Coaching Youth Basketball with Limited Time (1 Practice a Week)
“I coach 5th grade girls. We only practice once a week for one hour. What would you recommend that we focus on during that short amount of time”?
Summarized in a few words…
In that short amount of time, I would focus on SKILLS, allow the kids some time to play, and give them homework.
To give you an example, here’s a way to work on Skills (fundamentals) and Motion Offense at the same time…
1. First, pick a couple cuts or screens that you think would be good for your team. For example, you could choose down-screens and away-screens.
2. Next, run shooting drills that incorporate those movements. You could have two offensive players (no defense). One player on the wing, another player on the block. A coach or third player could have the ball on top of the key. The player on the wing sets a down screen, the other player rubs off the screen, catches the ball, pivots, and shoots. Now repeat over and over. Your players are working on screens (part of your motion offense), pivoting footwork and shooting (skills).
3. You can do the same thing with away screens, basket cuts, and any type of cut or screen. The key is to choose a couple elements from your motion offense and turn those elements into skill building drills. Your imagination is the only limit to the types of drills you can come up with. It doesn’t hurt to mix things up and make the youth basketball drills fun too.
By practicing this way, you’ll save a ton of time and get a lot more done.
Also, you’re providing drills that your players can practice on their own. Don’t be afraid to give them some homework. Some players will put in the work outside of practice to get better.
Let them play
After practicing skills, I would let them play at the end. It’s up to you how much time you spend scrimmaging. But as an example, you could work on skills for 45 minutes, then scrimmage for 15 minutes at the end. In practice, I think kids need to play at least a little bit.
During the scrimmage, start by showing the kids general spacing. You’ll probably want to put tape on the floor so they know the basic motion offense spots. Then just tell them to play. If they don’t know what to do, just say “Do you remember the down screen drill we did at the beginning of practice? Do that. Sometimes it will work, sometimes it won’t That’s ok. If it doesn’t work, do it again.”
Now you have worked on skills, you have the beginning of a motion offense, and your kids are “learning how to play”.
How productive do you think that hour would be if you spent nearly the entire time teaching them a set play or a patterned offense? It takes a long time for kids to learn and remember patterns and plays. Kids will get VERY little benefit from that!
That’s the great thing about a motion offense. You can work on skills and motion offense at the same time.
You could even practice some man to man defense during the scrimmage. Just have one coach responsible for making minor corrections during the scrimmage. This coach only watches the defense and tries to improve their positioning.
This is how you get the MOST out a short amount of time. Kids need to play, learn skills, and have fun.