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 7

Cultivating Values & Developing Wellness

5%
5%

Respect: Opponents

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  • Another important component of basketball is respecting your opponents. After all, without opponents, we wouldn’t have a game. Jr. NBA partner Positive Coaching Alliance uses the phrase “fierce but friendly” to describe the best type of competition. A player may hit the deck trying for a loose ball or rebound, and it’s OK for everyone to play to the whistle, but then it’s also fine to help that opponent up off the floor.

Warm Up

5%
5%

Active IQ Warm-Up

(1 x each)
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  • Everybody run with high Knees to where you have 10 seconds to get the ball across.
  • Everybody run with butt kicks to the position on the court that Shaquille O’Neal would catch the ball.
  • Everybody do a lateral slide to where point guards are usually positioned.
  • Everybody go to the opposite side of the court with skips to the part on the court that is also a human body part.

Building Skills

60%
60%

Ball Handling

Double Leg Wrap

(1 x 20 sec each way)
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  • All players need a basketball (or share) and should stand on the sideline.
  • Players should bend their knees and keep their feet together as they wrap the ball around both legs for 10 seconds.
  • The players will then change directions for 10 seconds.

Key Points

Get comfortable with the ball, warm-up the fingers and hands, develop the ability to control the ball. Be sure to have the players keep their eyes up. Encourage the players to go as fast as possible and not worry about losing the ball.

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.

Stationary Side to Side Dribble

(2 x 15 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.

Dribble Balance

(3 x 20 seconds each leg)
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  • All players need a basketball and will stand on the sideline.
  • Players should stand only on their right leg with the knee slightly bent and dribble the ball with their right hand.
  • The players will then do the same thing with their left foot and left hand.

Key Points

Work on ball-handling while maintaining good balance and stability.

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

Walk to Jog Dribble Drill

(2 each)
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  • All players need a basketball (or share) and should stand on the baseline.
  • The players will walk slowly in a low stance while dribbling the ball to half court.
  • Once the players reach half court, they will transition into a jogging dribble to the other baseline.
  • The players will change hands and do the same thing coming back.

Key Points

This is a good opportunity for the players to work on dribbling with movement in a controlled drill. There is no rush and the players should focus on controlling the ball with their eyes up.

Passing

Who Is Ready Drill

(2 minutes)
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  • Have the player get in groups of 3 standing in a triangle with one basketball.
  • 1 player will have the ball facing away from the other two.
  • The two players without the ball will determine 1 player to make eye contact with the player with the ball.
  • The player with the ball will then jump and turn around to face the two players and locate which player is looking at them and has their hands up for the pass and make a quick step and pass.
  • Repeat this action with the new player with the ball.

Key Points

The player with the ball must quickly read and recognize when a player is ready to receive a pass. The other 2 players must quickly decide who will make eye contact.

Dribble & Pass to Target Drill

(2 minutes each side)
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  • Have the players start on the baseline on the right side of the court in one line.
  • Each player can have a basketball or the first 5-6 players.
  • Set up a cone at the opposite wing on the other side of half court.
  • Have the players take 2 jogging dribbles forward and then make a running pass ahead trying to hit the cone.
  • The coach should stand behind the cone and give the ball to the players after their pass.
  • Players will get the ball back and go to the back of the line.
  • Players receive one point each time they hit the cone.

Key Points

Have fun while emphasizing a good long pass and being detailed and precise in hitting a target.

Shooting

Perfect Shot No Basket Drill

(3 x 8 attempts)
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  • All players need a basketball (or share) and should stand on the sideline.
  • Remind them of the perfect shooting form; knees bent, elbow under the ball and shoot up and follow through.
  • Now, on the coach’s command, have the players do this by shooting the ball up in the air.
  • To make a perfect shot to self, the player must hold up their follow through from where they finished their shot and not move their hand.
  • The ball must go up in the air then bounce on the floor just in front of the player and bounce up and hit their shooting hand follow through without them moving it!

Key Points

Make sure the players are focused on everything being perfect and don’t allow them to move their hand after they follow through. Good rotation will help the ball bounce back up to the player’s hand.

Lunge Shooting Drill

(1 minute each way)
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  • 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.

Rebounding

Fundamentals of Chinning the Ball

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  • Teach the players that chinning the ball means to grab the ball and hold in strongly with 2 hands under their chin to protect it from defenders.

Toss & Get It Drill

(2 minutes each side)
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  • Have the players in a line in the paint.
  • Throw the ball up off the backboard and have the first player in line grab the rebound chin it and toss it back to you and go to the end of the line.
  • Repeat this process and switch sides after two minutes.

Key Points

Work on seeing the ball come off the backboard, timing it and going to get the rebound, and chinning the ball nice and strong.

Footwork and Conditioning

Tuck Back Drill

(2 x 6 each way)
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  • All players need a basketball or pretend to have a ball and should stand in an open space on the court.
  • Have the players face forward in a triple threat position.
  • When the coach says “tuck back!” have the players say “strong!” while dropping their right foot and putting the ball on their right hip.
  • When the coach says “over!” have the players step forward with their right foot while turning 90 degrees.
  • When the coach says “triple threat!” the players will return back to the triple threat stance until the coach says relax.

Key Points

This drill should emphasize toughness, footwork and maintaining a strong stance with the ball. Help the players understand the carry over in game situations.

On the Whistle Jump Stop

(2 minutes)
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  • Have the players dribble around the court working on their ball-handling.
  • When the coach blows the whistle, all the players will jump stop and sit in a good stance.
  • Repeat this process working on ball-handling and a good jump stop.

Key Points

Have all the players work on their ball-handling while moving around the court. Each player should quickly react to the whistle with a good, balanced jump stop.

Team Concepts

15%
15%

Fundamentals of a 2-on-1 Fast Break

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  • Teach the players to have good spacing, move together and share the ball by passing.

2-on-1 Fast Break Drill

(3 minutes)
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  • Start with 2 lines at half court and one line with a ball.
  • Have a defender starting at the top of the key.
  • Have the 2 offensive players attack to try to score in a 2 on 1 fast break setting.
  • The player who takes the shot or turns the ball over will then become the defensive player at the top of the key.
  • The other players will go to the back of the lines at half court

Key Points

Work on good fast break decision making while also working on good 2 on 1 defense.

Group Closeout Slide & Trace Drill

(1 minute each way)
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  • Have four players line up across the free throw line extended and 4 lines on the baseline lined up across from them and the first player in the line with the ball.
  • The first player in each line will pass the ball out to the player on the court and give a good close out.
  • Everybody with the ball will wait on the close out and then give 2 hard dribbles to the right so the defensive player has to move their feet.
  • After the two dribbles the player will pick up the ball and the defensive player will trace the ball.
  • The player with the ball will pass the ball to the next player in line and go to the back of the line.
  • The previous defensive player will become the offensive player.
  • Continue this drill for 1 minute in each direction.

Key Points

Good close outs, slide quick and trace the ball with active hands. This drill should be high energy.

Competing

15%
15%

On the Block Finish Drill

(games to 3)
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  • Have 2 lines on the baseline with two players standing on the blocks.
  • The coach will have the ball at the free throw line and pass the ball to one of the 2 players.
  • That player will have a maximum of 1 dribble to take a shot and must not move backwards.
  • The player who did not receive the pass will become defense and try to stop the player with the ball.

jrnba_starter_pp7_ontheblockfinishdrill_diagram1of3 jrnba_starter_pp7_ontheblockfinishdrill_diagram2of3 jrnba_starter_pp7_ontheblockfinishdrill_diagram3of3

diagram

Key Points

Work on finishing with a live pass and defense.

Elbows Finish Drill

(games to 3)
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  • Have the players partner up with one ball per group.
  • Have one player on offense and one player on defense starting around the elbow.
  • The offensive player will start with the ball facing the basket and gets a maximum of 3 dribbles and only one shot attempt.
  • After one shot, that group will go to the back of the line and the next group will start.
  • Make or miss the shot, the offensive and defensive player will always change positions on the next possession.

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.

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