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 8

Cultivating Values & Developing Wellness


Respect: Coaches

  • Have the players define respect.
  • Discuss what it means to respect your coach.
  • 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


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

Dribble Balance

(3 x 20 seconds each leg)
  • 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.

Cone Dribbling

(3 x down and back)
  • Divide the group into even groups.
  • Place five cones from sideline to sideline in a straight line for each group.
  • The first player in each line will have a ball.
  • The player will dribble through the cones in a zig-zag motion switching hands as they change directions all the way past the last cone and then stop.
  • Once the player is half way through the cones, the next player can begin.
  • After all the players in the group have dribbled through the cones, the first player will repeat the process by going back through the cones in the opposite direction.


Key Points

Make sure the players are staying low and controlling the dribble. The players should also be pushing off their outside foot to change directions.


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.

Capture the Cones Game

(2 x 4 minutes)
  • Divide the players into four teams and assign them a corner.
  • Each teams’ goal is to collect cones from other teams’ corners and place them in their own corner.
  • Players are not allowed to protect their team’s corner.
  • Coaches can tag players which means the player must return the cone they have from where they took it from.
  • The game will end after 4 minutes and the team with the most cones wins.
  • Make sure players dribble at all times and encourage them to go for the cones diagonal from them.

Footwork and Conditioning

Cone Jump & Pass Drill

(1 x 3 minutes)
  • Place 3 cones in a line close to a wall (about 8 feet away).
  • Place a basketball on top of (or next to) the cone closest to the wall.
  • Based on number of players, provide this setup again.
  • Players will jump over the first two cones and land in front of the 3rd cone with a basketball on it.
  • The player will then pick up the basketball and pass the ball at an imaginary target on the wall.
  • They player will catch the ball when it bounces back and put the ball back on the cone and go to the back of the line.
  • The next player will repeat the process and the group will continue by moving quickly.

Key Points

Make sure the players are balanced and jump quickly. Emphasize having the players hitting a target on the wall!


Open & Decide Drill

(3 minutes)
  • Have the players start in a line at the free throw line with the first player having a ball in a triple threat stance with their eyes closed.
  • Have another 2 players, 1 standing on each block and a coach or 4th player guarding one of those players.
  • The player with the ball will open their eyes on the whistle and make a quick decision to pass to the open player who will then shoot a lay-up while the defender will try to contest the shot.
  • The passer will now take the place of the shooter. The shooter will take the place of the defender and the defender will go to the back of the line.
  • Keep a tally of how many made baskets the team scores in 3 minutes so you can compete against this number in later practices.

Key Points

Make sure the defender clearly guards one player and does not leave that player until the pass is made! Have the player make a quick decision and a good pass to their teammate. Next, make sure the receiver of the pass works on finishing the shots with a defender contesting. Since the team is trying to make the most shots possible, ensure that the defense contests hard.


Form Shooting – 2 Hands

(3 x 8)
  • Have the players partner up with a basketball at a basket.
  • The players should stand within a few feet of the basket and put the ball in their dominant hand in front of them.
  • Have the players hold the ball with their elbow underneath it, and their palm facing the sky.
  • The player will then add their off hand as support.
  • When the player is ready, they should extend their knees and arm at the same time to shoot for the basket.
  • Have the players hold their follow-through until the shot goes through the basket or misses.
  • Have more than 1 partner per at a basket to maximize reps, space and time.

Key Points

Have the players start with their knees bent, elbow in and extend their follow-through with their elbow high and wrist flipped so that the ball has good arc and rotation.

Around the World

(1 game)
  • Place five cones around the court as five shooting spots and divide the players evenly at the cones.
  • The first player in each line will have a basketball.
  • Each player will shoot the ball, get their rebound, and return to the back of that same line.
  • The players will cycle through so that each player gets 3 shots from that specific spot.
  • After these 3 attempts by everybody, all groups will rotate to the next spot and repeat until each team has shot at all five spots.
  • The team will count their total makes as they go around and the team with the most makes, wins.

Team Concepts


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.

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Key Points

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



Lay-Up Bowling

(1-2 games)
  • Divide the players into 2 teams and have them line up on opposite baselines.
  • The coach will set up 3 cones about 2 or 3 feet apart on the opposite baseline from each teams’ line.
  • Each team will have 2 balls. 1 with the player in the front of the line and 1 off to the side.
  • The first player will dribble to the opposite end of the court and shoot a lay-up.
  • The player will dribble the ball all the way back to the next
    player in line.
  • If the player misses the lay-up, they will go to the back of the line, but if the player makes the lay-up, they will go pick up the extra ball to the side and bowl/roll it towards the cones at the opposite end.
  • 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.



3 on 3 Numbers Game

(games to 3)
  • 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

  • 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