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 3

Cultivating Values & Developing Wellness



  • The rules of basketball are important. They keep the game safe and fun. If you play outside the rules, you or someone else may get hurt, and they may try to retaliate and hurt you. Plus, even if you get away with breaking rules, it is not much fun to succeed or win by breaking the rules. It’s important in basketball and in the rest of life to follow the rules.

Warm Up


Freeze Tag

(2 minutes)
  • One player or the coach will be designated as “it.”
  • When the person designated as “it” tags another player, they are “frozen” and must stand in place without moving.
  • A player can on be unfrozen if another unfrozen player comes and touches them.
  • Designate boundaries based on numbers (i.e. stay inside of half court.)
  • Complete the game when all players are frozen.
  • If needed, add multiple players who are “it”.


  • All non-taggers have a basketball and must dribble when


  • Divide into two teams: One team is “it” and must attempt to freeze the entire other team as fast as they can. After one round, switch roles and the team with the fastest time wins.

Building Skills


Ball Handling

Quick Drops Drill

(2 x 20)
  • Players need a basketball (or share) and should find space on the court facing the coach.
  • Have players bend their knees and put the ball on the floor between your feet.
  • The players will put their right hand on the ball from the front of their body.
  • The players will then put their left hand on the ball from behind their body.
  • The players will pick the ball up to about knee height.
  • Next the players will drop the ball and quickly switch their hands so that they catch the ball in the air with their right hand behind their right leg and their left hand in front of their left leg.
  • If this is too difficult, let the ball bounce 1 time before the catch.

Key Points

Work on having quick hands while staying in a stance.

Seated Dribble

(2 sets of 45 seconds each arm)
  • All players should have a ball and have a seat on the sideline.
  • Players should put the ball just outside their right hip and begin dribbling.
  • After 15 seconds, the players will straighten their arm out to their right side so that the ball is stretched far away and again dribble for 15 seconds.
  • After 15 seconds have the players dribble with a straight arm close to their legs and move the ball out to their right and then dribble it in towards their body and continue in a circle motion for another 15 seconds.
  • This completes 1 set which will be done again before changing to the left hand.

Key Points

This drill works on good control dribbles using fingertips.

Stationary Crossover Low, Middle, High

(3 x 15 seconds each)
  • All players need a basketball (or share) and should stand on the sideline.
  • Players should bend their knees and begin dribbling back and forth swinging the ball from right to left low and quick below the knees.
  • After 20 seconds, the player will dribble at knee level and continue for another 20 seconds.
  • Last, the player will dribble the ball higher swinging it from from side to side for 20 more seconds.


  • Have the players get into pairs and stand a short distance apart facing each other. One partner will be the leader and crossover dribble low, middle or high. The other partner will try to mirror the leader. The leader will continue to change the level of the dribble in an effort to “lose” the other partner. Switch partners and continue.
  • As players improve, add in 1,2, or 3 dribbles before each crossover. Partners will have to mirror the stationary and crossover dribbles.

Key Points

Keep the players in a good stance with their chest and eyes up. Remind them to use their fingertips and push the ball back and forth from side to side with quick dribbles to improve coordination and ball control.

Stationary Under the Leg Dribble Drill

(1 x 1 minute)
  • Have the players get a ball (or share) and find space on the court.
  • The players will take 1 or 2 dribbles and then lift the opposite leg from the hand the ball is in.
  • When the player lifts their leg, they will dribble under the leg and gain control with the other hand.
  • The player will then repeat the process with the other hand back and forth for the allotted amount of time.


Fundamentals of the Kick Pass

  • A kick pass is a pass from a teammate driving to the basket, out to a player on the perimeter.
  • The kick pass usually happens while moving and is often passed from the side of the body predominantly with the hand that is on the same side as their teammate.
  • When making the kick pass, the player’s arm will extend and the thumb will snap down towards the ground.

Kick Pass Breakdown Drill

(1 minute each way)
  • Have the players partner up with one ball and both face the same direction so that one player can see their partner by turning their head to the left and the other partner can see their partner by turning their head to the right.
  • Both players should be in a good stance and will pass the ball back and forth by pushing the ball with the arm that is closest to their partner and snapping their thumb down.
  • The players will continue passing back and forth for the allotted amount of time before switching sides.

The Kick Pass Drill

(1 x 2 minutes)
  • Have the players start in 2 lines, 1 at the top with the ball, and 1 on the wing.
  • The players at the top will have a ball and will drive the ball towards the basket on the same side as their teammate.
  • As the coach or imaginary defenders comes to help, the player will make a quick kick pass out to their teammate who will catch and shoot.
  • The shooter will get the rebound and both players will go to the back of the opposite line.
  • Continue this process for the allotted amount of time.


Fundamentals of the Up & Under

  • The up and under is one of the most fundamental post moves in basketball. The player will catch the ball in the post with their back to the basket. The player will then turn in either direction as if they are going to shoot the ball. As they turn, they will shot fake, hoping to have the defender jump or raise up. The offensive player will then step with their back foot toward the basket and jump off 2 feet for a lay-up.

Up & Under Breakdown Drill

(1 minute each way)
  • Have the players partner up and face each other with one ball.
  • One player will pass the ball to their partner.
  • When the partner catches the ball, they will execute an up and under move until the end and instead of shooting will hold onto the ball turn back and pass to the other partner who will repeat.
  • The partners will continue going back and forth working on their up and under footwork.

Key Points

Make sure the players are not picking up or dragging their pivot foot which would lead to a travel. Work on sitting low as the player shot fakes lifting the ball up but loading on their outside leg to step through.

Pass & Up & Under Drill

(1 x 2 minutes)
  • One player will start on each block and there will a line on the wing in front of each of them.
  • The first few players in each line will have a ball.
  • The first player with the ball will make a good post entry pass to the player making a good post up on the block.
  • The player will catch the ball and execute an up and under, get their rebound and go to the back of the line.
  •  The player who made the pass will then run to the block and post up and prepare to receive the pass from the next person in line.
  • This process will continue for the allotted amount of time and then the players will switch sides.

Key Points

Make sure the players are executing good post entry passes, the players are posting up and making good up and under moves.

Competitive Drills

Make For a Cone Game

(games of 3 minutes each)
  • Players are separated into 2 even teams and go to 2 designated spots at a basket (the wings, elbows, corners etc).
  • There should be a line of cones equal to the number of players on each team that lines up next to the team.
  • The first player from each line will shoot the basketball get their rebound and pass to the next person on their team.
  • If the player makes the shot, they will take a cone from the other team and put it in their line of cones and move to the back of the line.
  • If the player misses the shot, they will get the rebound and pass to the next person on their team and continue to the back of the line without getting a cone from the other team.
  • After 3 minutes, the team with the most cones wins.

Fundamentals of the Free Throw

  • The free throw is a very important part of the game that can play a big part in winning and losing. Free throws are also know as foul shots and are taken from the free throw line (or foul line) with no defense. Each free throw is worth 1 point. Players are awarded the opportunity to shoot free throws if they are fouled while shooting, if the other team has committed more fouls than permitted, or if there is a technical foul.
  • One of the most important aspects of the free throw is to relax and do the same routine every time. It is typical for players to take a few dribbles, relax and take their shot without jumping. Every player should develop a routine that works best for them to maximize the opportunity for “free” points.

Free Throw Golf

(1 game)
  • Utilize as many baskets as possible and have 1 player shooting at a time.
  • The player will shoot 2 free throws at a time and rotate until each player has shot 10 total free throws.
  • After every player has taken 10 free throws, the player with the lowest score wins.
  • The scoring is as follows: If a player makes a shot nothing but net, they receive minus 2 points (-2).
  • If a player makes a shot in any way other than nothing but net, they receive minus 1 points (-1).
  • If a player misses a shot, they receive plus 1 point (+1).


Fundamentals of Rebounding

  • When a shot is missed, the player that retrieves the ball is credited with a rebound. Rebounding requires players to be physical, have quick reactions and pursue the ball.

Self-Toss Rebound Drill

(3 x 8)
  • All players need a basketball (or can share) and divide into 3 lines at each basket.
  • The first players in line use two hands to toss the ball into the air.
  • The player will move towards the ball, jump and catch the ball at their peak.
  • Once players land with the ball, they attempt one shot at the basket. They get their rebound and return to their line.
  • The drill repeats with the next group of players.


  • Players must yell “I got it!”,”Mine!” or “Ball!” when they grab the rebound.


  • Players do not have basketballs. The coach shoots the ball off the backboard and the first 3 players in line attempt to get the rebound. Whoever gets the rebound gets to attempt a shot without defense.

Key Points

It is important for the players to see the ball, track its trajectory and jump and catch the ball at their peak.

Footwork and Conditioning

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.

Team Concepts


Fundamentals of the Drive & Kick

  • Drive and kick is when a player dribbles the ball toward the basket and the defense reacts to the drive by helping their teammate. As the defense helps, the offensive player will kick or kick out (pass) the ball to their teammate.

Drive & Kick Competition Drill

(games to 8)
  • Have two lines next to each-other at the half-court line on the right or left side of a half-court. Setup one cone or other object on the three point line above the elbow and another cone or object on the three point line at the wing.
  • One line has a basketball. The first two players in each line high-five each other to start the drill. After the high-five, the player with the ball will dribble to the cone above the elbow and either go to the left or to the right around the cone. The other player, the cutter, will run to the cone at the wing and react to what the dribbler does.
  • If the player with the ball goes to the left around the cone, the cutter will cut to the the middle of the key for a pass and layup in front of the basket. If the player with the ball goes to the right of the cone, the cutter will cut to the short corner for a jump-shot.
  • The players will get the rebound and switch lines.
  • This drill can be run with two groups on two sides of the same half court, or two sides of a full court. The two groups will compete to be the first team to make 10 shots.

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Key Points

The ball-handler should make sure to keep their head up and make an accurate pass to their teammate. The cutter should read the ball-handler and stay ready to catch the pass with their hands up.

Fundamentals of Help Defense

  • Help defense means helping a teammate who is guarding the ball. The ball is the most important part of the game so even if you are not guarding the person with the ball, you must be ready to help them if needed.

2-Person Closeout Drill

(2 x 1 minute)
  • Have a coach with the ball on the wing and another coach or player on the other wing and then 2 lines on the baseline.
  • Have a player guarding the ball on the wing and saying “ball, ball, ball!”
  • When the ball is passed to the other wing the player will jump to the help position and say “help, help, help!”
  • At the same time a player from the other line will close-out to guard the ball saying “ball, ball, ball!”
  • When the ball is passed back, that player will now jump into the help position saying “help, help, help!” while a new player from the other line closes out to the ball and the original defensive player steps off the court.
  • Continue repeating this process.

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Key Points

Make sure the players are seeing both their player and the ball when they are in the help position. Make sure both players are talking and the drill stays high energy.



4 on 4 Continuous

(games to 3)
  • Divide the players into 3 teams of 4 (if you have an odd number, add substitutes to teams).
  • There will be one team at ½ court to start the game on offense, there will be other teams on both ends that will start on defense.
  • The team on offense will try to score on a basket. If they score they will quickly get the ball and go to the other basket on offense.
  • Whenever the defensive team stops the offensive team, they become the offense and go to the other basket.
  • Continue this action until a team has won.

Key Points

This game should be quick and high energy. It allows the players to move up and down the court without getting out of control as the defense will always be set. Make sure the defense is matching up as the team comes towards them.

5 on 5

(games to 3)
  • Divide the players into teams (have substitutes if needed).
  • Play 5 on 5 until a team makes 3 shots.
  • Encourage the players to cut, move the ball and work on all the basketball concepts they have learned.

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