Starter Practice Plans

Welcome to the Starter Level practice plans. At the Starter Level, the fundamental skills will be honed and expanded upon while the players develop an understanding of what it means to be a part of a team.

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Starter Practice Plan 1

Cultivating Values & Developing Wellness



  • Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) shares that teamwork is all about trust, and trust is a key component to any team. Whether it’s your family, your friends, your co-workers later in life or your basketball teammates at any level, trust is critical.
  • You want to be able to trust your teammates (especially to call out screens!), and you want your teammates to trust you. As you work to build a team that trusts each other, remember you have to give trust to get trust, and once you have trust, teamwork is second nature.

Warm Up


Fundamentals of Warming-Up

  • Warming up is an extremely important part of basketball. Players should make sure their bodies are prepared to play by getting their muscles loose and their body temperature up. Warming up can keep players healthy, lengthen playing careers, and help players do their best.

Run to That Line

(1 x 5 lines)
  • Walk around the court with the players and identify spaces on the
    court (half court, 3-point line, sideline, and more).
  •  Have the players repeat the names of each area you identify.
  • Coach calls out a movement and a line or space on the court for
    the players. Example: “High Knees to the baseline!”
  • Movements: Forward/Backward/Lateral March, Forward/
    Backward/Lateral Skip, High Knees, Quick Feet. Incorporate
    movements from other sports: swimming arms, skating action,
    long jump, cricket or baseball swing or soccer ball dribble.

Key Points

Teach the players about the court while incorporating fundamental movement skills.

Building Skills


Ball Handling

Ball Rubs

(1 x 10 seconds)
  • All players need a basketball (or share) and should stand on the sideline.
  • Players should be in a stance with their legs wide and their chest up.
  • The players will hold the ball with both hands in front of them and use each hand to continuously rub the ball firmly.
  • The players will execute this for the allotted amount of time and then move on to the next drill.

Key Points

Get a good feel for the ball and warm-up the fingers and hands.

Single Leg Wraps

(2 x 20 seconds each leg)
  • All players need a basketball (or share) and should stand on the sideline.
  • Players should be in a stance with their legs wide and their chest up.
  • The players will then wrap the ball around one leg for 10 seconds and then change directions for 10 seconds.
  • The players will then do the same activity on the other leg which completes one set.

Key Points

Get comfortable with the ball, warm-up the fingers and hands, and develop the ability to control the ball. Be sure to have the players keep their chest and eyes up. Help the players feel confident moving the ball as if it is an extension of themself. Push the players to wrap the ball fast in order to challenge their control.

Seated Dribbling

(1 x 20 seconds each hand)
  • All players need a basketball (or share) and should sit on the sideline.
  • The players will put the ball out to the side of their body and begin dribbling.
  • The dribbles should be low and quick, mostly using the fingertips.
  • The players will do this for the allocated amount of time and switch to the other.

Key Points

Get comfortable with the ball, warm-up the fingers and hands, develop the ability to control the ball. Encourage the players to keep their eyes up and challenge them by requiring them to keep the ball further away from their body.

3-3-3 Dribble Drill

(2 x 20 seconds)
  • All players need a basketball (or share) and should stand on the sideline.
  • The players will start in a good stance with their knees bent and eyes up and take 3 dribbles with their right hand.
  • Next the players will complete 3 crossover dribbles.
  • Then the players will execute 3 dribbles with their left hand.
  • The players will go back to 3 crossover dribbles and then 3 right handed dribbles and continue the process for the allotted amount of time.

Key Points

This drill will work on low controlled dribbles with both hands as well as the crossover.

Cone Dribbling

(1 x 3 minutes with variations)
  • 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.



  • Have one or two players act as defenders and stand in place of the cones in each line. The defender will either jump in the path of the ball-handler or stay in their position. If the defender jumps in the path, the ball-handler switches hands as they change directions. If the defender stays in place, the ball-handler continues on their path to the next cone.


  • Make this a relay race. The first team to finish wins!

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.



Fundamentals of the Overhead Pass

  • The overhead pass is a strong pass that is executed by holding the ball firmly over the head with 2 hands. The player will then step to generate momentum and make a strong pass to a teammate.
  • The overhead pass is often used for longer distance passes, skip passes, and outlet passes.

Key Points

Players should not bring the ball back behind their head as it opens up opportunities for players behind them to steal it. Keep the ball nice and strong above the head while maintaining good body control, strength and balance.

Overhead Pass Drill

(1 x 1 minute)
  • Have players partner up, get a basketball and line up about 10 feet apart.
  • Based on the fundamental passing skills and wall passing previously taught, have the players now step and pass to their partner.
  • The 2 partners will make overhead passes to each other for 2 sets of 60 seconds and then do the same thing with chest passes.

Key Points

Ensure that the players make eye contact before passing and the receiver shows their hands as a target. The players should take a big step towards their partner, extend their elbows and snap their down to make a good pass.


Form Shooting – 1 Hand

(2 x 10)
  • 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 lift the ball in that one hand so that their elbow is underneath it and their palm is facing the sky.
  • 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.

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.

1-2 Step Lay-Ups

(1 x 2 minutes each side)
  • 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.

Shooting Line Game

(games to 8 makes)
  • Divide the players into two or more group lines and have each group at a designated shooting spot on the court.
  • The group lines will operate as a team and keep their score together.
  • The players will shoot one time, get their rebound, give it to the next player and return to the back of the same line.
  • Continue this drill until one team makes the designated number of shots. Then switch spots and repeat.



  • Instead of counting made shots, now the teams will try to spell a word and the first team to spell the word wins. Teams are awarded a letter for every made shot helping them spell a fun word. Sample words include: Jr. NBA, Champs, Shooters, Team etc.”

Key Points

Have the players count the makes out loud for all teams to hear. Encourage the players to cheer for their teammates and utilize the shooting form they have worked on.


Footwork and Conditioning

Jump Stop Fundamental Skill

  • The act of landing on both feet at the same time when either receiving a pass or after a player’s last dribble. Landing on both feet at the same time helps the player gain balance, and allows the player to use either foot as a pivot foot.
  • The players should keep their eyes and chest up and stay balanced by having their knees bent.

Jump Stop Drill With Ball

(2 x down and back)
  • Players should form balanced lines on the baseline and the first player in each line will start in an athletic stance.
  • The first player in each line will jog to the foul line and make a deliberate jump stop at the foul line.
  • On the whistle, the players will repeat at half court, the opposite foul line, and the opposite baseline.
  • Once the group in front of the player moves towards the next jump stop location, the next player begins the same process.
  • The players will wait at the opposite baseline until all the players finish and then do the same process going back.

Key Points

To ensure balance, have the players land in the jump stop position and count to 3 before blowing the whistle to allow them to jog to the next spot.

Team Concepts


The Pass is Faster Drill

(2 x down and back each player)
  • Have players divided into groups of 3 and designate each player as 1, 2 or 3.
  • Player 1 should start on the baseline with a ball. Player 2 should stand across from player 1 at the free throw line without a ball. Player 3 should start on the baseline next to player 1 with a ball.
  • When the coach says “go,” player 1 will pass the ball to player 2. At the same time, player 3 will dribble and jump stop right next to player 2.
  • Repeat this action with the pass back from player 2 to player 1 while player 3 dribbles the same distance and jump stops next to player 1. Repeat and change positions.

jrnba_starter_pp1_passisfasterdrill_diagram1of2 jrnba_starter_pp1_passisfasterdrill_diagram2of2


Key Points

This drill works on passing, receiving, dribbling and jump stops. Continually emphasize that the pass moves faster than the ball.

Defensive Stance Fundamental Skill

  • The position used by defenders in which they have their knees bent, feet a little more than shoulder width apart with their toes and knees facing forward, their eyes up and their hands outstretched and active. From this position they can easily move in any direction.

Defense, I Love It Drill

(2 x 5)
  • 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.



Dribble Relays

(2 x)
  • Divide the players into even groups and have them line up on the baseline with the first person in line with a ball.
  • Designate an end line for the relay race depending on your court space. It could be the opposite baseline, the half-court line, or any other line.
  • On the coach’s command the first player will dribble to the designated end line, jump stop, pick up their ball and back-pedal back to their line. Once they get back to their line, they give the next player in line a high five and give them the ball.
  • Once everybody has gone 3 times, the team has finished.
  • Next do the same thing with the other hand.

jrnba_rookie_pp11_dribble-relays_diagram1of2 jrnba_rookie_pp11_dribble-relays_diagram2of2


  • Instead of backpedaling, have players defensive slide or turn and sprint back to their lines.

Key Points

Make sure the players have a lot of energy and enjoy this. Encourage the players to be good teammates throughout this game.

3 on 3 Numbers Game

(games to 5)
  • 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 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 Starter 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