Starter Practice Plans

Welcome to the Starter Level practice plans. At the Starter Level, the fundamental skills will be honed and expanded upon while the players develop an understanding of what it means to be a part of a team.

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Starter Practice Plan 11

Cultivating Values & Developing Wellness

5%
5%

Nutrition

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  • There is an old saying that applies to many aspects of life: “Garbage in, garbage out.” That means if you put a lot of garbage foods into your body, your body’s output of athletic energy will be lacking.
  • It is important to eat balanced meals that include enough fruits and vegetables, protein and carbohydrates. It’s also important to avoid processed sugar, such as in candy or soft drinks.
  • All true basketball players want to perform at their best every time they hit the court. To make sure you can do that, eat right and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and healthy, especially in the hot summer months.

Warm Up

5%
5%

Dynamic Warm-Up Part 3

(1 x each from baseline to half court)
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  • In Out Turn
  • Over the Hurdle Forward
  • Quick Feet & Turn
  • Over the Hurdle Backwards
  • Hip Up & Over Touch
  • Jog to Sprint

Building Skills

60%
60%

Ball Handling

Figure 8 Fingertips

(1 x 30 seconds each way)
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  • Have all the players get a ball (or share) and find a space on the court.
  • The players will begin taking small dribbles in front of their right foot and then continue taking small quick dribbles as they dribble between their legs to the left hand.
  • The player will continue the process with the left hand coming around the left leg and then through the legs to the right.
  • Continue this process for the allotted time and then switch directions.

Single Leg Wraps

(2 x 20 seconds each leg)
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  • All players need a basketball (or share) and should stand on the sideline.
  • Players should be in a stance with their legs wide and their chest up.
  • The players will then wrap the ball around one leg for 10 seconds and then change directions for 10 seconds.
  • The players will then do the same activity on the other leg which completes one set.

Key Points

Get comfortable with the ball, warm-up the fingers and hands, and develop the ability to control the ball. Be sure to have the players keep their chest and eyes up. Help the players feel confident moving the ball as if it is an extension of themself. Push the players to wrap the ball fast in order to challenge their control.

Stationary Front to Back Dribble

(2 x 20 seconds each hand)
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  • All players need a basketball (or share) and should stand on the sideline.
  • The players will start with the basketball in their right hand in a good stance with their eyes up and using their left arm up to protect the ball.
  • Using only the right hand, each dribble should bounce wide outside of their right foot and will bounce forward and backwards forcing the player to get their hand behind the ball to bounce it back forward and then get their hand in front of the ball to then bounce it backwards.

Key Points

This drill helps build dribble control and forces the players move their hand quickly to gather control of the ball and then push it in the opposite direction. As the players get comfortable push them to make this dribble forward and backwards very quickly.

Side to Side Dribble

(2 x 20 seconds each hand)
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  • All players need a basketball (or share) and should stand on the sideline.
  • The players will start with the basketball in their right hand in a good stance with their eyes up and using their left arm up to protect the ball.
  • Each dribble should bounce out in front of their right foot and will bounce from right to left only using their right hand forcing the player to get their hand to the side of the ball to bounce it to the other side.

Key Points

This drill helps build dribble control and forces the players move their hand quickly to gather control of the ball and then push it in the opposite direction. As the players get comfortable push them to make this dribble forward and backwards very quickly.

3-3-3 Dribble Drill

(2 x 20 seconds)
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  • All players need a basketball (or share) and should stand on the sideline.
  • The players will start in a good stance with their knees bent and eyes up and take 3 dribbles with their right hand.
  • Next the players will complete 3 crossover dribbles.
  • Then the players will execute 3 dribbles with their left hand.
  • The players will go back to 3 crossover dribbles and then 3 right handed dribbles and continue the process for the allotted amount of time.

Key Points

This drill will work on low controlled dribbles with both hands as well as the crossover.

Dribble Balance Push

(2 x down and back)
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  • Line the players up on the sideline in even groups and each player with a ball.
  • The first player will stand only on their right leg with the knee slightly bent and dribble the ball with their right hand until the coach says go.
  • The players will then push forward while changing the ball to dribble with their left hand to the foul line area.
  • When the players get to the foul line area they will all stop on their left foot and dribble with their left hand again until the coach says go.
  • Now the players will push forward and dribble with their right hand and continue this pattern.
  • As the first group gets to the foul line the next group will begin on the baseline.
  • Each group will go to the foul line, half court, the opposite foul line and the opposite baseline.

Key Points

Work on ball-handling while maintaining good balance and stability. Then work on pushing off that outside foot to move forward slightly to the opposite side.

diagram

Running Dribble Right/Left/Crossover

(2 x each)
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  • Have players get into balanced groups and line up on the baseline. The first player in each line should have a ball.
  • Have the players run while dribbling with their eyes up to the opposite baseline and back.
  • When they get back have them give the ball to the next person, give them a high five and go to the back of the line.
  • Players should do this 2 times with their right hand, 2 times with their left hand and 2 times with the crossover dribble.

Key Points

Encourage the players to gain comfort and push themselves to run fast and control the dribble at the same time.

diagram

Passing

Open & Decide Drill

(3 minutes)
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  • Have the players start in a line at the free throw line with the first player having a ball in a triple threat stance with their eyes closed.
  • Have another 2 players, 1 standing on each block and a coach or 4th player guarding one of those players.
  • The player with the ball will open their eyes on the whistle and make a quick decision to pass to the open player who will then shoot a lay-up while the defender will try to contest the shot.
  • The passer will now take the place of the shooter. The shooter will take the place of the defender and the defender will go to the back of the line.
  • Keep a tally of how many made baskets the team scores in 3 minutes so you can compete against this number in later practices.

Key Points

Make sure the defender clearly guards one player and does not leave that player until the pass is made! Have the player make a quick decision and a good pass to their teammate. Next, make sure the receiver of the pass works on finishing the shots with a defender contesting. Since the team is trying to make the most shots possible, ensure that the defense contests hard.

Shooting

1-Step Form Drill Part 2

(10 makes each side)
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  • Have the players start in a line at the lane line facing the sideline with the basket to their left.
  • Have the players push out off their right foot and land on the left foot as they catch the ball, turn to square up and shoot.
  • The player should rebound and give the ball back to coach as the next player goes.

Key Points

Work on a good big push, being balanced and turning and squaring up for a perfect shot.

Partner Lay-Ups

(3 minutes)
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  • Have players partner up and get one ball for the two.
  • The first player will start with the ball on the right wing at the 3-point line and the other player will start about 2 strides behind them designated by a cone.
  • When the coach indicates, the player with the ball will dribble in for a lay-up while the other player will try to run from behind to contest the lay-up.
  • The next pair will start immediately behind them and each group will switch positions each time.
  • Change spots on the court as the players get more comfortable.

Key Points

This drill emphasizes having the players finish layups at game speed with a real defender behind them which forces them to have further concentration.

Rebounding

3-Second Box Out Drill

(2 minutes)
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  • Have the players partner up and get a ball.
  • The players will place the ball on the floor and take four steps away from the ball.
  • 1 player will be offense and 1 player will be defense facing the offensive player with their back to the ball.
  • When coach yells “shot” the defensive player will make contact and box out the offensive player as the offensive player tries to go touch the ball.
  • The goal is to have all defensive players to hold the box out preventing the offensive player for touching the ball for 3 seconds.
  • Switch roles and repeat the process.

Footwork and Conditioning

Change of Speed Drill

(3 x down and back)
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  • Have all players with a ball and divided into balanced lines on the baseline.
  • The first person in each line will start by jogging and dribbling to the free throw line. At the free throw line, the players will change speeds and explode out to half court.
  • At half court the players will change speeds back to a jog until the opposite free throw line and then again explode out to the baseline.
  • The first set should be down and back with the right hand, the second set with the left hand and the 3rd set with crossovers at the change of speed.

Key Points

This drill works on developing rhythm and timing with the dribble. Being able to change speeds well, will help the players be harder to guard.

Team Concepts

15%
15%

Pass & Cut Drill

(90 seconds each way)
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  • Have the players line up at the top of the key with a few balls at the front of the line, and have another line on the wing.
  • Have the players pass the ball to the line on the wing and then cut by running to the basket.
  • The player on the wing will catch the ball and pass it back to the cutting player who will complete a lay-up, rebound and then switch lines.

jrnba_rookie_pp4_passandcutdrill_diagram1of3 jrnba_rookie_pp4_passandcutdrill_diagram2of3 jrnba_rookie_pp4_passandcutdrill_diagram3of3

diagram

Key Points

Emphasize a good pass and a quick cut looking for the ball.

Reverse the Ball Drill

(games to 8)
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  • Start with a player on the wing. Place another player at the top of the key and another player on the opposite wing, and the remaining players in a line under the basket as rebounders.
  • The player at the front of the line on the wing will start with the ball in a triple threat stance and when the coach says “Reverse the ball!” the player will pass the ball to the top of the key.
  • The player at the top of the key will quickly catch and pass the ball to the other wing so that the ball has been “reversed” to the other side.
  • When the player on the opposite wing catches the ball, they will shoot the ball and then go to the rebounding line.
  • The player that gets the rebound will make an outlet pass to the wing where the ball started and then go to the end of that line.
  • The player who passed from wing will move to the top, the player from the top will move to the shooting wing, and the wing that started the drill will move to the top.
  • Have a group at another basket doing the same thing and compete to 8 makes and then change directions and then change to a 1 dribble pull up for 2 games.

jrnba_rookie_pp7_reversetheballdrill_diagram1of4 jrnba_rookie_pp7_reversetheballdrill_diagram2of4 jrnba_rookie_pp7_reversetheballdrill_diagram3of4 jrnba_rookie_pp7_reversetheballdrill_diagram4of4

diagram

Key Points

To ensure balance, have the players land in the jump stop position and count to 3 before jogging to the next spot.

Change Direction Slide Drill

(3 minutes)
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  • Place four spread out lines on the baseline.
  • Have the first player in each line start with their back to the court in a good defensive stance.
  • The players will take too slides at an angle backwards while keep their chest, shoulders and hips facing forward.
  • After two slides they will change directions and push back at the opposite angle and continue this all the way down the court.
  • The next player can begin once the player in front of them gets to half court.

Key Points

Players should try to keep their chest, shoulders and hips facing forward and never turn to open up. Every push should be off of their back foot, not a step and pull.

Competing

15%
15%

3 on 3 Numbers Game

(games to 5)
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  • Assign all players to a number in groups of 3 and have everybody stand on the baseline. The 3 players with the same number are teammates and will be playing together.
  • Throw the ball on the court and call out 2 numbers.
  • The 3 players with those numbers will go for the ball and whoever gets the ball will be on offense and the other 3 on defense for 1 possession and 1 shot of 3 on 3.
  • Evenly mix up the numbers you call and the game is over when any team gets to 5 points playing by 1’s.
  • There is a 3 dribble maximum each time a player gets the ball.
  • No screens can be set but cutting is allowed and encouraged.

Key Points

Encourage the players to hustle to the ball and make good team plays to score. Also encourage the defensive team to move their feet, play active defense and contest all shots.

5 on 5 No Dribbles

(3 minute games)
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  • Divide the players into teams and have them play games of 5 on 5 with no dribbles.
  • If a player dribbles, it is a turnover and the other team gets the ball.
  • Play for the allotted amount of time and then communicate observations about the play.

Key Points

Encourage the players to keep moving and cutting to get opportunities to score. Remind the defense that with no dribbles, they can pressure the ball and deny passes!

Compliment Session

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  • Gather the players in the middle of the court and encourage them to raise their hand and give another teammate a compliment.
  • If needed, have the coach start the session by giving a compliment and let the players follow.

Key Points

All compliments should be natural. Not every player has to give or receive a compliment.

Skills Checklist

At the conclusion of the Starter Level, Jr. NBA players should be proficient at each of the following skills. Judging proficiency at this level is the responsibility of the coach.

Ball Handling

    Passing

      Shooting

        Footwork & Conditioning

          Rebounding

            Offense

              Defense

                Other