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 4

Cultivating Values & Developing Wellness

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Active Lifestyle

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  • One of the toughest issues facing youth sports today is pressure on players and their parents to have children specialize in a single sport before they are ready and to play that sport year-round. Ironically, while many youth programs pursue early specialization, telling parents it is necessary so that their children do not fall behind in chasing any scholarship opportunities, most coaches who do the actual recruiting prefer multi-sport athletes. Athletes who play multiple sports tend to be more well-rounded as players and people due to their variety of experiences and less susceptible to overuse injuries.

Warm Up

5%
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Active Warm-Up

(1 x each from baseline to half court or vice versa)
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  • Jog in Place
  • 1 Foot Hop Left
  • 1 Foot Hop Right
  • Head Rolls
  • Shoulder Rolls
  • Arm Rolls
  • Waist Rolls
  • Knee Rolls
  • Ankle Rolls

Building Skills

60%
60%

Ball Handling

Low, Middle, High Dribble

(2 x 20 seconds each level & each hand)
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  • All players need a basketball (or share) and should stand on the sideline.
  • The players will start by dribbling the basketball with the right hand low in a good stance with their eyes up and using their left arm to protect the ball.
  • The players will do this for 20 seconds and then switch to their left hand and complete the same process.
  • Next the player will move back to their right hand and dribble at the middle level for 20 seconds and then switch hands.
  • Last, the players will dribble the ball high, around shoulder level for 20 seconds each hand.
  • Throughout this drill, the coach will hold up a variety of numbers of fingers. The players must see the fingers and call out the number.

Key Points

Keep the players in a good stance with their chest and eyes up. Remind them to use their fingertips and execute low, middle, and high quick dribbles to improve coordination and ball control.

Stationary Crossover Low, Middle, High

(3 x 15 seconds each)
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  • All players need a basketball (or share) and should stand on the sideline.
  • Players should bend their knees and begin dribbling back and forth swinging the ball from right to left low and quick below the knees.
  • After 20 seconds, the player will dribble at knee level and continue for another 20 seconds.
  • Last, the player will dribble the ball higher swinging it from from side to side for 20 more seconds.

Key Points

Keep the players in a good stance with their chest and eyes up. Remind them to use their fingertips and push the ball back and forth from side to side with quick dribbles to improve coordination and ball control.

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.

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

Pass & Follow Drill

(1 x 1 minute)
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  • Have two lines facing each other (or more based on numbers).
  • With one ball, have the player with the ball pass to the line across from them and then run to the back of that line.
  • The new player with the ball will repeat the same action of passing to the other line and running to the back of that line.
  • Dictate to the players to pass and run to the right side of the line so they do not run into the next pass.

Key Points

Work on quick passes, showing a target and calling each others names.

Partner Running Pass Drill

(2 x down & back)
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  • Have the players partner up and get 1 ball.
  • The players will line up on the baseline next to their partner.
  • The first partner pair will run very close (inside the lane line extended) and pass the ball back and forth all the way down the court to each other.
  • They will shoot a lay-up when they get to the other end.
  • The next group will go immediately behind them.
  • After all groups have gone, the groups will repeat coming back.
  • This time they will take one step further apart from each other so the passes are a further distance as they run.
  • Continue this process and have the players run and pass further from each other every trip to build on running and passing.

Key Points

Try to not drop any passes! Call each others name and lead the player with the pass.

Shooting

3-Line Layups Add Variations

(1 x 90 seconds each line)
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  • Group the players into three lines facing the basket around the 3-point line (1 line on each wing and 1 line at the top of the key).
  • The first person in each line should have a ball and dribble in for a lay-up.
  • After the lay-up, the player will get their own rebound, pass it to the next person in line and go to the back of the same line.
  • The players in each line will have different finishes (right hand and left hand from the wing and a lay-up with no backboard in the middle).
  • Mix in different finishes such as the euro step. After 90 seconds the players will rotate lines.

Key Points

Note that there will be multiple players shooting at the same time. Remind the players that in a game there will be other players close to them as the try to score and it’s ok. Work on finishing lay-up in a variety of ways.

Form Shooting – 2 Hands

(3 x 8)
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  • Have the players partner up with a basketball at a basket.
  • The players should stand within a few feet of the basket and put the ball in their dominant hand in front of them.
  • Have the players hold the ball with their elbow underneath it, and their palm facing the sky.
  • The player will then add their off hand as support.
  • When the player is ready, they should extend their knees and arm at the same time to shoot for the basket.
  • Have the players hold their follow-through until the shot goes through the basket or misses.
  • Have more than 1 partner per at a basket to maximize reps, space and time.

Key Points

Have the players start with their knees bent, elbow in and extend their follow-through with their elbow high and wrist flipped so that the ball has good arc and rotation.

Spin Step-In Drill

(1 x 2 minutes each way)
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  • Have each player get a ball and start in 1 line on the baseline (be sure to utilize multiple baskets).
  • Place 3 cones around the paint, 1 just above the block, 1 in the middle of the lane and 1 just above the opposite block.
  • Have the players spin the ball out in front of the first cone, move forward and step into the ball with their inside foot.
  • Once square and balance repeat the process moving to the cone in the middle of the paint.
  • Again once square and balance repeat the process moving to the 3rd cone where the player will plant their inside foot and this time shoot the ball.
  • The player will get their rebound and go to the back of the line.
  • The players are allowed to start once the player in front of them is at the middle cone.

Key Points

Work on balance and good footwork. Be sure to go both directions.

Loop Shooting Drill

(1 x 4 minutes)
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  • The players will start in two lines facing the court where the lane line meets the sideline.
  • Each line will have two balls.
  • There will be one player who starts on the court on the block.
  • The player with the ball in front of the player on the court will pass them the ball, the player will shoot and get their rebound.
  • After rebounding, the player will give the ball to the same line they got it from and then go to the back of that line.
  • After the player passes, they will loop around the outside of the shooter to the other side of the lane and catch the ball from that line.
  • The player will shoot, get the rebound, give the ball to the line they got it from and go to the back of that line.
  • The player who made that pass will continue the process of looping behind, shooting, and going to the other line.
  • Have the players shoot from different distances from the basket when you dictate.

jrnba_starter_pp4_loopshootingdrill_diagram1of4 jrnba_starter_pp4_loopshootingdrill_diagram2of4 jrnba_starter_pp4_loopshootingdrill_diagram3of4 jrnba_starter_pp4_loopshootingdrill_diagram4of4

Key Points

Make sure the players go around the outside of the shooter. Also make sure the players get their rebounds quickly and give it to the line they received the pass from.

diagram

Footwork and Conditioning

Run to Backpedal Drill

(2 x down and back)
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  • Have the players start on the baseline in balanced lines.
  • On the coach’s command the first player from each line will run at 75% speed down the court. At half court, the players will turn to running backwards all the way to the baseline.
  • When each group gets to half court, the next group on the baseline will start

Key Points

Ensure that the players stay balanced and turn efficiently into their backpedal.

Team Concepts

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15%

Pass, Cut & Replace Drill

(2 minutes)
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  • Start with a line on each wing and 1 player at the top of the key with the ball.
  • The player at the top will pass to either wing and cut to the basket looking for the ball.
  • The player on the wing without the ball will “replace” the cutter and fill to the top of the key.
  • The cutter is now out of the drill and will go to the back of the line on the wing that replaced them.
  • The wing with the ball will pass to the top where the player replaced.
  • That player will reverse the ball to the other wing and cut to the basket and the series repeats.
  • Cutters only cut from the top.

jrnba_starter_pp4_passcutandreplacedrill_diagram1of4 jrnba_starter_pp4_passcutandreplacedrill_diagram2of4 jrnba_starter_pp4_passcutandreplacedrill_diagram3of4 jrnba_starter_pp4_passcutandreplacedrill_diagram4of4

diagram

Key Points

Make sure the players show their hands to catch the ball and stand in the triple threat position before making strong passes. Also emphasize that the cutter cuts hard to the basket looking for the ball with a hand up.

Fundamentals of Reversing the Ball

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  • Also known as swinging the ball, reversing the ball is used to describe passing the ball from one side of the court to the other. When done quickly, it often provides the offense with an advantage as the defense tries to react.

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.

Fundamentals of the Closeout

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  • A closeout happens when a defensive player must guard an offensive player who has just caught the ball. The defensive player must
    get to the offensive player quickly or they will have an easy shot. However, the defender must go under control or the offensive player will easily drive past them. When closing out, it is important to have 1 hand in the air to discourage the offensive player from shooting while also maintaining a good stance with the knees bent and ready to move.

Closeout Breakdown Drill

(1 minute)
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  • Have 1 player start on the wing and have a line of players on the baseline with 2 balls in the front of the line (add other lines and players on the perimeter based on numbers.
  • The first player in line will pass the ball to the player on the wing and then make a good close out.
  • After the close out, the offensive player will go to the back of the line and the defensive player will become the offensive player on the wing.
  • Continue this process working on good close outs for the allotted amount of time.

Competing

15%
15%

Closeout 1 on 1 Drill

(4 minutes)
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  • Have players line up in two lines on the baseline and a player on each wing (utilize multiple baskets if possible).
  • The first players on the baseline will pass the ball to the players on the wing and close out with good form and play defense.
  • The offensive players have to stay on the half of the court they start on and are only allowed 3 dribbles before shooting.
  • If the player scores, they will stay on offense and a new player on the baseline will become the new passer and defender.
  • If the defender gets a defensive stop, that player will become the offensive player.
  • Compete until a player scores 6 baskets and switch sides of the court.
diagram

Key Points

Make sure the players chop their feet down, and put their hand up on the close out before working hard to stop the offensive player. Make sure the offensive players use good, quick, efficient moves.

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