their legs. Every few minutes, switch up the taggers.
A great passing drill that helps to promote teamwork, organization and discipline when passing. Many new players, especially young children, have a tendency to sprint toward the ball. As players are static in this drill it teaches them the value of spacing and player positioning when avoiding the defense. It also teaches them to function as a unit and communicate non-verbally.
One or two players are singled out as defenders while the rest of the team (offense) are spread out in a small area (such as the 3-point line). The offense share one ball between them.
When the coach blows their whistle, the defenders will run around trying to steal the basketball from the offense, aiming to either deflect the passes or steal the ball outright. Offensive players must stay still and pass the ball around or between them to keep it away from the defenders. Again, switch defenders after a few minutes. Not only will this build great coordination within the team, it’s a great cardio workout for defenders.
Perfecting the arc necessary for a ‘swish’ shot is an integral shooting skill which this drill aims to hone. Moreover, it gets players more accustomed to taking shots without the pressure that comes from shooting during a game.
Players form three separate lines a few feet away from the basket and each player has a ball of their own. Players then take turns shooting at the basket with the aim of getting the perfect swish on each shot. After each player has taken their shot and retrieved their ball, you can have them either return to the end of their line or rotate to a different line. This will get them used to shooting from different angles.
These fun games will not only build your team’s skills but strengthen their bond as a unit!