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Youth Basketball Plays:
Strategies to Develop Better Players

Youth basketball plays are too often built in the same way plays are built for older players. Big mistake. If you tell younger players to "cut here, wait for A to pass to B, then cut there..." and so on, they don't learn how to play, they learn how to follow commands. What you want to focus on are the basketball skills.

Kids basketball needs to focus on skill development in all areas, and that means in practice as well as in games. Kids need to be taught solid fundamentals in all areas at this level if they are to develop into good players as they get older. Focus on the basics of:

Good fundamentals taught in younger years will make a huge difference in these kids playing futures. Trying to break a varsity player of bad habits that have been built up over years is a nightmare and quite often impossible - teach good habits now and help them become better players for life.

As for youth basketball plays, you want them to do two things:

  • provide real-play practice for these skills they are developing
  • teach them how the game works - how plays develop, how to get free, how to work with others, how to look for openings and take advantage of opportunities when they arise - in short, how to see the game and think for themselves

What you need to teach them is a second skill set - offensive movements:

These little plays in combination make up any play out there, so if players know how to perform these well, they will be able to adapt to any play thrown at them.

There is really only one play i would use with youth players, one play that helps them develop into better players and learn how and when to use these little plays in game situations. In my mind, the best youth basketball play to run is The Passing Game.

This is a great play to use at any level (Dean Smith used it to great success at North Carolina), but I would advocate it almost as a necessity at the youth level for its focus on basic skills and for helping players learn to read the defense and reacting accordingly.

And from a defensive point of view, since there are no exact set of movements to follow and so it will be very unpredictable, it will be a very difficult play to defend against.

The passing play gives inexperienced youth players the experience they need to confidently execute these fundamental basketball moves, so that as they continue on into varisty play and perhaps beyond, they will be able to handle any offense thrown at them.

For more information and drills to develop the fundamental basketball moves so important to running a solid youth basketball play, check out the pages on fundamental offensive movements.

View more options for running a Youth Basketball Plays here

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""There are no shortcuts to any place worth going." - Beverly Sills

Want something more visual?

Check out UMass Head Coach Derek Kellogg's video package of drills


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