So, you are coaching your son or daughter’s youth basketball team. And, you don’t have a lot of time to spend planning practices that will hold the players’ attention. No problem! This article will give you some great ideas for basketball dribbling drills for kids. We also have links to other articles with shooting drills, passing drills, and plays to run.
You’ve probably heard it at work, but it is soooo true in youth basketball. Less is more! I would spend the entire drill portion of practice that you devote to drills on shooting, passing, and dribbling. Here are three great dribbling drills for kids that work on their fundamentals and that they really like.
Follow the leader dribbling. Every player has a basketball. Pick one player to be the leader. Start out with all players stationary. The leader starts to dribble and all players must do the same dribble. If the leader dribbles in the right hand, all others emulate. Switch to left hand, left-right—left –right, behind the back, etc… Explain to players that if the leader loses the basketball, they should keep doing what the leaders was INTENDING to do.
This drill forces players to keep their eyes up. You can also do moving follow the leader. I recommend no more than four per group if they are going to follow while moving. Make sure that each player gets to lead the drill for a short time each practice.
Dribble knock out. Every player in the drill needs a basketball. Put them all inside a boundary and let them know what that boundary is. If you are working with 6 or 8 players have them all inside the 3 point arc. If you have 18 or 20 use the entire half court. Players have to stay inside the boundaries, dribble their basketball and try to knock the ball away from other players. If you lose the ball on your own or have it knocked away by another player, you are out.
If you step on a boundary line you are out. If you foul another player trying to knock their ball away, you are out and they stay in. If you double dribble or palm the ball, you are out. Players who are out sit down with their basketball and cheer for the players who are still in. When only one player is left in the game, he or she is the winner. Bring all the players back in and start a new round.
Crazy dribbling. This is a very popular dribbling drill that helps players feel for the basketball. Every player has a basketball. Coach yells “Go” and the players can do the fanciest moves with the ball that they want. The only stipulation is that they must be legal dribbles. No double dribbles, no palming, no travels, etcs… Encourage players to try behind the back, between the legs, spins, combo moves, or any advanced moves. Also make sure that they know that losing the ball is a part of the improvement process. Just make sure that they confine crazy dribbling to practices and don’t try it in games!
I have learned that the single biggest factor in determining how successful a player will be as they move up the ladder of competition is how well they can dribble the basketball. The players who are the best dribblers in youth/elementary basketball are able to continue to play well in middle school.
The same is true from middle school to high school, and from high school to college. That is not to say that dribbling is the only important skill. But, I am saying that regardless of what position a player plays, with few exceptions, the best players are usually pretty good dribblers. Make sure you spend time helping kids develop this critical skill.