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 9

Cultivating Values & Developing Wellness


Respect: Teammates

  • Have players discuss what it means to respect our teammates.
  • Encourage the players to lead by example.
  • Basketball brings people together like nothing else can. It’s a team game, and often teammates become and remain friends for life, on the court and off. That’s why it’s critical to respect teammates. You must be able to communicate well to play well as a team, and you must care about each other enough to sacrifice for the good of the team.

Warm Up


Skip Tag

(1 game)
  • Designate boundaries (such as staying inside of half court) and have all players stand inside that area.
  • One player or the coach will be designated as “it”.
  • All players, including the person who is “it,” will skip around the court. Skipping is the only movement players are allowed to do.
  • When a player is tagged, the game is put on pause so that all players can now see that the new player is now also “it” in helping the original person who is “it” in tagging others.

Key Points

Make sure players do not run and only skip.

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.

Dribble Balance Push

(2 x down and back)
  • 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.


Over/Under Relay

(1 game)
  • The players will be divided into even groups and line up on the baseline.
  • The player in front of each line will have a basketball.
  • The player in the front of each line will dribble three times with their right hand.
  • After the three dribbles, the player will hand the ball either over their head or under their legs to the player behind them.
  • The next player will dribble three times with their right hand and then will hand the ball to the next person by doing the opposite (over the head, or under the legs) of how they received the ball.
  • The team will repeat this process until the ball reaches the last player.
  • Once the last player has the ball, they will run to the front of the line and start the process again now dribbling with their left hand.
  • When the ball reaches the last player this time, the game is over


Who Is Ready Drill

(2 minutes)
  • 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.

Keep Away Game

(30 seconds each)
  • Divide the players into groups of five. Four of the players will be active in the drill while one of the players will be in the rest station.
  • Set 4 cones up in a square and 1 cone off to the side. The cone off to the side will be the rest station.
  • Three players will play offense and one player will play defense.
  • The three offensive players will each stand at a different cone leaving one cone open.
  • The defensive player will stand in the middle of the cones.
  • The player with the ball can only pass left or right and cannot pass the ball across to the opposite side.
  • The players who do not have the ball must either receive the pass or “fill in” the open spot.
  • The defensive will try their best to steal the ball within 30 seconds before rotating positions.
  • The player that was playing defense will rotate to the rest station.

jrnba_rookie_pp9_keepawaygame_diagram1of4 jrnba_rookie_pp9_keepawaygame_diagram2of4 jrnba_rookie_pp9_keepawaygame_diagram3of4 jrnba_rookie_pp9_keepawaygame_diagram4of4

Pass It Down the Line Game

(1 minute per group)
  • Divide the players into 2 even groups with 1 group on both sidelines without a basketball.
  • Have the other group start with a basketball on the baseline.
  • The player with the basketball will pass the ball and receive the ball back from each of the players lined up on the sideline.
  • After they have made and received a pass from the last player, the player will dribble the ball to the basket for a lay-up.
  • After the lay-up, the player will get their rebound and continue by coming up the other side of the court.
  • This process will continue for 3 minutes.
  • Count how many lay-ups that team makes in 3 minutes before switching the groups.

jrnba_rookie_pp9_passitdownthelinegame_diagram1of6 jrnba_rookie_pp9_passitdownthelinegame_diagram2of6 jrnba_rookie_pp9_passitdownthelinegame_diagram3of6 jrnba_rookie_pp9_passitdownthelinegame_diagram4of6 jrnba_rookie_pp9_passitdownthelinegame_diagram5of6 jrnba_rookie_pp9_passitdownthelinegame_diagram6of6


Toss & Get It Drill

(2 minutes each side)
  • 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.


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.

Jump Stop Shooting Game

(games to 6)
  • Have the players divide into as many as 4 groups at shooting spots (wings & slots) and the first player in each line will have a ball. The player at the front of each line should have a ball.
  • The players will dribble in to the cone setup a few feet from the basket, jump stop and shoot, get their rebound and give it to the next player in line.
  • The first team to 6 made baskets wins.

Key Points

Work on a good jump stop, being balanced and making shots moving at game speed.

Team Concepts


Reverse the Ball Drill

(games to 8)
  • Start with a player on the wing. Place another player at the top of the key and another player on the opposite wing, and the remaining players in a line under the basket as rebounders.
  • The player at the front of the line on the wing will start with the ball in a triple threat stance and when the coach says “Reverse the ball!” the player will pass the ball to the top of the key.
  • The player at the top of the key will quickly catch and pass the ball to the other wing so that the ball has been “reversed” to the other side.
  • When the player on the opposite wing catches the ball, they will shoot the ball and then go to the rebounding line.
  • The player that gets the rebound will make an outlet pass to the wing where the ball started and then go to the end of that line.
  • The player who passed from wing will move to the top, the player from the top will move to the shooting wing, and the wing that started the drill will move to the top.
  • Have a group at another basket doing the same thing and compete to 8 makes and then change directions and then change to a 1 dribble pull up for 2 games.

jrnba_rookie_pp7_reversetheballdrill_diagram1of4 jrnba_rookie_pp7_reversetheballdrill_diagram2of4 jrnba_rookie_pp7_reversetheballdrill_diagram3of4 jrnba_rookie_pp7_reversetheballdrill_diagram4of4


Key Points

To ensure balance, have the players land in the jump stop position and count to 3 before jogging to the next spot.



Coach Says

(1-2 games)
  • Coach says is similar to Simon says.
  • The objective is to do everything the coach instructs, but the coach must first say “Coach Says” before every request.
  • If the player does the action that a coach says without the coach first saying “Coach Says,” they player is out.
  • When the coach states “Coach says defense!” the players will slap the ground and yell “Defense!” as they assume the defensive stance.
  • When the coach states “Coach says this way” and points in a direction, all players will quickly hop and twist there body to face that direction and immediately hop back facing the coach.
  • When coach states “Coach says foot fire!” the players will quickly tap their feet against the floor as fast as they can while yelling.
  • When the coach states “Coach says up!” the players will jump as high as they can to grab an imaginary ball with their arms and yell “Rebound!”
  • Coaches can add other elements but remember this is a listening game and the player is out if the player does something that the coach didn’t preface with “Coach Says”.
  • The game finishes when there is just one player remaining.

Key Points

If the players do a great job listening be creative with what you ask them to do in an effort to trick the players.

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