Should Youth Basketball Practices be Fun?

My friend Sefu Bernard posted the link to this video on his twitter feed. Enjoy.

How does the video relate to basketball practice? If making it fun to walk up the stairs encourages more people to walk up the stairs, can a coach change his players’ behavior through fun drills as opposed to yelling or running?

Basically, do drills need to be fun?

When players do not pay attention at practice, or when a coach believes that the players are not playing hard, coaches tend to yell or make the players run. Why?

Running does not motivate the players to play harder or pay attention. If anything, this behavior creates an antagonistic relationship between coach and player. Instead, a coach wants to create an environment where the coach and players work together to meet similar goals.

When I see players losing focus, I change the drill. I want to end a drill at its peak, before the effort, intensity, execution and interest start to wane.

I also try to keep drills fresh so players feel like they are constantly learning something new. For instance, rather than doing zigzag defensive slides, I use a drill called “Mirror Defense.” Rather than do straight-line ball handling drills, I play tag. My goals are the same, but the drills are more active, competitive and fun.

By Brian McCormick
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League

4 thoughts on “Should Youth Basketball Practices be Fun?

  • Excellent post, Brian!

    I plan to share this not only with my colleagues, but with my players and students as well. It’s an excellent reminder about how we as educators shouldn’t just yell and punish, but need to truly motivate and engage students if you want a positive response.

    Thanks for the video, as well as your insights.

  • I used the “Tic Tac Toe” with kids and young players from different levels and also with my primary school groups over the last weeks: Everybody enjoeyed it. Added dribbling and different difficulties while running. It was competetive and fun to watch. Makes practice fun, competetive and interesting.

    Lost focus during practice? Stop and change. Running is boring and stupid for basketball players, because we always have somebody or something in our way. Make running/sprinting game like and interesting.

    Thanks a lot for all your post and videos. I’ll always find something to learn and think about.

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