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.

  • Download a full practice plan to review and study
  • Download a one-page practice plan to fit your clipboard
  • Review the interactive plan below complete with videos

ICON KEY

+
Expands the details for that drill
Collapses the details for that drill
Indicates there is a video
 
Indicates there is a diagram
PDF Practice Plan One-Pager: Preview/Download
PDF Practice Plan Full Instructions: Preview/Download
Starter Practice Plan 5

Cultivating Values & Developing Wellness

5%
5%

Respect: Coaches

+
  • Players should respect their coaches, who sacrifice a lot to spend time coaching. And coaches also should respect their players, because it is a coach’s job to serve players by helping them learn and improve. A big part of the mutual respect between coaches and players is listening to each other and getting to know each other so that there is a level of trust.

Warm Up

5%
5%

The Escape Game

(3 times each partner)
+
  • Have the players partner up and designate a partner “1” and a partner “2” for each pair.
  • All 1’s will go to the center of the gym, face the center, and cover their eyes.
  • Have all 2’s start next to their partner 1.
  • At the coach’s command “Move with..”, partner 2’s will move away from 1’s by moving with the movement the coach chooses from the selection below.
  • On the command, “Find your partners!” partner 1’s open their eyes, move as their partner was commanded, and locate and gently tag their partner.
  • Once tagged both partners must go back to the center of the court, where they will switch roles and repeat.

Movement Options: Hopping on 1 foot, hopping on 2 feet, skipping, lateral slide, running, running sideways, running backwards.

Key Points

This is a great game to help the players actively warm-up. Players should only run if commanded to run. Make sure that both partners use the movement that coach commands.

Building Skills

60%
60%

Ball Handling

Quick Drops Drill

(2 x 20)
+
  • Players need a basketball (or share) and should find space on the court facing the coach.
  • Have players bend their knees and put the ball on the floor between your feet.
  • The players will put their right hand on the ball from the front of their body.
  • The players will then put their left hand on the ball from behind their body.
  • The players will pick the ball up to about knee height.
  • Next the players will drop the ball and quickly switch their hands so that they catch the ball in the air with their right hand behind their right leg and their left hand in front of their left leg.
  • If this is too difficult, let the ball bounce 1 time before the catch.

Key Points

Work on having quick hands while staying in a stance.

Stationary 2 Ball Dribble Same Time

(2 x 30 seconds)
+
  • Have each player get 2 balls or share and find space on the sideline.
  • The players will bend their knees, keep their eyes and chest up and dribble both balls at the same time.
  • Encourage the players to dribble quick and firm and make sure they are pushing the ball down with their off hand just as strong as their dominant hand.
  • If the players are able, move them to low, middle or high dribbles.

Key Points

Work on coordination and ball control. Look for any weaknesses in either hand and encourage the players through the drill.

Stationary 2 Ball Dribble Alternate

(2 x 30 seconds)
+
  • Have each player get 2 balls or share and find space on the
    sideline.
  • The players will bend their knees, keep their eyes and chest up and dribble both balls by alternating which ball is in their hand and which is bouncing.
  • Encourage the players to dribble quick and firm and make sure they are pushing the ball down with their off hand just as strong as their dominant hand.
  • If the players are able, move them to low, middle or high dribbles.

Key Points

Work on coordination and ball control. Look for any weaknesses in either hand and encourage the players through the drill.

5-5-5 Creative Dribble

(1 minute)
+
  • All players need a basketball (or share) and should stand on the baseline.
  • The players will get 5 seconds to dribble the ball with their right hand.
  • The players will then get 5 seconds to dribble the ball with their left hand.
  • The last 5 seconds the players will get to dribble creatively in any way that they want.
  • Repeat this process.
  • This should be a fun drill that allows each player to be creative with the ball.

Passing

Fundamentals of the Pass Fake

+
  • A pass fake is used to make the defense believe the offensive player will pass the ball, which ultimately leads to an advantage for the offensive player. Pass fakes can help a player drive, shoot or make a different pass. A good pass fake includes the body and the eyes.

Pass Fake Breakdown Drill

(2 minutes)
+
  • Have the players start with a ball and line up on the court.
  • Have the players spin the ball to themselves from the side.
  • When they catch the ball from the side, have the give a quick reverse pass fake at chest level and repeat.
  • Also change sides and add pivots if appropriate.

Key Points

Pass fakes should be quick and include the ball moving and the eyes moving.

Pass Fake & Drive Drill

(1 x 2 minutes each side)
+
  • Have the players start at the top of the key with a ball (or a few balls for the line).
  • Have the players pass the coach or a player the ball on the wing.
  • The player or coach will catch the ball and throw it right back to the player who will then pass fake in the opposite direction and then drive for a lay-up.
  • The player will get their rebound and go to the back of the line.
  • Utilize multiple lines to help the drill keep moving.

Key Points

Make quick pass fakes with the ball and the eyes before driving.

Shooting

Lunge Shooting Drill

(1 minute each way)
+
  • Have 5 players line up along the sideline facing the court with the basket to their left.
  • Have all players lunge with their left leg forward toward the paint and the ball on their right side.
  • Once they hold that position for 2-3 seconds the first player should stay low, and aggressively bring their right foot around so they are balanced and square to the baseline in a ready to shoot fashion.
  • The player will then turn and face the middle of the court again and repeat this motion until they reach the middle of the paint. At that point, the player will turn and actually shoot the ball.
  • Each player will start after the player in front of them has provided enough available space.
  • Each player will get their rebound and give the ball to the next player who will do the same.
  • The goals is to make as many shots as possible in 3 minutes and then do the same thing in the opposite direction, leading with the opposite foot.

Key Points

This player will help the players have a good solid base and work on turning, squaring up and having good balance in their shot. Work on landing evenly on both feet and holding the follow through to finish.

Fundamentals of the Shot Fake

+
  • A shot fake is used to make the defense believe the offense will shoot the ball. The goal is to get the defensive player out of position by either jumping or raising up which creates an opportunity for the offensive player to go by them. Shot fakes can help a player drive, shoot or make a play for their teammates. A good shot fake should look exactly like the beginning of the players normal shot. It is important to sit low during the shot fake so that the player can move explosively after the fake.

Shot Fake Breakdown Drill

(2 minutes)
+
  • Have the players start on the baseline with a ball.
  • The players will spin the ball to themselves and catch the ball, shot fake and take one dribble forward with their right hand.
  • The players will repeat this all the way to half court.
  • On the way back, have the players now dribble forward with their left hand.
  • Coach the players as they go.

Key Points

Stay low and show the ball like a normal shot. Make sure the players don’t rush the shot fake.

Shot Fake 1 Dribble Pull-Up Drill

(2 minutes each way)
+
  • Have the players divide into 3 groups.
  • Each group will have a line under the basket with 2 balls, and a line on the perimeter without a ball.
  • The group on the baseline will pass the ball and run towards the player with the ball.
  • The player who catches the ball will shot fake by sitting low and bringing the ball and eyes up on the rim.
  • The shooter will stay low so they explode out of the shot fake for a good 1 dribble pull-up jump shot.
  • The shooter will rebound and give the ball to another player in their line under the basket.
  • The players will switch lines and the drill will continue.
  • Once the players are making the move well, compete with the other lines.

Rebounding

No Ball Box Out Drill

(2 minutes)
+
  • Have the players get in 3 lines around the paint.
  • Have the first player step into the paint as if they’re a defensive player facing the next person in line.
  • The defensive players will assume that the ball is where the coach is and play defense accordingly.
  • When coach simulates a shot or says “shot!” the players will say “shot!” and box out the player standing in front of them and then go and jump as high as they can at the basket.
  • The player will rotate to the back of the line and the player who was next in line will now become the defense.
  • The drill will repeat for the allotted time.

Key Points

Make sure the players are calling the shot, getting a good box out and are attacking the basket for the imaginary rebound.

Defense

Side Lateral Push Drill

(3 x 15 seconds)
+
  • Have the players line up on the lane line and face the coach.
  • When the coach says “go,” the players should push off their back foot to slide to the other side of the lane where they will plant and push back.
  • The players will continue this process for 15 seconds.

jrnba_rookie_pp4_sidelateralpushdrill_diagram1of2 jrnba_rookie_pp4_sidelateralpushdrill_diagram2of2

Key Points

Make sure the players stay in a good stance with their chest and eyes up. Have them work on changing directions quickly and pushing off their back foot.

diagram

Team Concepts

15%
15%

Fundamentals of Setting a Screen

+
  • Setting a screen is something that an offensive player does to try to help their teammate get open. Screens can be set for players with the ball, or players without the ball. In order to set a screen correctly, a player must go to the point in which they want to set the screen and stop moving. The screener will then bend their knees and have a nice wide base with their feet wide, and put their arms either crossed in front of their chest or between their legs. After their teammate comes off the screen, the screener can move again to get open for the ball.

Fundamentals of Setting Up a Screen

+
  • Setting up a screen is what every offensive player must do before using a screen. Setting up the screen is what allows the screen to be useful which often means points scored. Players can set up screens with the ball and without the ball, but here we are addressing screens that happen when the player does not have the ball. To set the screen up, the offensive player must make the defender believe they are going in another direction. The offensive player can do this by running, walking or stepping in another direction. Then the player will plant their foot and directions and change speeds to run off the screen shoulder to shoulder.”

Using a Screen Shooting Drill

(1 x 2 minutes each way)
+
  • A passing line is on the wing. An offensive player, pretend defensive player and a screener are on the other side.
  • The offensive player comes off the screen to catch and shoot and go to the back of the line.
  • The defensive player now becomes the shooter and the screener now becomes the defensive player.
  • The player who made the original pass now runs across and becomes the screener.
  • Work on this drill as a team to make a lot of shots quickly.

jrnba_starter_pp5_usingascreenshootingdrill_diagram1of4 jrnba_starter_pp5_usingascreenshootingdrill_diagram2of4 jrnba_starter_pp5_usingascreenshootingdrill_diagram3of4 jrnba_starter_pp5_usingascreenshootingdrill_diagram4of4

diagram

Fundamentals of Tracing the Ball

+
  • Teach the players that it is important to “trace the ball” when they are playing defense. When the offense player has the ball and is not dribbling, the players can “trace the ball” by moving their hands wherever the ball goes. Tracing the ball applies pressure to the offensive player while providing an opportunity to get deflections or force bad passes.

Tracing the Ball Breakdown Drill

(2 x 1 minute)
+
  • Group the players into 3’s and have one ball per group.
  • Two players should stand a little more than the lane width apart and face each other, one with the ball.
  • The third player will start in the middle and run to close out to the player with the ball and trace the ball.
  • The player with the ball will wait 3 seconds before passing to their teammate.
  • After passing, the player will follow their pass and close out and trace the ball with the player that received the pass.
  • Continue this cycle insuring good close outs and tracing the ball.

jrnba_rookie_pp8_tracingtheballbreakdowndrill_diagram1of6 jrnba_rookie_pp8_tracingtheballbreakdowndrill_diagram2of6 jrnba_rookie_pp8_tracingtheballbreakdowndrill_diagram3of6 jrnba_rookie_pp8_tracingtheballbreakdowndrill_diagram4of6 jrnba_rookie_pp8_tracingtheballbreakdowndrill_diagram5of6 jrnba_rookie_pp8_tracingtheballbreakdowndrill_diagram6of6

diagram

Key Points

Try to keep the intensity up for this drill by encouraging the players to talk and trace the ball with active hands.

Competing

15%
15%

2 on 2 Numbers Game

(games to 3)
+
  • Assign 2 players to each number and have everybody stand on the baseline. The two players with the same number our teammates and will be playing together.
  • Throw the ball on the court and call out 2 numbers.
  • The 2 players with those numbers will go for the ball and whoever gets the ball will be on offense and the other 2 on defense for 1 possession and 1 shot of 2 on 2.
  • Evenly mix up the numbers you call and the game is over when any team gets to 5 points playing by 1’s.

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

(games to 3)
+
  • Divide the players into teams (have substitutes if needed).
  • Play 5 on 5 until a team makes 3 shots.
  • Encourage the players to cut, move the ball and work on all the basketball concepts they have learned.

Compliment Session

+
  • 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