Youth Basketball Coaching: Practice Drills for Ball Toughness
The game of basketball is over coached and under taught; too few coaches are minding the gym at the entry level of the game as the instruction of fundamentals has slipped badly. There has been a premium put on athleticism over skill development which is reflected at the youth level and the high school level. Kids play games. They don't work at the game." - Hall of Fame Coach Pete Newell
It's one thing to talk about not turning the ball over with your team, but how do you teach it? You certainly cannot coach every single pass or dribble. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing coaches trying to micro-manage a basketball game from the sideline. It is frustrating for the players, parents, and coaches. Basketball is a game of mistakes. If you want your players to protect the basketball, then you should use a method of teaching more similar to the actual game.
For example, if you want to teach the bounce pass to a youth team then you should introduce it first and have your players partner up for a few minutes; less than two minutes as they learn the basics. The teaching should not stop there. Immediately after this brief introduction, there should be another segment of bounce passing on the move in a layup line for example or full court partner passing. This will enforce the skill in a more game-like manner. The third and final stage should involve some competition in what is commonly called a “games approach” to teaching fundamentals.
There are many books that discuss this approach to teaching and learning in more detail, but we have included many of these drills in this book. Additionally, we have broken down the basic stages of this teaching progression with a focus on protecting the basketball. There are many situations that occur more than others in a basketball game, and coaches should prepare for those things in practice.
When Do Most Turnovers Occur?
Turnovers are mistakes that most often occur in the following 3 situations:
- Starting or stopping the dribble
- Passing from a live dribble
- Passing or catching
Coaches should use a “games approach” to teaching fundamental starts and stops with the basketball. Most mistakes with the basketball occur when a player starts their dribble or ends their dribble. How many times have you seen an incorrect jump stop or stride stop lead to a travel? After a referee whistle, I have seen plenty of irate coaches demonstrate a correct jump stop on the sideline due to a turnover to know this is a problem. We should spend time in practice teaching players how to start and stop with the basketball. I guarantee if you remove those types of turnovers; your team will win more games.