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 6

Cultivating Values & Developing Wellness


Respect: Teammates

  • 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


Line Hops

(2 x 20 seconds)
  • 2 Feet Forward & Backwards
  • 2 Feet Side to Side
  • 1 Foot Forward & Backwards
  • 1 Foot Side to Side
  • Stationary Hip Swings
  • Arm Rolls

Building Skills


Ball Handling

Finger Dribble Drill

(1 x 30 seconds each hand)
  • All players need a basketball (or share) and should stand on the sideline.
  • Players should be in a stance with their legs bent.
  • The players will dribble the basketball with each finger on their hand. Each dribble will be with a different finger focus.
  • The first dribble will focused on using their thumb and will then progress to using their pinky finger and back for 30 seconds.

Key Points

This drill works on good control dribbles using fingertips.

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.


  • Have players in pairs and designate one as the leader. The leader balancing on one leg changes their dribbles from high to low and between hands. The follower mimics the leader.
  • Have one ball between two players. One player is balancing on one leg and their partner, facing them, passes the ball. The balancing partner dribbles 3 times on each hand and passes the ball back. Repeat a few times and switch. Change the number/type of dribbles.

Key Points

Work on ball-handling while maintaining good balance and stability.

Fundamentals of the Spin Dribble

  • The spin dribble or spin move is a move used by an offensive player to get by a defensive player. The offensive player will dribble forward, take a hard dribble and spin by turning their back to the defender and keeping their body between the defender and the ball. The offensive player will come all the way around until facing forward again and will now have the ball in their other hand.

Spin Dribble Drill

(3 minutes)
  • The players will all have a ball and start on the sideline.
  • They will take 2 dribbles with their right hand and spin to their left.
  • The players will repeat now taking 2 dribbles with their left hand and spinning back to their right.
  • The players will do this all the way down the court and back.

Key Points

Make sure the 2nd dribble is a hard dribble and the players can think about having their feet almost come to a jump stop at the same time as their 2nd dribble as they prepare to spin.

Dribble Freeze Tag Game

(3 minutes)
  • All players should have a basketball and spread out on the court in a designated area.
  • The coach will designate a few players to be “it.”
  • The players who are “it” will dribble around and tag the other players while they are trying to avoid being tagged.
  • When a player is tagged, they have to jump stop and stay in one spot until another teammate unfreezes them.
  • It is the goal of the “it” players to tag as many players as possible in 1 minute.
  • Change who is it and repeat.

Key Points

Work on controlling the ball and executing good jump stops. Remind the players to keep their head up so they don’t run into each other and can avoid being tagged. Players cannot be un-tagged in this game.


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.


Crossover to a Lay-Up Drill

(1 x 2 minutes each side)
  • Players will start with the ball in their left hand outside of the tree point line on the right side of the court.
  • They will dribble while running with there left hand to the cone and then make a crossover dribble and continue in for the lay-up.
  • After shooting, the player will get their rebound and dribble in a straight line back to have court with low crossovers.
  • Count how many makes the team gets in those 2 minutes on each side.

Key Points

Work on a low, quick crossover by pushing off the outside foot and exploding towards the basket.

1-Step Form Drill Part 2

(10 makes each side)
  • Have the players start in a line at the lane line facing the sideline with the basket to their left.
  • Have the players push out off their right foot and land on the left foot as they catch the ball, turn to square up and shoot.
  • The player should rebound and give the ball back to coach as the next player goes.

Key Points

Work on a good big push, being balanced and turning and squaring up for a perfect shot.

Jump Stop Shooting Game

(games to 5)
  • 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.


Wall Box Outs

(1 x 2 minutes)
  • Have players partner up in front of a wall.
  • The first player will be in an athletic stance and when the coach says, “shot!” the player will turn and box out on the wall.
  • The players will make sure they make contact turn and box with their elbows and hands up and can then move to jump for the ball.
  • The partner will go next and the process will continue.

Key Points

Make sure the players get comfortable making contact and use perfect box out form.

Footwork and Conditioning

Fundamentals of the Jab Step

  • A jab step is an offensive move used by the player with the ball to gain an advantage over the defense. The offensive player will move their foot so that it appears they will go in a particular direction. This fake forces the defensive player to move and respond to the jab step. Once the offensive player recognizes how the defense responds, they can make a move. The traditional jab step occurs before a player dribbles the ball.
  1. The player has or will establish a pivot foot that will remain on the floor without moving throughout the jab step.
  2. The player will be in a good athletic stance and push off the pivot foot while lifting the other foot and moving it forward to simulate making a move in that direction. It is important that the pivot foot does not move.
  3. The player will aggressively place the lifted foot on the floor at a forward angle from where it started.
  4. At the same time, the player will swing his or her arms and the ball in the same direction as the jab step in order to make the defender believe the jab.
  5. The offensive player should read how the defensive player responds to the jab step to continue their effort to score.

Jab Step Breakdown Drill

(2 minutes each way)
  • All players should have a ball (or share) and line up on the baseline.
  • Have the players start in a good triple threat position.
  • On the coach’s command have the players all jab the same way.
  • Correct any mistakes and also do it from the other foot.

Key Points

Make sure the players jab quickly and aggressively.

Jab Attack Drill

(3 x each side)
  • The player should start by facing the basket where ½ court and the sideline meet.
  • The player will jab the foot closest to the sideline.
  • Immediately following the jab, the player will step across their body with the jab foot and take a big step and a big dribble in the opposite forward/angle direction.
  • The player will pick up the ball as if they are shooting after the jab one stride 1-2 stop.
  • From that point, the player will stay there, reset, and repeat the process jabbing again and attacking the middle of the court.
  • The goal is for the player to get inside the 3-point line after 3 of these jabs and take a jump shot after the 3rd jab.
  • The player must take a big stride and cover a lot of ground and be able to explode up into their shot.
  • It is important to do this drill from both directions.

Key Points

Some players may need to start with more than 3 dribbles Don’t allow players to hop onto 2 feet after the dribble. Always have them 1-2 step.

Team Concepts


Pass, Cut & Replace Drill

(2 minutes)
  • Start with a line on each wing and 1 player at the top of the key with the ball.
  • The player at the top will pass to either wing and cut to the basket looking for the ball.
  • The player on the wing without the ball will “replace” the cutter and fill to the top of the key.
  • The cutter is now out of the drill and will go to the back of the line on the wing that replaced them.
  • The wing with the ball will pass to the top where the player replaced.
  • That player will reverse the ball to the other wing and cut to the basket and the series repeats.
  • Cutters only cut from the top.

jrnba_starter_pp4_passcutandreplacedrill_diagram1of4 jrnba_starter_pp4_passcutandreplacedrill_diagram2of4 jrnba_starter_pp4_passcutandreplacedrill_diagram3of4 jrnba_starter_pp4_passcutandreplacedrill_diagram4of4


Key Points

Make sure the players show their hands to catch the ball and stand in the triple threat position before making strong passes. Also emphasize that the cutter cuts hard to the basket looking for the ball with a hand up.

Fundamentals of Defending a 2 on 1

  • Teach the players to play between both players without over committing to one or the other. Often adding foot fakes at the ball helps keep the offensive players off balance.

Defending the 2-on-1 Drill

(3-5 minutes)
  • Have one player start at the top of the key with a ball and another starting in the short corner on the same side.
  • Have 1 defender starting at the block who must guard both players.
  • The player with the ball at the top can either shoot a lay-up or pass the ball. If they pass the ball, the player in the short corner must then catch and shoot.
  • If the player in the short corner gets the ball, the defensive player is working on their contest.

Key Points

Work on the offensive players making good decisions and the defensive player defending both and contesting shots with a hand up.


(1 game)
  • Put the players in one line starting at the free throw line with the first 2 players having a ball.
  • The first player will shoot, if they make it, they will pass the ball to the next person and go to the back of the line.
  • If they miss, they will rebound and shoot from anywhere until they make a shot and then give the ball to the next person and go to the back of the line.
  • If the player shooting behind any player makes their shot before you, you’re out.

Key Points

This teaches the players that every shot is important and the consequence of missing a shot is potentially getting knocked out of the game. Players will shoot under pressure and compete to win.



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