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Coaching 1st grade basketball can be a huge challenge. It is important to have the players use smaller balls (youth size), shoot on lower hopes, and play with less the 5 players on a team. It can be hectic, but we highly recommend that each player have a ball to maximize repetitions.

There are so many resources for basketball, however very little for the younger grades. Over the next several weeks and months, we will be posting some drills and ideas that might be useful. We would love your feedback. For additional information, please visit our coaching youth basketball page.

Week #1 Skills Clinic

Goal: The goal of the 1st week clinic is to introduce the players to the coaches and some of the drills that will be used during the season. Since there are no practices, the 1st week is an opportunity to evaluate the skills of the players. It also allows the coaches an opportunity to share some ideas about coaching this age group.

Common Drills: This will be an opportunity for the coaches to collectively look at the BIG PICTURE. At the end of the year, what skills do we hope the majority of players will acquire during the season. It also might be an opportunity for the coaches to agree on a format that allows of maximum instruction. Perhaps there could be drill stations each week with each coach focusing on one skill.

Practice Schedule

1. Dribbling (Dribble laps) & Triple Threat Position: Dribble laps: Players dribble around the perimeter if the court using right hand dribbles, left hand dribbles, and alternating dribbles.

Triple Threat Position: Before switching dribbles and directions, the coach should blow the whistle to stop the players. The whistle should signal to the players to get in the triple threat. The players should all yell “TRIPLE THREAT” as they get into position.

Teaching the basics of Triple Threat position.

1. “Triple Threat” (starting position) Ball on  “shooting hip” with shooting foot, or jab foot slightly bake.

2. “Ball Fake” Jab step and lift “Ball above eyes” at the same time. Players should FREEZE the shot fake and coaches should go around to check for correct ball position.

3. QUICK return to the starting triple threat position.

Notes: Triple Threat Position is an easy, age appropriate skill to teach. There are so many different ways to teach this skill. Triple threat position is a fairly simple idea to introduce, though most players will not be able to execute it during games. Coaches can use the following verbal commands to the players to help them understand the movement of the ball fake. “HIP” (starting point), “JAB (step) & LIFT” (The basketball above the eyes), (return the ball to the) “HIP!” What all players should understand is the ball should be placed above the eyebrow.

2. Stationary Ball-Handling: These drills are easy to introduce and are important for developing hand-eye coordination. There are a variety of drills, but it might be best to stick with a few simple ones so the players become familiar with the drills. (Players can be positioned around the perimeter or in stretch line formation.)

Rolls: circle rolls, figure 8 rolls, Body Circles: ankles, knees, waist, head, corkscrew Toss & Catch: toss the ball in the air catch, catch with a clap Stationary dribbles: right hand, left hand, alternating, Vs vary height: knees, waist, shoulders Dribble March: Dribbble ball between legs 1, 2, 3, LIFT, 1, 2, 3, LIFT (goal is to improve so every dribble between legs.)

3. Partner Passing (set up cones): Dribble to half court (cone), turn around, stop at cone (the cones are placed just inside the free throw line), pass to your partner. Bounce pass 1st then chest pass. Catching a chest pass is a little of a challenge for 1st graders. Players also can be stationary, lined up on each side of the free throw lane and pass the ball back and forth.

4. Lay-ups / Spot Shooting (left block, center, right block): Teaching shooting should not be a focus at this level. It is a skill that is beyond most players at this age. Simply have the players shoot from three spots. One coaching point for block lay-ups is to have the players know the aiming point. The aiming point should be the top corner of the square on the backboard. This is more specific than the backboard or just “the square.” Players can shoot for 1:30 or 2 minutes. It is a good idea to record the scores each week to encourage the players to improve the scores each week. (Coaches can work the clock to ensure the improvement if necessary.)

5. Defense: Teach the players the proper stance. Instruct the players to have legs a little more than shoulder-width apart. The back should be straight with the butt low. Players should have the arms stretched out wide with the palms pointing up at about waist level.
It is always nice to keep it fun. One of our favorite drills is dribble tag because the players enjoy it and all the players are dribbling a basketball at the same time.
Games: Dribble tag: Dribble tag is a great way to get all the players dribbling the ball with their head up. One (or more) player(s) has the “TAG BALL(S).” The player with this ball is “IT.” Once the player tags another person, the two players exchange the balls and continue with the game. There is no taggsies back.
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Visit our Coaching Youth Basketball page.