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 10

Cultivating Values & Developing Wellness



  • It is important for basketball players to stay positive. There are so many opportunities in games and practices for things to go wrong – from missed shots (even the well-chosen ones with perfect form!) to mental mistakes and miscommunication on defense – that teammates must support each other and help each other past mistakes.
  • Even if you are not the best athlete or basketball player, you can contribute to team success more than you ever imagined just with vocal encouragement, smiles, head nods and daps. It is not easy to stay positive with yourself and your teammates when times are tough, but the more you do, the quicker those tough times pass and the stronger your team will be when you come through on the other side.

Warm Up


Active Warm-Up Part 2

(1 x each from baseline to half court)
  • Backward Jog
  • 2 Foot Hop
  • Stance Lateral Chop
  • Skip Arm Swings
  • Stance Resistance
  • Bent Knee Side Plank
  • Jog to Sprint
  • Jog & Turn

Building Skills


Ball Handling

Toss & Catch with Clap

(1 x 45 seconds)
  • Players need a basketball (or share) and should find space on the court facing the coach.
  • With two hands on the ball, the players will toss the ball into the air and catch it on its way down.
  • The players can toss the ball higher if they are comfortable.
  • The coach can have the players work together or at their own speed and should feel free to add wrinkles to the drill.

Key Points

Develop hand-eye coordination and familiarity with the ball by tossing and catching it at different heights. Emphasize a controlled toss and a soft catch.

Low, Middle, High Dribble

(2 x 20 seconds each level & each hand)
  • All players need a basketball (or share) and should stand on the sideline.
  • The players will start by dribbling the basketball with the right hand low in a good stance with their eyes up and using their left arm to protect the ball.
  • The players will do this for 20 seconds and then switch to their left hand and complete the same process.
  • Next the player will move back to their right hand and dribble at the middle level for 20 seconds and then switch hands.
  • Last, the players will dribble the ball high, around shoulder level for 20 seconds each hand.
  • Throughout this drill, the coach will hold up a variety of numbers of fingers. The players must see the fingers and call out the number.


  • Have the players get into pairs and stand a short distance apart facing each other. One partner will be the leader and dribble with either hand low, middle or high. The other partner will try to mirror the leader. The leader will continue to change their dribble hand and level of the dribble in an effort to “lose” the other partner. Switch partners and continue.


  • Have the players get into pairs and find a line on the court. Both partners have a ball and stand on opposite sides of the line shoulder to shoulder. Both players will start dribbling with their outside hand with the goal of getting two feet on the other side of the line. This will require the players to stay low, be physical, and use their lower body and shoulder to move over the line while dribbling.

Key Points

Keep the players in a good stance with their chest and eyes up. Remind them to use their fingertips and execute low, middle, and high quick dribbles to improve coordination and ball control.

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.


Dribble Knockout

(2 games)
  • All players need a basketball and should start inside of half court or the 3-point line, depending on the number of players.
  • The players must dribble the ball without picking it up, double dribbling or going out of bounds. All players should try to knock the other player’s ball away while dribbling.
  • The goal is to be the last player still dribbling.
  • As the number of players still in gets lower, change the out of bounds area to a smaller area such as inside the 3-point line or lane or the circle at 1/2 court.


  • To minimize player down-time after getting eliminated, create a second game in another area of the court that will run simultaneously, or have players practicing dribbling moves on the sideline until the game ends.

Key Points

Work on ball-handling in a fun game setting. Instruct players to keep their heads up while dribbling.


Circle Pass Drill

(1 x 45 seconds each type of pass)
  • Players should start in a circle with one player in the middle.
  • One player will have the ball and pass the ball to the player in the middle.
  • After making the pass, the player will follow their pass and go to the middle.
  • The player in the middle will quickly catch and pass to the next person in the circle and follow their pass.
  • This cycle will continue quickly as the ball goes all the way around.

jrnba_starter_pp6_circlepassdrill_diagram1of3 jrnba_starter_pp6_circlepassdrill_diagram2of3 jrnba_starter_pp6_circlepassdrill_diagram3of3

Key Points

This should be a fun, quick game in which the players work on making good passes.

Partner Running Pass Drill

(2 x down & back)
  • Have the players partner up and get 1 ball.
  • The players will line up on the baseline next to their partner.
  • The first partner pair will run very close (inside the lane line extended) and pass the ball back and forth all the way down the court to each other.
  • They will shoot a lay-up when they get to the other end.
  • The next group will go immediately behind them.
  • After all groups have gone, the groups will repeat coming back.
  • This time they will take one step further apart from each other so the passes are a further distance as they run.
  • Continue this process and have the players run and pass further from each other every trip to build on running and passing.

Key Points

Try to not drop any passes! Call each others name and lead the player with the pass.


2-Bounce Shooting Game

(games to 5)
  • Have 4 players at a basket each with a ball.
  • The players will start outside the 3 point line and take 1 dribble toward the basket and take a shot.
  • After the shot, the shooter must get to the rebound before the ball bounces 2 times.
  • If the ball bounces 2 times then the make does not count.
  • Once the player has the rebound, they will take the ball back out to the perimeter where they will repeat the process until somebody has made 5 shots to win.

Key Points

Make sure the players are hustling for their rebounds.

Footwork and Conditioning

On the Whistle Jump Stop

(2 minutes)
  • Have the players dribble around the court working on their ball-handling.
  • When the coach blows the whistle, all the players will jump stop and sit in a good stance.
  • Repeat this process working on ball-handling and a good jump stop.

Key Points

Have all the players work on their ball-handling while moving around the court. Each player should quickly react to the whistle with a good, balanced jump stop.

Tuck Back Drill

(2 x 6 each way)
  • All players need a basketball or pretend to have a ball and should stand in an open space on the court.
  • Have the players face forward in a triple threat position.
  • When the coach says “tuck back!” have the players say “strong!” while dropping their right foot and putting the ball on their right hip.
  • When the coach says “over!” have the players step forward with their right foot while turning 90 degrees.
  • When the coach says “triple threat!” the players will return back to the triple threat stance until the coach says relax.

Key Points

This drill should emphasize toughness, footwork and maintaining a strong stance with the ball. Help the players understand the carry over in game situations.

Change of Speed Drill

(3 x down and back)
  • Have all players with a ball and divided into balanced lines on the baseline.
  • The first person in each line will start by jogging and dribbling to the free throw line. At the free throw line, the players will change speeds and explode out to half court.
  • At half court the players will change speeds back to a jog until the opposite free throw line and then again explode out to the baseline.
  • The first set should be down and back with the right hand, the second set with the left hand and the 3rd set with crossovers at the change of speed.

Key Points

This drill works on developing rhythm and timing with the dribble. Being able to change speeds well, will help the players be harder to guard.

Team Concepts


2-on-1 Fast Break Drill

(3 minutes)
  • Start with 2 lines at half court and one line with a ball.
  • Have a defender starting at the top of the key.
  • Have the 2 offensive players attack to try to score in a 2 on 1 fast break setting.
  • The player who takes the shot or turns the ball over will then become the defensive player at the top of the key.
  • The other players will go to the back of the lines at half court

Key Points

Work on good fast break decision making while also working on good 2 on 1 defense.

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. Players stay low in an athletic stance, call ‘ball’ and use their ball side hand to trace the ball.
  • The player with the ball will move the ball around on the same side of their body for 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 ensuring good close outs and tracing the ball.

jrnba_rookie_pp8_tracingtheballbreakdowndrill_diagram1of6 jrnba_rookie_pp8_tracingtheballbreakdowndrill_diagram2of6 jrnba_rookie_pp8_tracingtheballbreakdowndrill_diagram3of6 jrnba_rookie_pp8_tracingtheballbreakdowndrill_diagram4of6 jrnba_rookie_pp8_tracingtheballbreakdowndrill_diagram5of6 jrnba_rookie_pp8_tracingtheballbreakdowndrill_diagram6of6


  • The player with the ball will move the ball on both sides of their body resulting in the player that is tracing switching their tracing hands.
  • The player with the ball can add a pivot as they move the ball resulting in the player tracing switching their hands and also moving their body position with the pivot.
  • The player with the ball can use 1 dribble to gain a passing angle. This results in the player tracing the ball to use both hands for added pressure after the dribble is picked up, while moving their feet in an athletic stance keeping a good body position.



Key Points

Keep up intensity by encouraging the players to call ‘ball’ when tracing the ball with active hands.



On the Block Finish Drill

(games to 3)
  • Have 2 lines on the baseline with two players standing on the blocks.
  • The coach will have the ball at the free throw line and pass the ball to one of the 2 players.
  • That player will have a maximum of 1 dribble to take a shot and must not move backwards.
  • The player who did not receive the pass will become defense and try to stop the player with the ball.

jrnba_starter_pp7_ontheblockfinishdrill_diagram1of3 jrnba_starter_pp7_ontheblockfinishdrill_diagram2of3 jrnba_starter_pp7_ontheblockfinishdrill_diagram3of3


Key Points

Work on finishing with a live pass and defense.

Elbows Finish Drill

(games to 3)
  • Have the players partner up with one ball per group.
  • Have one player on offense and one player on defense starting around the elbow.
  • The offensive player will start with the ball facing the basket and gets a maximum of 3 dribbles and only one shot attempt.
  • After one shot, that group will go to the back of the line and the next group will start.
  • Make or miss the shot, the offensive and defensive player will always change positions on the next possession.

2 on 2 Closeout

(games to 5)
  • Have a player on the wing and the top of the key and 2 lines on the baseline lined up across from them.
  • When the coach passes the ball to one of the players on the perimeter, the first two players on the baseline will closeout to the ball or help defense, and then begin playing 2 on 2.
  • Each team gets 1 shot.
  • The offensive team will go off and the defensive team will become offense as the next team on the baseline will execute the next closeout.

jrnba_starter_pp10_2on2closeout_diagram1of2 jrnba_starter_pp10_2on2closeout_diagram2on2

Key Points

Make sure the players work on good closeouts and playing good defense.

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