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Coaching Youth Basketball 101

How do you teach 4th graders (9 & 10-year olds) how to play basketball in a competitive travel league when your players are not too talented? Right now, I do not know. In a preseason tournament the team lost 4 games, mostly by 20 or more points.
The 1st question you need to answer is what can my players do and start from that point? I start with looking at what should have been learned the previous year in 3rd grade!
Most 4th grade teams have players with a wide range of talent differences. Start with the lowest common denominator. What can each player do successfully? Devote a great deal of time to fundamental skills. Try to create drills that simulate game situations.
The 1st offense we use is the “Defensive Give and Go.”
The “Defensive Give and Go” is a term that I have never heard in my life and I am not sure it is completely accurate, but if you google it, My Town Tutors will be the on the 1st page of a search.
“Defensive Give and Go.”
The “Give:” We tell the players the “Give” is when an offensive player does not take care of the ball. He really does not want and he would not mind if you take it from him. It is always great to receive gifts, so we tell the players to accept the gift enthusiastically (and aggressively.)
The “Go:” This is simple put the ball to the floor and dribble as fast as possible to the opposite basketball and make the lay-up. It is very hard for most 4th graders to pass the ball well at the start of the season. Embrace this fact and teach players to make lay-ups of the dribble since 60% – 80% of your points will come with one player stealing the ball and dribbling it coast to coast.
“Rip and Run.”
A more accurate description would be the “Rip and Run.” Developing players are very uncomfortable with the ball. This was the only offense my 3rd grade recreation was capable of running! It was very successful. Many once the receive it look like a deer in headlights. That is when our players grab the ball and try to rip it away from the opponent. At the start of the 4th grade travel season, it is the primary “offense” that we use.
The “Rip” is easy to teach and it is a drill we used to start each practice. With two coaches, one coach stands at the free throw line extended with the ball. The coach holds the ball and has the defender trace the ball with two hands for 2-3 seconds. The coach then exposes the ball so the player can rip it away. A coach should vary the difficultly level of ripping the ball away based on the skill level of the defender.
The “Run” (as I mentioned earlier) is the primary way a 4th grade team can score points.
Check our 4th grade basketball page to learn more drills and ideas as the season continues!