Basketball is a game of habits. Every shot that a player takes, starting when they are young , develops their shooting habits. That is why you MUST use basketball shooting drills for your kids that develop proper habits. The other factor with young players, players of all ages for that matter, but especially young players, is that the drills must be fun. Part of having fun, even for youngsters, is not only making shots, but seeing your form improve.
Basketball shooting drills for young kids should focus completely on proper shooting form and not on game pace or quickness.
The first part of shooting drills for kids is that young players should shoot only on lower baskets and with smaller basketballs. For a 6 foot tall high school player to shoot on a 10 foot basket is close to the same proportion as a 4 foot tall player shooting on a 7 foot basket. The arc is such an important part of the shot that it is important to keep it as realistic as possible.
Also, for young players to develop the needed power to get the shot up to a 10 foot rim forces them away from using proper shooting form. For kids to do shooting drills on 10 foot baskets develops bad habits and makes them worse.
The second area of focus for young players is to hold the ball with two hands and push with only their shooting hand. Many young players have the bad habit of pushing not only with their shooting hand, but also pushing with their guide hands. There are three drills that you can use to help your players develop a proper release.
One is partner form shooting. Once you have taught the proper release, have them pair up. Have them line up across from their partner about 10 feet apart and shoot the ball back and forth to each other. Players will be shooting to their partners, not to a basket. The drill works best if you will make the call for everyone to shoot at once. It is a good drill to use if you have a lot of players and not many baskets to shoot at. Since you are not shooting at a basket, it is also a good drill to use to force the players to concentrate on correct shooting form and not worry about makes or misses.
Coach says “Ready!” and players cock the ball in their shooting pocket. Coach says “Shoot!” Players shoot the ball to their partner and hold their follow through until the coach says “Ready!” for the partners to shoot the ball back. That way, you can check that each player is holding a high goose neck follow through.
The coach or coaches should move around the players to check their releases with one hand and that the guide hand remains still. Another aspect of the shot to check during the drill is that the players are shooting with a correct back spin.
Shooting on the line. This drill is similar to partner shooting, but the partners will get 10 feet across from each other, facing each other while standing on the sideline, 10 second line, volleyball lines, or any other lines that you have in the gym. Players will use the lines to line up their feet and their shooting arms as well as to measure how straight their shots are.
Players will still load on your commands again, but the partners will let the ball hit the ground so the shooter can see how straight it was. This drill allows the players to concentrate on straight rather than makes or misses. Emphasize a high goose neck follow through again as well as using an imaginary goal to simulate the correct arc.
Rim flips. This is a good drill to start with when you move on to shooting at a basket. Players should stay no more than one step away from the basket. You can have 1 player on each side of the basket. Have them work on foot and arm alignment, proper release, proper backspin, and proper follow through.
If you have players in line to shoot, have them shoot the ball up in the air to themselves if they have basketballs, or do shadow shooting (with a pretend basketball) if they don’t have a ball. The players in front shoot one rim flip and then dribble to the end of the line. All players in line should shoot to themselves when the player in front shoots. The coach should again give the commands “Ready” and “Shoot” to keep everyone together and allow the coaches to watch each player’s form.
Shooting around the world. Four, five, or six players at one basket in a semi-circle facing the basket between 8 and 10 feet away. Each player should have a basketball. Give each player a number, one through however many players there are at the basket.
Each player should be ready to shoot with the ball in their shooting pocket. The coach will call a number and that player will shoot following all correct shooting techniques. They will hold their follow through until the ball is below the net (make or miss). The player retrieves his own rebound, dribbles back to his shooting spot with his weak hand and gets in the ready position. As the player is dribbling back, the coach calls another number.
It is important to follow a progression where your drills go from shooting form drills to close in shooting drills to shooting from 8 to 10 feet. You need to do shooting drills every practice. With young players, you should also practice shooting layups each practice in addition to shooting shots from the field. There is no more important fundamental in basketball than teaching players to put the ball in the basket and no more important way to spend practice time with young players.