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 6

Cultivating Values & Developing Wellness



  • Explain the basic rules and why we have them.
  • Is it fair to break the rules?
  • The rules of basketball are important. They keep the game safe and fun. If you play outside the rules, you or someone else may get hurt, and they may try to retaliate and hurt you. Plus, even if you get away with breaking rules, it is not much fun to succeed or win by breaking the rules. It’s important in basketball and in the rest of life to follow the rules.

Warm Up


NBA Tag Game

(2 games)
  • All players start on the baseline. The coach picks two or three NBA teams and tells all players to select one of the three teams. For example: Bucks, Lakers, Magic.
  • The coach stands at center court and calls out one of the three teams. All players on that team must try and run across the court to the opposite baseline without getting tagged by the coach. If a player is tagged they must sit or kneel on the court wherever they were tagged. If the coach calls out “NBA!” then all players try to cross at the same time.
  • Repeat the same process until there are only 2 or 3 players left. Those players then become the taggers for the next game.


  • All players have a basketball and must dribble across the court. If they are tagged, they must dribble in place while seated or kneeling on the court.

Key Points

Reference the value of the day, fairness, by making sure players sit or take a knee if they are tagged and don’t try to cheat. Acknowledge players that are honest and admit when they are tagged.

Building Skills


Ball Handling

Follow the Leader

(3 x 1 minute)
  • All players will have a ball and will spread out in a straight line behind the coach.
  • The coach will be the first leader and will walk/jog around the gym doing any action (i.e. circling the basketball around their waste, dribbling with one hand).
  • Players must follow the leader and do whatever the leader does.
  • The leader will do the action for 5-15 seconds before changing to another action (i.e. shuffle/lateral dribble).
  • The leader remains the leader for 1 minute. Then have the leader give a high-five to another player or coach to become the new leader.

Transfer the Treasure

(2 games)
  • All players will start on the baseline with a ball. The coach (or player) will start at half court facing the opposite direction. The coach or player at half court will be surrounded by cones (treasure).
  • The players on the baseline will try to dribble and pick up the treasure, and dribble it back to the baseline.
  • If the coach (or player) turns and sees a player moving towards the treasure they can run and try to tag them. If the player makes it back to the baseline without being tagged they are safe. If they are tagged and have any treasure they will lose the treasure.
  • The first player with 3 pieces of treasure on the baseline is the Winner.


  • Divide the players into teams and allow them to work together strategically to finish the game with the most cones.


  • Instead of dribbling to the baseline for safety, challenge the players with a combination dribble move that they have to complete quickly before being tagged. If they have treasure they can drop it and complete the dribble combination to be “safe.”

Key Points

Make sure to place the treasure at a fair distance for players to reach and for all players to have a chance.

Swipers Game

(1 game)
  • Divide the players into two teams. One team will have basketballs and will dribble around the court. The other team will move around waiting on the coach to call “Swipers”.
  • When the coach says “Swipers” the team without the basketballs can go try to knock the ball away from players with the basketballs.
  • If the ball gets knocked away from a player, they must go get the ball and put it over their head.
  • If a teammate with a ball rolls their ball between their teammates legs, it allows the teammate to begin dribbling again.
  • The game should last two minutes before switching teams.
  • There should be no contact between players in this game. Swipers can only touch the ball.


  • After losing their ball to a swiper, a player does ‘air squats’ while waiting for a ball to be rolled.


  • Add balls to the swipers. They will need to keep their dribble when swiping.


Pass Tag

(2 games)
  • Create two teams and assign one of the teams as the “taggers.” The taggers start with one basketball for the whole team. Use inside of the three-point arc as a playing space.
  • The tagging team must try and tag every player on the other team, but only the player with the ball can tag. The taggers pass the ball from player to player in order to get close enough to tag, but cannot dribble or move with the ball. When a player is tagged, they exit the playing area but can stand outside the boundary and deflect any passes from the tagging team.
  • When all players are tagged out, switch roles and start the next game. The team that tags all their opponents in the shortest time wins!


  • The non-taggers all have basketballs and must dribble to avoid the taggers.
  • Make the playing area smaller by using only the free-throw Lane.

Key Points

The tagging team should work together and never stay stationary. Players should try and use different types of passes: bounce, chest, and passes from the hips or shoulders.


Block to Block Shooting Drill

(2 x 30 seconds)
  • Have the players partner up with a basketball at a basket.
  • 1 player will start with the ball on the block.
  • When it’s time to start that player will shoot and quickly run to the other block.
  • The player or the partner will rebound the ball and pass to the shooter on the other block quickly.
  • The shooter will continue going back and forth after every shot and the rebounder will continue to help rebound and pass the ball if needed.
  • After 30 seconds switch and let the players change roles.

jrnba_rookie_pp6_blocktoblockshooting-drill_diagram1of3 jrnba_rookie_pp6_blocktoblockshooting-drill_diagram2of3 jrnba_rookie_pp6_blocktoblockshooting-drill_diagram3of3


  • Partners count how many makes the shooter has so they can try to beat their previous score.


  • Players can move back or up the free throw line and adjust their shooting angle on the backboard.
  • Rebounders can put a hand up as a distraction when the shooter is shooting. If the defense is too close to shoot, the shooter leaves the ball and cuts to the other block to receive a new pass.

Key Points

Have the players work on using the backboard and hitting the square. Also have the partners count how many makes the shooter has so that they can try to beat their previous best score.


1-2 Step Lay-Ups

(3 x 1 minute each)
  • All players should have a partner and 1 ball per group.
  • There can be at least 3 partner groups per basket (side, middle, side).
  • One player will line up 3 to 6 feet away from the basket and the other partner will stand just behind the basket.
  • When coach says “1. 2.” The player will take 1-2 steps and perform a lay-up shooting for the square on the backboard.
  • The players will not dribble the ball.
  • The partner will grab the rebound and give it back to the shooter to repeat.
  • That player will work for 1-minute before switching with the partner.


  • Have players perform a “2 foot power layup” by jump stopping close to the hoop and shooting off two feet.


  • Make this drill into a game by challenging each group to be the first to make 10 layups.

Key Points

Emphasize the correct hand and foot until the movement becomes natural for the players.

Competitive Drills

Make For a Cone Game

(games of 3 minutes each)
  • Players are separated into 2 even teams and go to 2 designated spots at a basket (the wings, elbows, corners etc).
  • There should be a line of cones equal to the number of players on each team that lines up next to the team.
  • The first player from each line will shoot the basketball get their rebound and pass to the next person on their team.
  • If the player makes the shot, they will take a cone from the other team and put it in their line of cones and move to the back of the line.
  • If the player misses the shot, they will get the rebound and pass to the next person on their team and continue to the back of the line without getting a cone from the other team.
  • After 3 minutes, the team with the most cones wins.

Footwork and Conditioning

Zig-Zag V Jumps

(2 x each player)
  • Divide the players into groups and Place five cones in the shape of a “V” – 1 cone, 2 cones, 2 cones.
  • Have the players start at the bottom of the V.
  • The first will jump with two feet from the bottom cone to the next cone and then zig zag jump forward with two feet until the last cone.
  • After this, the player goes to the back of the line for that group and the next player begins jumping.

Key Points

Make sure the players have good body control and balance as they jump. As they get better have them try to perform the drill quicker.

Team Concepts


Defense, I Love It Drill

(2 x 30 seconds)
  • Have the players spread out on the court in front of the coach.
  • When the coach says “Defense!” have the players slap the floor and get in a defensive stance while saying “I love it!”
  • Have the players stay in a good defensive stance until the coach again says “Defense!”
  • After 30 seconds, let the players rest and do it again.

Key Points

Make sure the players have a lot of energy and enjoy this. Also ensure they have good form in the defensive stance.

Windows Defensive Slide Drill

(4 minutes)
  • The players will partner up with one basketball with each group. Players setup cones or other objects about 6-8 feet apart, making a “window.”
  • One partner will stand in between the two cones in a defensive stance. The other partner will attempt to roll the ball through the “window.” The defender must slide their feet laterally to stop the ball from getting through the window.
  • Switch positions after 1-2 minutes and see who can get the most deflections!


  • Instead of rolling the ball through the “window” offensive players try to dribble through it. Defensive players must slide their feet to cut off the offensive player.

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.



Defense Wins Championships!

(games to 5)
  • The game starts with 2 players each on offense and defense in a half court. When the coach passes the ball to the offense, the game is live.
  • If the defense gets a steal or a defensive rebound, the possession ends and they get a point. They stay on defense and two new offensive players rotate for the next round.
  • If the offense scores, the two offensive players get to switch to defense for the next round, and two new offensive players rotate in.
  • The coach can act as a 3rd offensive player, providing a passing outlet if offensive players get stuck.
  • The first team to score 5 points wins and a new game starts.

Key Points

The only way to score in this game is on defense, so players must use the defensive skills they learned in previous practices. Rotations should happen quickly, with no possession lasting longer than 30 seconds. Coaches can end a certain rotation and bring in new players if a possession is running too long.

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.

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