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


Avoid the Coach Game

(2-3 minutes)
  • All the players start on the baseline.
  • When the coach says “GO!” all players will try to run to the other baseline.
  • The coach starts at half court and tries to tag as many players as possible before they reach the opposite baseline.
  • If a player is tagged by the coach, they will also be a tagger with the coach.
  • Repeat the same process until all players have been tagged.

Building Skills


Ball Handling

Running Dribble Right/Left/Crossover

(2 x each)
  • 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.


Follow the Leader

(3 x 1 minute)
  • All players will have a ball and the 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, etc).
  • Players must follow the leader and do whatever the leader does.
  • The leader will do the action for 10-20 repetitions before changing to another action (i.e. shuffle/lateral dribble).
  • The leader remains the leader for 1 minute.
  • If the players are capable being the leaders, allow that as well.

The Zig Zag Drill

(2 x down and back)
  • Have the players start in two lines in opposite corners where the baseline and sideline meet.
  • Place cones every 5-10 feet apart at opposite angles from each other.
  • The players will start by dribbling from the starting point to the first cone.
  • At the first cone, the players will make a move you have designated (Rookie Level-crossover) and continue to the next cone.
  • The players will again make the move you have designated and continue to the next cones and continue the process.
  • When the players finish, they should dribble along the baseline and begin the same process coming back in the opposite direction.

Key Points

This drill allows the players to work on changing directions and making a moving crossover. Make sure the players stay low on the crossover and push off their outside foot to change directions.



Slide & Pass Drill

(2 sets of each pass)
  • Have players partner up with one ball and stand on the baseline about 6 feet apart.
  • The players will sit in a good stance and slide to half court while making a chest or bounce pass to each other.
  • Once all the groups have gone, they will repeat the same thing coming back for 1 rep.
  • Be sure to make both the chest and bounce.

Key Points

Emphasize good low slides, showing a target, hitting the target and working together.


Fundamentals of Using the Backboard

  • Using the backboard can be helpful in many situations. If you watch an NBA game you will see the players use the backboard often to help make certain shots easier. When using the backboard it is important to aim for the square!

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

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.

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.

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.



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.

2 on 2 Numbers Game

(games to 5)
  • 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.

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 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