Rookie Practice Plans

Welcome to the Rookie Level practice plans. The Rookie level focuses on having fun, being active, and learning the basic fundamental skills of basketball. There are three options for viewing these practice plans.

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Rookie Practice Plan 12

Cultivating Values & Developing Wellness


Respect: Parents

  • Discuss how to show respect for parents.
  • Did our parents allow us or help us come to basketball
  • In many cases, our parents are the most important, influential people in our lives. We owe them thanks for the good they provide and the love they show. One way to help players mind the importance of respecting their parents is to remind them their jerseys may have their parents’ names on the back; anyone watching the game will watch the players’ behavior and understand who raised them.

Warm Up


Four Corners Game

(2 games)
  • Every player has a ball and starts in any of the four corners of the court. Assign each corner of the gym a number: 1-4. The coach stands at the center of the court with his/her eyes closed.
  • When coach says “GO” all players dribble to any other corner. Coach will count to 10 out loud. On “Zero” all players must stay in their chosen corner.
  • The coach will then call out a corner number based on where they think the most players are. Any player in the corner that is called is “out” and joins the coach in the center. Continue the game until there is only one player remaining. That player then becomes the “coach” in the center of the court!

Key Points

Players should try to move from corner to corner as fast as they can and must dribble whenever they move.

Building Skills


Ball Handling

5-5-5 Creative Dribble

(1 minute)
  • All players need a basketball (or share) and find an open space on the court.
  • 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.

Dribble Knockout

(2 games)
  • All players need a basketball and should start inside of half court or the 3-point line, depending on the number of players.
  • The players must dribble the ball without picking it up, double dribbling or going out of bounds. All players should try to knock the other player’s ball away while dribbling.
  • The goal is to be the last player still dribbling.
  • As the number of players still in gets lower, change the out of bounds area to a smaller area such as inside the 3-point line or lane or the circle at 1/2 court.


  • To minimize player down-time after getting eliminated, create a second game in another area of the court that will run simultaneously, or have players practicing dribbling moves on the sideline until the game ends.

Key Points

Work on ball-handling in a fun game setting. Instruct players to keep their heads up while dribbling.


Frequent Flyers

(2 games)
  • Place approximately 5 cones around the perimeter and name each after a city. Divide the players into 2 groups (offense and defense). Make sure the offense has more player (3:1, 4:2, 5:2 etc.).
  • Every player on offense has a ball and will start at one of the cones. The defense will all start in the lane. When the game starts the offensive players will try to dribble in and score inside the paint while the defense tries to stop them.
  • After a made shot starting from a cone, the offensive player has “stamped their passport” from that location and will try to score from the remaining cones that they have not scored from. If a player misses a shot they can start at any cone next that they have not scored from.
  • Once a player has scored from all spots, they win the game. Change players and play again.

Key Points

Only allow 1 shot per drive. Adjust the number of defenders to make the game easier or harder.

Competitive Drills

Lay-Up Bowling

(1-2 games)
  • Divide the players into 2 teams and have them line up on opposite baselines.
  • Each team will have 2 balls. 1 with the player in the front of the line and 1 ball on the ground near the sideline.
  • The coach will set up 3 cones about 2 or 3 feet apart near half court and towards the sideline that the team is stationed at.
  • The first player will dribble to the opposite end of the court and shoot a lay-up. The player will get their rebound and dribble back to their starting and jump stop and give the ball to the next player in line.
  • If the player missed the lay-up, they go to the back of the line. If the player made the lay-up, they will go towards the sideline and get the extra ball. The player will bowl the ball towards the cones near half court. The player will sprint to get the ball and bring it back to put it back near the sideline.
  • If the player hits a cone, it counts as knocking it over and the coach will remove it.
  • The team to hit all 3 of their cones first will win.


  • Coach stands at half court and as the players are dribbling for their lay-up, the coach holds up a 1 or a 2. 1 indicates a direct lay-up and 2 indicates quickly making a crossover and executing a lay-up on the other side of the basket.




Basketball Tennis

(2 x 2 minutes )
  • Use cones or objects to create rectangle boxes (approximately 10×20 feet) with a line or cones dividing the box in half.
  • Divide players into pairs with 1 ball per group.
  • Players will stand at opposite sides of the rectangle and will try to throw bounce passes across the middle line inside the court so that the opposing player cannot catch the ball after one bounce.
  • Just like tennis, the goal is to make the other player move and not be able to catch the ball.
  • Be sure to encourage ball fakes and pivoting and remind players that tennis scoring goes “15, 30, 40, game”

Key Points

Instruct players to utilize pass fakes to try and get their opponents to move. Be creative by changing passing angles and the distance of the bounce passes. Receivers should stay in an athletic stance and be ready to anticipate passes.

Cone Knockdown Game

(1 game )
  • Create a rectangular playing area using cones or a half court. Place one cone or other object at each end of the playing area.
  • Divide the group into two teams. Each team is assigned one of the two cones to knock down with a pass. The two teams start in the middle of the playing area, with one on offense with a ball and the other on defense.
  • Teams can advance the ball by passing to closer to their assigned cone. If the defense steals the ball or a pass is deflected, the possession changes. Teams may pass to the coach if they get stuck and need an outlet.
  • Teams score by knocking down their assigned cone with a pass. Defenders may not guard the cones. Continue the game to a set score or time.


  • Allow players to 2 or 3 dribbles only before a pass.

Key Points

Players must move without the ball and work to get open by making quick cuts. Make sure offensive players use pass fakes and pivots to create open passing lanes.



Compliment Session


Gather the players together. Players group with 1-2 players next to them and share answers to the prompted questions.

  • Ask players to share something they did well, what enjoyed about today’s practice or something positive about another player’s actions.
  • Have players switch groups and ask some players to share their groups answers. Coach can build onto the player responses.

Key Points

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

3v3 Champions Court

(games to 3)
  • Create teams of 3 players each. One team will start on defense and one team will start at half-court next to the coach. The teams that are waiting to rotate in will stand off the court and pass the ball to each other.
  • The game starts when the offensive team gives a high five to the coach and tries to score on the defensive team. Play continues until the offensive team scores or the defensive team gets a steal or a rebound.
  • If the offense scores, they get the ball, sprint back to half-court, give the coach a high five and then try to score again as quickly as they can. If the defense gets a steal or a rebound, they sprint to half-court, give the coach a high-five, and then become the offensive team. Meanwhile, the losing team passes the ball to the next team in line and rotates off. The team rotating in on defense must quickly get ready to play defense.


  • Instead of giving a high five to the coach the team can score a basket at the other end and come back to play.
  • Have a 3v3 Champions court game going on at both ends. If a team scores they run to play offense on the court at the other end. A new team waiting fills in on defense. This will mix up the match ups.


  • Emphasize different basketball concepts by giving them an extra point. You could use give and go, rebounds, lay ups etc.


  • If you have uneven numbers and substitutions on the team, they are the coach while their team is on the court.


  • The coach can move around the court for the players to give high fives. The further away the coach is the more time the new team has to come in on defense.

Key Points

At this point in the season the players should have a good rapport with the coach and teammates. Coaches should reinforce the teaching points they’ve made throughout the season by encouraging the defense to communicate and be accountable on and off the ball, and remind the players to move and share the ball offensively.

Skills Checklist

At the conclusion of the Rookie 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




          Footwork & Conditioning