10 Youth Basketball Coaching Tips
Basketball for Kids: Keep It Fun & Simple

Discover 10 important youth basketball coaching tips that will ensure a successful and memorable season for every member of the team!

Coaches, basketball for kids should be a positive learning experience for players. It's up to you as the team leader to create the type of practice and game environment that's good for your kids.

youth basketball

Though certainly not all-inclusive, I've come up with a few solid coaching principles that I believe are important to keep at the center of your program. They have served me well over the years of teaching young players.

If you're new to youth basketball, they should provide a good foundation to help you get started in the right direction.

If you're an experienced coach, these tips will serve as a reminder that the best thing we can do for our young athletes is to provide an environment that fosters success.

Youth basketball coaching tips
1. Basketball should be fun!

This is the #1 most important thing to remember.

When the game of basketball stops being fun, kids will want to stop playing.

More than anything, especially when they are young and just starting out, kids want to have fun.

That's why they play.

And you as their coach have a huge influence on whether they have a good basketball experience or not.

Your attitude and interaction with them set the tone. So, as you teach them how to play basketball, please don't forget to make it enjoyable!

You've probably noticed there are tons of basketball practice drills out there to choose from. And as a coach and player, I can tell you there are some drills that players love and others that players dread.

I recommend you try out some fun basketball drills and see which ones your players like.

As much as possible, make drills into game-like competition.

basketball for kids

Kids love to compete!

Whether it's players competing against each other, against another team, against the clock, or trying to beat their own personal bests, you'll find that practice intensity and individual motivation increases when kids feel like they are playing a game.

Don't be afraid to use your imagination and create simple games, relays, etc. of your own!

Youth basketball coaching tips
2. Don't over-coach

There is a lot of information on this site, and it may seem overwhelming at first.

Don't worry!

It's not all intended for the very young ones. It may only be appropriate to focus on a few coaching tips at a time with each skill. Take baby steps as necessary.

The last thing you want to do is over-teach and over-analyze skills for young players.

Keep it simple!

First of all, their minds aren't developed enough yet to soak it all in.

Second, many of them may not yet have the motor skill development they need to do everything you ask.

And third, if you bore them with too much talking, they'll tune you out, and they won't have much fun.

Survival Guide for Coaching Youth Basketball

There's a fine line between providing enough information so your child can have some success and sending them into mental overload!

Limit your instruction time to about 5 minutes with a maximum of 3-5 coaching points. 

Youth basketball coaching tips
3. Have realistic expectations

Let kids be kids.

It's not the goal when coaching youth basketball to create well-honed little all-stars. Elementary school is not the time to push for perfection or skill mastery.

Some kids will be more serious than others.

Some players are gifted athletically. They love the game from the start and will end up playing for years. These kids enjoy being pushed and challenged to improve their skills.

Others won't ever be very good or interested in the sport and are just out there for the short term to give it a try and spend time with their friends.

You know your child. Set realistic expectations.

When I play with my daughter, I make a conscious effort to just be "Mom" sometimes, not "Coach."

Baffled Parents Guide to Coaching Youth Basketball

That's an important distinction.

As much as I'm tempted to demand a little more from her than she wants to give at times, I have to remember that she's a kid. Even though I think she has the potential to be a really good player one day, it's not time for me to push her hard.

Sometimes she just wants to play and goof off with her Mom, not have every action critiqued by a Coach.

More than anything, I want her to enjoy our time together on the court. That means biting my lip, so I don't wear her down with never-ending sports coaching pointers. 

Coaches and parents, be realistic and expect LOTS of mistakes.

Youth basketball isn't pretty a lot of the time!

Young players won't be able to do some of the skills properly until their little bodies mature, and they develop more strength, balance, and ability to understand more complex concepts and strategies. 

Youth basketball coaching tips
4. You don't have to be an expert

Don't be intimated if you are new to the game yourself.

It makes me sad to see parents who won't play with their kids because they don't have confidence in their own skills.

I promise your youngsters don't care. They just want to spend time with you.

And remember, these are beginners. They have a lot to learn.

All you need for coaching youth basketball are a few good coaching points, and you'll be amazed how much you will be able to teach these kids.

Youth basketball coaching tips
5. Be positive!

You won't have to look very hard to find mistakes that your young players will make.

There will be LOTS of them.

That comes with the territory any time you have beginning athletes learning new skills.

Positive Coaching

Though it's certainly important to help players develop proper mechanics, I challenge you at first to focus on the few, small things they do well.

Early on, you might just praise their effort, attitude, or hustle.

As they gain a little self-confidence and experience, it will get easier finding areas where they show improvement.

Positive reinforcement is an amazing motivator, especially for young children.

Make sure every word that comes out of your mouth while you're on the court together is positive and encouraging.

Constructive criticism is important in correcting mistakes, but youth players are overwhelmed with all of the new skills and rules they have to learn, so make sure your basketball coaching doesn't come across as too negative and critical.

You may find once the league games start that the teams are lopsided. Often, some teams are stacked with better athletes, while yours may seem less skilled.

When that happens, coaches have an especially important and challenging responsibility not to focus on wins and losses, but to focus on areas where players are showing improvement.

Youth basketball coaching tips continued...

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