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 2

Cultivating Values & Developing Wellness


Balanced Lifestyle

  • As much as we may love basketball, there is simply more to life. Practicing and playing too much can lead to overuse injuries and burnout. So, even if it feels like you never want to take a break, you should, at least to make sure you stay fit and rested enough to continue playing after taking some time off.
  • Another benefit of a little time away from the game is that you can develop other athletic skills, including different forms of leadership and teamwork that will contribute to your basketball success when you return the court. Also, taking time away from sports altogether leaves time for activities that are ultimately more important, such as family, friends, academics, and experiencing other parts of the world and other forms of fun that make you a more well-rounded person.

Warm Up


Dynamic Warm-Up

(1 x each from baseline to half court or back)
  • Heel Walks
  • Toe Walks
  • Skip Forward
  • Skip Backwards
  • Jog Forward
  • Jog Backwards
  • Walking Hamstring
  • Walking Straight Leg Kicks

Building Skills


Ball Handling

Double Leg Wrap

(1 x 20 sec each way)
  • All players need a basketball (or share) and should stand on the sideline.
  • Players should bend their knees and keep their feet together as they wrap the ball around both legs for 10 seconds.
  • The players will then change directions for 10 seconds.

Key Points

Get comfortable with the ball, warm-up the fingers and hands, develop the ability to control the ball. Be sure to have the players keep their eyes up. Encourage the players to go as fast as possible and not worry about losing the ball.

Stationary Side to Side Dribble

(2 x 15 seconds each hand)
  • All players need a basketball (or share) and should stand on the sideline
  • The players will start with the basketball in their right hand in a good stance with their eyes up and using their left arm up to protect the ball.
  • Each dribble should bounce out in front of their right foot and will bounce from right to left only using their right hand forcing the player to get their hand to the side of the ball to bounce it to the other side.

Key Points

This drill helps build dribble control and forces the players move their hand quickly to gather control of the ball and then push it in the opposite direction. As the players get comfortable push them to make this dribble forward and backwards very quickly.

Stationary Front-Back Control Dribble

(2 x 15 seconds each hand)
  • All players need a basketball (or share) and should stand on the sideline.
  • The players will start with the basketball in their right hand in a good stance with their eyes up and using their left arm up to protect the ball.
  • Using only the right hand, each dribble should bounce wide outside of their right foot and will bounce forward and backwards forcing the player to get their hand behind the ball to bounce it back forward and then get their hand in front of the ball to then bounce it backwards.

Key Points

This drill helps build dribble control and forces the players move their hand quickly to gather control of the ball and then push it in the opposite direction. As the players get comfortable push them to make this dribble forward and backwards very quickly.

Fundamentals of the Retreat Dribble

  • The retreat dribble is also known as an escape dribble as it helps the offensive player retreat or escape from defensive players in front of them.
  • The retreat dribble relieves the offensive player from defensive pressure in order to dribble by, pass or shot.
  • To make an effective retreat dribble, a player must turn their body perpendicular to the defensive player so that the side of their front foot and shoulder are facing the defender and the ball is on the opposite side away from the defender.
  • The player will push back off their front foot quickly to move away and create space.
  • Once the player has created space, they will square back up so that they are again parallel or face to face with the defender.

Retreat Dribble Drill

(3 x 15 seconds)
  • All players need a basketball (or share) and should stand on the baseline.
  • The players will dribble with their right hand to the free throw line extended in front of them and take two retreat dribbles back while keeping their shoulder between the imaginary defender and the ball and pushing back.
  • After 2 dribbles back, the player will square up and dribble forward and do the same process at half court, the opposite foul line extended and the opposite baseline.
  • Do the same thing with the other hand.
  • As your players progress add in different moves after the retreat (i.e. retreat 2 dribbles and crossover or go between the legs for one dribble to attack the next spot)

jrnba_starter_pp2_retreatdribbledrill_diagram1of3 jrnba_starter_pp2_retreatdribbledrill_diagram2of3 jrnba_starter_pp2_retreatdribbledrill_diagram3of3



Fundamentals of the Outlet Pass

  • An outlet pass is a pass that happens following a rebound.
  • Typically a player gets a rebound, pivots and turns to make an outlet pass as their team transitions to offense.
  • An outlet pass can often be an overhead pass.

Key Points

It is important for an outlet pass to be quick, strong, and potentially lead the offensive team to a quick advantage.

Fundamentals of Receiving the Outlet Pass

  • When receiving the outlet pass, it is important that the player (typically the point guard) first gets close to the sideline where the rebounder is able to see them. Next, the players back should be towards the sideline so that their chest is open to the entire court which will allow them to see everything in front of them. The player must then call for the ball with their hands and mouth. Also, it is good for the player to catch the ball with some momentum going toward their basket if there are no defenders to discourage the pass. After the catch it is important for the player to look to pass ahead if possible.

Receiving the Outlet Pass Breakdown Drill

(1 x 2 minutes)
  • Have the players get in 1 line at the top of the key with the first several players having a ball.
  • The first player will pass their ball to the coach who is standing in the middle of the paint.
  • The coach will toss the ball to themself to their right or left side.
  • The player will react to which side the ball was tossed on and get their back to the baseline on that side and prepare to receive the outlet pass.
  • As coach makes the outlet pass, the players will catch the ball on the move and dribble to the other end of the court for a lay-up and then go back to the end of the line.
  • Continue this for the allotted amount of time.

Rebound & Outlet Pass Drill

(1 x 2 minutes each side)
  • Have the players get in 2 lines, 1 at the free throw line and 1 on the elbow.
  • Each player in the line at the free throw line will have a ball.
  • The opposite line will not have a ball.
  • The first person in the line with a ball will step up inside the three point and toss the ball off the backboard and go jump and grab it like a rebound.
  • On the toss, the first player in the other line will get to the sideline to properly receive the outlet pass.
  • The rebounder will pass to the outlet player.
  • The player who received the outlet pass will dribble up the floor going to the middle of the floor.
  • The player who grabbed the rebound will run wide outside the player with the ball to the other end of the court.
  • The player with the ball will make a good jump stop and make a bounce pass to the other player for a lay-up.
  • After the lay-up, the players will get in line from the other basket, change positions, and do the same thing coming back.

Key Points

Work on executing a good rebound, being strong with the ball and making good outlet passes. Also work on receiving the outlet pass and dribbling the floor for a good jump stop bounce pass and lay-up.


Fundamentals of Lay-Ups

  • A lay-up is a shot taken close to the basket, generally off the backboard. There are a variety of ways to shoot lay-ups and they should be worked on every day by players of all ages and skill level.

Fundamentals of the Drop Step Lay-Up

  • A drop step lay-up, is a lay-up that occurs when a player catches the ball close to the basket but with their back facing the basket.
  • On the catch, the player drops their bottom foot to turn for a lay-up.
  • The drop step lay-up can happen with or without a dribble.
  • Teach the players how to drop their foot as the ball is coming and keep the ball hidden away from the defender without taking a dribble for the lay-up.
  • Emphasize a big powerful push off the top foot that allows their bottom foot to drop below the defender’s bottom foot. This will allow the player to take and clear the space needed for a good balanced lay-up.

Drop Step Lay-Up Breakdown Drill

(1 x 2 minutes each way)
  • Have the players partner up and face each other at half court with each of their backs facing the opposite baseline.
  • One player will have a ball and the other will get into a good post up stance.
  • The player will roll the ball to their partner.
  • The partner will sit in a good stance and grab the ball then drop step by dropping their left foot at the same time as they turn and dribble.
  • The player will pick up the ball after the one dribble and pretend they will jump and shoot as they are now facing the basket.
  • The player will land, turn back around and roll the ball to their partner.
  • That player will do the same action by grabbing the ball, taking a drop step with their left foot while they turn and dribble and simulate shooting at the basket they are now facing.
  • This player will complete 5 drop step lay-ups alternating sides so that on their last lay-up, the 3rd player will start from the opposite side.
  • The players will continue this activity and then switch their drop step foot.

Lay-Up High Five Drill

(2 minutes each side)
  • All players should be in one line with no ball as the coach demonstrates how to take one step with their right foot, a second step and jump off their left foot and extend their right hand to simulate a right handed lay-up.
  • The coach will stand with his/her hand in the air as each player comes by and does this 1, 2 step while saying “1, 2” and gives the coach a high five with their right hand.
  • The line should move quick and if there is another coach, utilize 2 or more lines.
  • Players should repeat this going left with the opposite footwork (jumping off the right) and opposite hand (left) giving the high five.

jrnba_rookie_pp4_layuphighfivedrill_diagram1of2 jrnba_rookie_pp4_layuphighfivedrill_diagram2of2

Key Points

Emphasize the correct hand and foot until the movement becomes natural for the players.


Fundamentals of the Euro Step Lay-Up

  • A euro step lay-up is a lay-up in which the player takes the last two steps to step laterally side to side instead of the traditional straight forward steps. Euro step lay-ups can be a deceptive way to finish around the basket as it allows the offensive player to step around defenders as well as slow down their steps if needed.

Euro Step Breakdown Drill

(1 x 1 minute)
  • Have the players start on the baseline without a ball.
  • On the players command, the players will step out, then in and jump for proper euro step form.
  • The players will do this again and repeat for the allotted amount of time.

3-Line Layups Add Variations

(1 x 90 seconds each line)
  • Group the players into three lines facing the basket around the 3-point line (1 line on each wing and 1 line at the top of the key).
  • The first person in each line should have a ball and dribble in for a lay-up.
  • After the lay-up, the player will get their own rebound, pass it to the next person in line and go to the back of the same line.
  • The players in each line will have different finishes (right hand and left hand from the wing and a lay-up with no backboard in the middle).
  • Mix in different finishes such as the euro step. After 90 seconds the players will rotate lines.

Key Points

Note that there will be multiple players shooting at the same time. Remind the players that in a game there will be other players close to them as the try to score and it’s ok. Work on finishing lay-up in a variety of ways.


Fundamentals of the Triple Threat

  • Triple threat is the ideal athletic stance for players to stand in when they have the ball.
  • It is referred to as the triple threat position because the players are a threat to 1. Shoot, 2. Pass, 3. Dribble.
  • The triple threat stance requires players to bend their knees with their feet a little wider than shoulder width apart. The players will hold the ball and bend their elbows so they are strong and place the ball slightly towards their dominant hand side.

1.2.3. Triple Threat

(1 x 90 seconds)
  • All players dribble around in a half court. When the coach says “1,2,3!” all of the players respond and say “Triple Threat!” as they drop into a good triple threat stance. When coach says “Go!” players move out of triple threat and continue dribbling.


  • Players dribble with their off-hand or execute crossover dribbles as they move around the court.
  • Players “rip” the ball from left to right when they are in the triple threat position. Players can rip the ball low below their knees or above their head to simulate working against defensive reaching.

Key Points

Make sure the players are in a good stance and understand the reason why.

Team Concepts


Pass & Cut Drill

(90 seconds each way)
  • Players line up at the top of the key with a few balls at the front of the line, and another line on the wing. The coach will play defense on the player at the front of the line at the top of the key.
  • The players pass the ball to the player on the wing and then cut by running to the basket. The player on the wing will catch the pass and look to pass it back to the cutting player.
  • The coach will either defend the cutter as they cut to the basket or let them cut freely. The player on the wing must make a decision to either pass to cutter if open, or drive and shoot a layup if the cutter is defended.

    jrnba_rookie_pp4_passandcutdrill_diagram1of3 jrnba_rookie_pp4_passandcutdrill_diagram2of3 jrnba_rookie_pp4_passandcutdrill_diagram3of3


Key Points

Emphasize a good pass and a quick cut looking for the ball.

Team Lay-up & Shoot Drill

  • Divide the players into balanced teams and have them start at half court.
  • There should be 2 balls in the front of each line.
  • The players will dribble toward the basket and take a lay-up, get their rebound and dribble/pass it back to their line.
  • The next player can go as soon as they are ready.
  • The team must make a designated number of lay-ups.
  • Once the team makes the designated number of lay-ups, they will continue with the same process but now shoot jump shots.
  • The first team to make all of their jump shots wins the game.

jrnba_starter_pp2_teamlayupandshootdrill_diagram1of2 jrnba_starter_pp2_teamlayupandshootdrill_diagram2of2

Key Points

Use this fun competitive game to work on lay-ups and shooting. Encourage teams on the left side of the basket to use their left hand for lay-ups but count the makes regardless.

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.



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.

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