Are you coaching young kids? Ones who don’t know anything about basketball? This can be a challenge, even more so if you played basketball at a higher level, because honestly it’s hard to remember the little parts of the game once they’ve become second nature.
I remember when a friend asked if I would coach our girls when they were in third grade, first I asked my daughter if she wouldn’t mind having me as her coach, then after accepting the position, I sat down and thought a lot about how to best use an hour of practice time with these young ladies. I had played basketball through college and had coached high school for many years, so I knew the game (and I was competitive), but I wanted these grade school girls to learn the game and have fun.
I started with the fundamentals on the court, doing my best to keep a basketball in their hands a majority of the time while I coached dribbling, passing and shooting, and added an emphasis on hard work, defense and togetherness. But I also taught some of the basics that are often forgotten, because I remember being frustrated when I went to high school and played volleyball for the first time. I didn’t understand the terms and rules of the game. I learned the rules of the game and how subbing worked the hard way, by doing it all wrong and getting yelled at. My coach even thought I was joking when I asked what side-out meant. I was not joking. I wanted the girls who I coached to understand all aspects of the game of basketball.
But most of all I wanted them to have fun. I love basketball and I wanted them to love it too. Of course I knew that all the girls might not continue to play, that one day they might find different sports or activities that they were passionate about, but at that moment, in grade school, it was all about having fun.
To teach them the lines and areas of the court I would holler out a term. For the corner of the key on the free-throw line, I would holler “Elbow!” And girls would run to an elbow and do a cheer together. The key word is together because there are four possible Elbow locations on the court. Then I might call out “Baseline!” (Which only has two options, the out-of-bound lines behind each basket). The girls who knew the term would grab other girls hands and together decided where to run before gathering in a circle and shouting out a team cheer. A little team building along the way is always good. Simple, but perfect, when a group is young. They quickly learned where things are on the court, the free-throw line, the key, hash marks, center court, etc. You get the idea.
I also gave the girls labeled handouts showing the areas of the basketball court and added a sheet defining basketball terms. Each player recieved an easy basketball quiz and word search game as well. “Fun” homework. We went over them but I never asked for them back because I knew some girls would hate them and probably never touch them (this would have been me as a kid), but some girls loved the paperwork. Every kid’s is a little different so I decided it didn’t hurt to come at them in different ways to learn more about the game.
So when your players are young, teach them the fundamentals of basketball and the basics of game, give every kid quality time in games (if they come to practice) and most of all, have fun.
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