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As a teacher and high school coach with over 30 seasons of experience (3 sports), 17 as a varsity basketball, I have assumed the herculean tasks of teaching 1st graders the game of basketball.
There are very few resources for this age level, so I thought I might try to provide some ideas that may or may not be helpful.
School systems develop a curriculum to fit the needs of a particular age. Over the next few weeks, I will try to outline a curriculum of skills that might be appropriate to teach to 1st grade basketball players.
I firmly believe that each player should have a ball the majority of the time. Giving a 6- or 7-year-old a ball means they will want to bounce it all time, so I try to keep my instructions brief. I also speak loudly enough that I can be heard over a few bounces.
It is very important to introduce drills in which players can succeed. It also is important to introduce drills that are fun so they might practice on their own.
These drills are completed while the players stand in place. Players can be standing on the baseline, baseline and sidelines, 3-point line or in traditional stretch lines. With all these drills, stress to the players to use the fingertips and fingertip pads, not that palm!
Complete each drill for 20 – 30 seconds. If you have limited time, you may only want to complete the drills with the strong hand.
- Ankle rolls – Players will place the feet together and roll the ball on the floor around the legs. Reverse direction.
- Figure 8 Rolls: Players will spread the legs wide and roll the ball in and out of the legs in a figure 8 patter. Reverse direction.
- Dribbles – strong hand, weak hand, alternating
- V dribbles or “windshield wipers:” Players dribble the ball with one had and make small Vs in front of the body. Switch hands.
- 1-2-3 switch: Players will dribble the ball 3 times with the right hand, on the 4th dribble execute a crossover dribble to the left hand. Dribble the ball 3 times with the left hand and repeat. Variation 1-2 switch. 1 switch.
- Dribble March: Players will follow the same routine as the 1-2-3 switch drill. This time on the 3rd dribble the player will lift the opposite leg and dribble the ball under the leg to the opposite hand. Players really like this drill and will practice it on their own.