These youth basketball coaching tips are going to focus on the basics. Coaching tips often look at "big things" - offensive plays to set up your star guard, beating a full court press, effectively containing a star player on your opponent's team. All important, for sure, but all secondary to learning strong basic fundamental skills, especially if you are coaching youth basketball.
Regardless of your game strategy, regardless of your pep talks and scouting forms, if your players can't perform basic basketball skills in game situations, your team will not win and your players will not develop.
And when we are dealing with younger, less experienced players, who don't have the fundamentals ingrained yet, focusing on their development is so much more important than winning games.
And like the first tip says, everybody dribbles, so ballhandling is a good place to start.
Dribbling is one of these fundamental skills, and in fact, perhaps the most important skill to teach simply because it is a skill used by every member of your team at one time or another. Every team member doesn't need to become an excellent ball handler - most won't - but all players need to become proficient (and a couple of them should be excellent).
Dribbling will occur in one of two general situations - when the player is closely guarded, as when your team has set up and are running their offensive play; and when the player is running the floor, trying to beat the defense to the basket, usually on a fast break. Each situation requires a different style of dribbling.
All of your players need to know how to dribble the ball when under close man-to-man defense (i.e., control dribble); in fast break situations it will usually be guards and perhaps small forwards carrying the ball, and they will need to know how to get down the court fast while dribbling (i.e., speed dribble). Both situations will arise in any game, and the team will need to be able to take advantage of either situation as it comes along. So teach both.
Have players dribble around the court, and walk around correcting their mechanics. Be sure they use both hands when dribbling, and that they switch appropriately (e.g., when dribbling with their right hand, the left hand should be out protecting the ball; when dribbling with the left hand their right hand should be protecting.) Then run some control dribble drills to reinforce the skill and to ease them into game situation usage of the skills.
One other thing to drill into them - Eyes Up! Players can't look at the ball - they need to see the floor, looking for open players or scoring opportunities. This is very often a sticky point with most players, especially young players - they want to look down. You might want to try some Dribble Specs - they've been around for decades, they're cheap and work well to keep players' eyes off the ball.
Again, as before, start off by having them run the court, dribbling, just to check their form. With the speed dribble, there isn't a lot of form to focus on - what they really need to do is to control the ball so that it doesn't bounce away from them, ahead of them or too high. And this will come with practice, as they begin to understand how the ball reacts during the speed dribble.
Basics first, and then introduce some speed dribble drills.
Dribbling is a key fundamental skill that all players need to learn - even if they may never find themselves taking the ball upcourt or leading the fast break. A player that can't dribble the ball is limited in what he can do on the court. And we don't want limitations.
Really emphasize proper fundamentals during any dribbling drills - players can't be allowed to be sloppy in practice, because they'll be sloppy in the game as well. Review and enforce strong basic skills, and then give them some drills to drive home the lessons.
"Competing in sports has taught me that if I'm not willing to give 120 percent, somebody else will."
- Ron Blomberg
Great program to help players become sensational ballhandlers