What I am about to tell you will seem obvious. Unfortunately, I have seen many, many players and coaches over the years overlook it and end up making the game much more complicated than it needs to be. The things you should practice are the things that happen the most often in games. This is especially true of basketball drills for beginners. Beginning players do not need to focus on weak hand layups, three point shooting, performing skills at game pace, or learning complicated plays or drills.
Offensive skills take many years of practice to develop. Defensive skills can be learned in a very short amount of time. That means that the focus should be on offensive skills. Basketball drills for beginners should include form shooting, dribbling techniques, passing, catching, starting & stopping, and two foot power layups.
Every practice session should include standing close to the basket and working on one hand pushing the shot and the other hand staying still as a guide hand. The drill should focus on proper backspin, follow through, and shooting the ball straight.
Work on stationary dribbling with eyes on the bottom of the net, knees flexed, and keeping the ball low. Work both hands and work on crossing the dribble over from one hand to the other. As players can handle this, have them begin jogging while dribbling and gradually increase their pace.
Even for beginners, lining up across from a partner and making two handed chest passes is a waste of time. That very rarely happens in games. Instead, have players learn to pass to one side or the other of their partner and have the receive jump toward the ball catching it with both feet in the air (never catch a pass flat footed), reaching for it with two hands, and watching the ball all the way into their hands.
Starting and Stopping
The mistake that many basketball beginners make is traveling frequently. That is why it is important to work on drills that prevent shuffling their feet when they start and stop. The first stage of the drill should be done without a basketball. Put the player or players on the baseline with both feet even and on the line. Have players slowly step forward with their right foot and keep their left foot still on the coach’s instruction of “step.” Emphasize left foot still.
Have them run straight to the free throw line (or even with the free throw line—so about 15 feet forward) and make a two foot jump stop. The stop is as important as the start. Work with players to make a clean jump stop without shuffling their feet. They should be in the same stance with feet even as they started with on the baseline.
Now, you will work on the same starting and stopping procedure that you just drilled, but start from the free throw line with the left foot this time and go to the ten second line to make the jump stop. Continue the same process all the way down the floor. When players are able to make correct starts and stops without a basketball, do the same drill with a basketball.
Two Foot Power Layups. With beginning players, it is a mistake to spend a lot of time with weak hand layups. It takes a lot of time to develop that skill and they will hardly ever shoot weak hand layups in games until they are more advanced. We teach two foot power layups. Players will shoot with their strong hand on both sides of the basket, and instead of working on a specific takeoff foot, have them make a jump stop and shoot off of two feet.
As you do drills with beginning basketball players, emphasize the improvement process. As they practice, they will make mistakes. That is what practice is for! There is no way to develop new skills and then begin to improve them without making mistakes. There is no way to learn to start and stop properly without traveling from time to time. The same is true with learning weak hand dribbling. Assure beginning players that mistakes are okay as long as they can recognize them, admit the mistake, learn from the mistake, and then let it go and not let it get them down.