15 Kids Basketball Practice Tips
Court Management Ideas for Coaches

15 court management tips to help kids basketball coaches maximize practice time and run efficient, well-organized, and fun training sessions.

basketball coaches

Youth basketball seasons are typically pretty short, lasting only about 8 weeks or so.

With only 1 basketball practice a week (2 if you're really lucky), you need to make the most of every precious minute on the floor.

Knowing WHAT to teach your players during your limited time together is one concern, but HOW you're going to teach them is the other half of the battle.

Here are 15 tips I've found very helpful in running practices that coaches, kids, and parents enjoy.

Kids Basketball Practice Tips

Tip #1
Start on time. End on time

This is a biggie. You're dealing with a lot of working parents whose schedules are jam-packed. Respect their time.

Also, respect the players that come on time. It's not fair to make them lose precious playing time because their teammates are late. I never wait more than 5 minutes past the scheduled starting time to begin practice.

If you make a habit of starting late, you train your players to come late.

Tip #2
Keep practices short

For kindergarten and early elementary basketball players, practice should never exceed an hour. If you run your practice efficiently, you'll be able to get a lot done in that amount of time. You'd rather the kids leave a little hungry wanting to stay longer than have them dying to get out of there.

Kids Basketball Practice Tips

Tip #3
Make a point to speak to every player individually

kids basketball

Kids want to be noticed.

Greet them all as they arrive and set the tone for a great practice by being energetic and letting them know you're glad to see them.

Find times throughout practice or before they leave to get to know them a little better.

Tip #4
Demand everyone's attention when you speak

It's really important that every player listens quietly while you talk. You have information they all need to know. At the whistle, I have everyone freeze, "give me their eyes and ears," and wait for instructions.

Kids Basketball Practice Tips

Tip #5
Arrange players so they can see and hear without distractions

Always make sure all players are in front of you, so they can see and hear you clearly. Whenever possible, position them so they face away from doors or groups of people, so they give you their full attention.

Tip #6
Use time efficiently

To get the most of your team's time on the court, have a plan for practice before it starts. A lot of time gets eaten up during water breaks, moving from drill to drill, and standing in line.

Find ways to minimize these time wasters. Set a time limit at every break and start back on time. Emphasize hustling between drills, and structure drills so as few people as possible are waiting in line.

Kids Basketball Practice Tips

Tip #7
Maximize use of personnel, facilities, and equipment

Make use of every possible goal and ball to give players as many repetitions as possible without having to spend much time in line. Use every available parent that is willing to help to give kids more individual attention and playing time.

Tip #8
Make sure every player has plenty of opportunity for success

Help kids that are having trouble, and let them know when they are doing a good job. Make sure they experience success in every drill, even if you have to modify it somehow for them. Every single player should have a positive experience at practice.

Kids Basketball Practice Tips

Tip #9
Make practice fun!

Kids want to move and have fun. Choose fun drills and basketball lead-up games to make practice exciting. One way to make a fun basketball workout environment is with the help of some loud, upbeat basketball songs.

It's amazing the difference pumped-up music can make. Even if it's just for a short period of time, like during warm-up, you ought to give it a try.

Definitely turn it off when it's time to give instructions, but once the drills get underway, let the music rip! You'll be amazed at the extra spring in their steps and the smiles on the faces.

Tip #10
Be positive!

You only have a short time with these kids, and you need to make sure it's a positive experience for them. There are some great motivational quotes that your players might really like. 

Kids Basketball Practice Tips

Tip #11
Introduce a skill, demonstrate it, and practice it

Don't assume kids know what you mean just by listening to your verbal instructions. They need to be able to see what the skill or drill looks like. Explain it and then show players how to do it.

When you finish with your coaching points and demonstration, give the players a chance to practice the skill. They certainly don't have to master it, but give them enough tries so they at least get the general idea.

Tip #12
Correct errors and give feedback

Now, don't go crazy with this one. At this stage, if you try to correct every single mistake that's made, the kids will never get to play. Point out the "biggies" as soon as the errors are made.

I like to show them what the correct skill should look like, and demonstrate how they executed the skill. They can usually see the difference. Make sure you sprinkle in some positive comments when you correct them.

Kids Basketball Practice Tips

 Tip #13
Create game-like situations as much as possible

Once the players have had a chance to successfully perform an isolated skill, start introducing drills that allow them to work on several skills at once. This creates a more game-like atmosphere and is usually a lot more fun for the kids.

Tip #14
Limit 5-on-5 scrimmage time

Though it's a good idea to introduce young players to what a full-court game looks like before their first competition, I wouldn't spend a whole lot of time playing 5-on-5 because players don't get enough time with the ball in their hands.

To make the most of your limited court time, I recommend 1-on-1, 2-on-2, and 3-on-3 drills. These combinations give kids a lot more opportunity to be involved in the action and work on their fundamentals while still giving them a game-like atmosphere. 

Kids Basketball Practice Tips

Tip #15
Keep it simple!

When it comes to kids basketball plays, basketball offense, and basketball defense, you've got to keep it simple. The goal at this stage is to learn the fundamentals of the game.

During competition, most of the mental energy of kid basketball players is consumed just trying to perform the new skills they've learned. They're trying to remember how to dribble, pass, and shoot. They don't have a whole lot of mental energy left to try and remember complicated youth basketball plays.

I highly recommend teaching a simple motion offense where players learn to move without the ball, set screens, and balance the floor. With just a few basic concepts, your basketball offense can have the structure it needs without being too complicated.

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