Best Basketball Passing Drills for Kids

Teaching Kids How to Pass and Move the Ball Down the Court

When it comes to basketball, passing the ball is the definition of teamwork. Players need to learn how to work together if they’re going to get anywhere on the court. If you’re a coach or a summer basketball camp instructor, you can use these passing drills for kids to help your team understand the joys of teamwork.

Partner Passing

This drill could easily be renamed Passing 101. It’s a great choice if you’re working with a group of kids that are just getting to know the sport. Start out by separating the group into pairs with one basketball per pair. The players should be standing on the opposite sides of the court. They can either pass the ball to one another from where they’re standing, or they can dribble the ball for a few steps and then pass. Stand near the baseline and you will have a good view of how your players are passing the ball. You can always switch to a new type of pass, such as a chest pass, base pass or even a one-handed pass to make the drill more challenging.

Stationary Keepings Off

Passing is about more than just form and execution; it’s about making decisions and solving problems in real-time. Instead of running the ball single-handedly down the court, this drill teaches players how to protect and pass the ball when they’re under fire from the opposite team. Start by splitting up the group into two teams, defense and offense. The team on offense should be focused on passing the ball between players without moving around the court. The players will quickly learn how to move the ball long distances without dribbling as a last resort.

It’s best if you limit this drill to half the court or just the three-point line. After a few rounds, give the other team a shot at playing offense. Every player should have a chance to catch and pass the ball. If someone is getting the cold shoulder on the court, step in and pass them the ball.

Continuous 3 on 2

As you might’ve guessed, this drill pits three players on offense against two players on defense. Offense gets an extra player so that there’s always someone free to catch the ball if the players are keeping a safe distance from the two players on defense. There should be a few players left over standing on the edge of the sideline. When the team on offense scores a point, or loses the ball to defense, the teams switch. One player from the offensive team gets sidelined, while the next player in line joins the new offensive team. This cycle gives every player a chance to play on both teams, all the while helping them master the art of passing of the ball with the goal of taking a shot.

Depending on the experience level of the group, you can make things more difficult by forcing them not to dribble the ball. In this scenario, passing becomes their only option. Use these drills to kick off the new school year and make it the best season yet.

Learn more drills from the pros at Kenny Smith’s summer basketball camp.

Basketball Shooting Drills for Kids

Teaching Kids How to Make the Perfect Shot

If you’re a coach that’s looking to teach a group of young players how to shoot, there are dozens of basketball shooting drills that are designed specifically for beginners and children. They teach kids about the many variables when it comes to scoring, including how to approach the net, passing the ball before a shot, and practicing good footwork. Get ready for the new school year or make the most of this year’s summer basketball camp with these shooting drills for kids.


This drill is great for kids because it forces them to focus purely on getting the ball through the net. Start by having everyone form three different lines in front of the hoop, one straight on, one to the left, and one to the right. Every player will approach the net with the goal of getting a perfect swoosh. The kids should only be a few feet from the net, so this is a good opportunity for them to work on their shooting form without having to worry about passing or dribbling. Make sure that the players hold their shooting position for the duration of the shot. This gives you, the coach, some time to evaluate each player individually.


A classic game for all ages, “pressure” is used to help kids learn how to shoot a free throw. Form one line in front of the free throw line and give the first person in line a basketball. Every player should take turns making a shot. Once a player makes a shot, the next person in line is under pressure to do the same. If they miss, they’re out of the game. This pattern continues until there’s only one player left standing. Don’t be afraid to jump in to keep the kids on their toes. If you have a large group, you can create two lines, one at each end of the court.

Pivot Shooting

If your players are starting to get the hang of it, you can start using the “pivot shooting” drill. Have the players form a line at the baseline. Position yourself or another coach at the free throw line. The player will start out by passing you the ball as they make a dash for the free throw line. As soon as they reach the line, pass them the ball. They should catch the ball, pivot towards the net, and make a shot all in one motion.

If you’re looking for more drill ideas, keep in touch with the pros at the Kenny Smith’s Summer Basketball Camp.

Building Family Bonds Through Sports

Sports are of course a way to have fun and stay in shape, but for families they provide an additional benefit: a way to bond.

Through sports, you can introduce your kids to new ways of being active, facilitate a little friendly competition, and give your child unconditional support and encouragement. Basketball is an especially good choice for families as you can easily create a home basketball court and there are lots of basketball-related games you can play. Putting your kids in basketball camp is also a great way to introduce basketball to their lives.

Read on for more about how sports can facilitate family bonding.

Introduce your kids to active games

Your kids may know about soccer but do they know about futsal?

Schedule a family sports night or set aside a summer day for some family sports time and teach your kids (and maybe yourself) some new sports and games. Learning a new sport or game is fun, and even more so when you’re doing it together.

There are a ton of sports and active games to choose from and most of these can be adapted to suit different ages, levels, and preferences. Consider playing basketball, tennis, volleyball, or hockey; doing aerobics; or even partaking in some line dancing. You’re bound to have lots of laughs and bonding time.

In terms of basketball games, you can play H-O- R-S- E, Lightning!, Twenty One, Around the World, or All-Star Shootout. And if your child attends a basketball camp, he’ll likely learn even more!

Foster some fun family competition

In addition to the techniques and rules associated with these games, your kids will also learn about teamwork and sportsmanship. Indeed, while winning is fun, it’s important to learn how to lose and how to play fair. These are vital skills for life and when the family plays sports together, parents can model teamwork and sportsmanship for their kids, allowing the kids to cultivate these skills in a safe, supportive environment.

Provide support and encouragement

Sports are also a great way for parents to support and encourage their kids. Whether the child is just learning how to play a sport or he is already experienced—and whether or not the parents are personally interested in the child’s sport of choice—it’s important that children feel supported and that they have the opportunity to explore that sport and expand their skills.

And this probably goes without saying but make sure that you’re not forcing the child to do a sport they don’t want to do or that they aren’t willing to work at. If the child decides the sport isn’t for them, allow them to stop doing it without negative feelings about their decision.

Sports such as basketball are a fun and effective way of building family bonds. Families can learn sports together, have fun with a little harmless competition, develop important skills such as sportsmanship and teamwork, and give parents a way to show their kids endless amounts of support and encouragement. Try to get some family sports time in before the summer ends!

And if a player really wants to improve their basketball game, they should consider signing up for summer basketball camp. Practicing in the off season is a great way to keep those newly-developed skills fresh and effective. Check out the Kenny Smith Basketball Camp for Boys and Girls for more information about summer registration.

Youth Basketball Drills: Basic Footwork

When teaching fundamental basketball skills at the school level, or at a summer basketball camp, footwork is the only place to start. Good footwork is what allows offensive players to create space and finish shots. And it’s what allows defensive players to stay in front of their man, deny the offense the ball, retrieve rebounds and loose balls, and get into position to help their teammates. In short, no amount of ball-handling or dribbling skills in the world will help you if you don’t have solid footwork fundamentals.

Here are a few footwork drills to help young players develop the balance and coordination they need to be successful on the court:

Quick Stance

Before your players progress toward more complex footwork, it’s important that they know how to position their bodies for quick bursts on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Run them through the basics of the offensive triple threat position, and defensive quick stance, making sure their feet are firmly planted shoulder-width apart, their knees and elbows are bent, and their arms are tucked close to their bodies and not out waving around. With younger players, it helps to practice the offensive stance without the ball first.

Triple Threat Footwork

Once they’ve got the fundamentals of the triple threat position, they can move on to some basic footwork drills. When playing offense, you want your players to spread out in order to stretch the defense. This involves having an innate sense of space and positioning on the court. This simple drill is designed to teach your players how to quickly transition from the triple threat stance, and build awareness of proper spacing on offense.

Step 1 – Arrange your players in two lines on both sides of the free throw lane.

Step 2 – Get your players into a quick stance position, and on your command, have them step with their right foot and jog to half court. When the first player gets out to about 19 feet, have the next player begin his run, and so on. Again, this is a simple drill, but after a while it will help build a good sense of proper spacing in your young players’ minds.

Quick Stop

The quick stop is a key footwork fundamental, allowing players to stop on a dime off the dribble, or when receiving a pass and immediately be in a position to pivot on either foot.

Step 1 – Line your players up on the baseline.

Step 2 – On your signal, have your players jog toward half court.

Step 3 – On your second whistle, your players will perform a quick stop. Try to mix up your timing, so your players can’t anticipate when to go into their quick stop. Watch to make sure they are not jumping and flying through the air. You want their hops to be small, quick and controlled. Make sure that they are landing softly but firmly on both feet in triple threat position.

Try to spend at least 15-20 minutes on footwork drills during every practice session. It’s best to do this early in the practice session so that these drills can serve as a foundation for the rest of the workout. The more your young players understand the importance of basic footwork, the better their game will progress as they continue to pick up more complex skills.

If a player really wants to improve their footwork on the court, they should consider signing up for summer basketball camp. Practicing in the off season is a great way to keep those newly-developed skills fresh and effective. Check out the Kenny Smith Basketball Camp for Boys and Girls for more information about summer registration.

How to Stay Focused During a Basketball Game

Improving Concentration on the Basketball Court

Young athletes and high school students have so much to contend with these days with homework, college applications, social media, and everything else going on at home and school. For some players, putting all these distractions aside can feel next to impossible. Concentration is a vital part of any sport. A player’s mind needs to be squarely on the task at hand. If not, chances are that the player and the rest of the team will end up suffering. Whether you’re a coach or a player that’s looking to improve your game, take a moment to learn about the best ways to improve concentration on the court.

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice lies at the heart of success. In order to truly succeed and stay focused on the court, a player needs to have a firm command of their abilities. Practicing the same drills or moves over and over helps a player create what’s known as muscle memory. When the player finds themselves in the same position during the game, their body will know exactly what to do without a second thought. Any sense of confusion or hesitation on the court can be fatal. That’s why it’s important for players to whittle down the game to a few core exercises. Whether it’s footwork, dribbling, or making the winning shot, practice always makes perfect.

Setting Goals for Individual Players

There are dozens of exterior factors that a player might want to focus on during a game such as their parents, the crowd, or the scoreboard. But focusing on one particular goal will help the player block out of all that unnecessary information. Coaches and players should get in the habit of assigning individual goals to help boost performance. Scoring an extra free throw, blocking more shots on defense, or passing the ball will help steer players from hesitation and back to the task at hand.

Leading a Healthy Lifestyle

Setting goals for individual players and practicing to no end will only get young athletes so far. Regardless of whether they play a sport, a young person’s body needs a good night’s sleep, lots of water and healthy food if they’re going to succeed at pretty much anything. Mental concentration is directly related to diet, hydration, and sleep. While hitting the McDonald’s drive-thru on the way to practice might sound innocent enough, all those empty calories and excess sodium will only hurt the player in the long run. While no one can control a teenager’s cravings, coaches and parents should do their best to encourage players to lead a healthy lifestyle.

If a player really wants to improve their mental concentration on the court, they should consider signing up for summer basketball camp. Practicing in the off season is a great way to keep those newly-developed skills fresh and effective. Check out the Kenny Smith Basketball Camp for Boys and Girls for more information about summer registration.

Teaching Teamwork Through Basketball

Learning how to work with others in a team or group setting is an invaluable life lesson. When kids learn teamwork, they learn how to socialize, how to cooperate, how to cope with failure, how to work for a common goal, and how to accept responsibility for their actions, and all of these skills will help them to become stronger, more confident people in all aspects of their lives as they continue to grow and mature. And team sports—In this case, basketball—are one of the easiest ways to teach kids these important life lessons.

Why basketball?

The most obvious reason: it’s fun. When kids are playing basketball, they’re only focused on the game. They’re too focused on running, shooting, guarding, and competing to even noticing that they’re being taught valuable life lessons about teamwork and cooperation. And when this process is overseen by experienced professionals, like at a summer basketball camp, or school league, there is no room for fighting, blaming, or finger-pointing.

The other reason basketball in particular is a great sport for teaching teamwork, is that it truly is a team sport. Take baseball for instance. While baseball can certainly teach some good lessons in teamwork, the one-on- one aspect of pitcher versus hitter opens the door for individual heroics. Even if the rest of the team strikes out every at-bat, one player is all it takes to hit a couple home runs and win the game, whereas in basketball, no matter how skilled any single player is on the squad, he or she cannot succeed if the whole team doesn’t work together as a unit.

How does basketball teach teamwork?

  • Selflessness – The offensive part of the game provides great opportunities to teach young players to be unselfish as they work together to score and win. When you’re selfish on the basketball court, your whole team suffers. On offense, the key to scoring is to confuse the defense so they don’t know who is going to take the next shot or where that shot will come from. This is where selflessness is key. If there is only one star player taking all the shots for the team, the defense will simply double up on that player and mark them out of the game. If that star player tries to be selfish and hog the ball, he or she is going to be shut down and end up turning the ball over and hurting the team. However, if your top scorer learns to be unselfish, he or she can actually use the defense against itself by drawing their attention and then passing the ball to an open player.
  • Cooperation – On defense, rotation is key. If you see that an offensive player has been left open, or beat his or her defender to create a scoring opportunity, and you are near enough to step in and provide a second layer of defense, you then have to trust one of your teammates to step in and defend the open space that you leave behind while trying to break up the play. This means that players on a team have to learn how to look out for each other, and support each other when they are vulnerable. After a while this becomes instinctual, and players learn to both take care of their own positions, while keeping an eye out for their teammates and naturally rotating in when the defense is in trouble.
  • Accountability – Just like in life, making mistakes is a natural part of basketball. If you miss an “easy” shot, or get caught out of position, or get burned on defense, the whole team suffers and you feel it. This provides excellent opportunities to teach kids to recognize and learn from their mistakes, and take accountability when they let themselves or their teammates down.
  • Coping with Failure – Nobody likes to lose. But, losing as a team can be a great bonding experience. Just like no single star player can win by themselves, no team loses because of one single individual poor performance. When the team gives its all and still has to take a loss, each player is forced to look at their performance and think about how they can work better as a team to win the next one.

From getting great exercise to learning better communication and cooperation skills, enrolling your kids in a league or basketball camp is a great way to build their confidence, improve their ability to work with others, and generally make them more well-rounded individuals. And the best part: They’ll never feel like they’re learning, because they’ll be having a blast the entire time.

Best Pre-Game Habits for Basketball Players

How to Warm Up Before a Basketball Game

Basketball requires a great deal of endurance, concentration, and strategic maneuvering. Being a great player means training your body and your mind. Regardless of what position you have on the court, you need to be able to move fast and have the mental energy to outsmart your opponents. In order to do everything at once and be a truly excellent player, you need to have a well-rounded pre-game strategy. The night and hours before a big game are crucial. With school letting out, players are getting ready to head off to summer basketball camp. Before you dive into a new summer, learn about the best pre-game habits that lead to success.

Preparing Your Body

Your first job is to take care of your body. That means getting plenty of sleep the night before, but not too much. You should aim for 8 to 9 hours. You also need to eat a healthy meal the night before and a nutritious breakfast the day of. Make sure that you’re getting plenty of protein from lean meats, veggies, fruit and whole grain carbs. Last but not least, stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water the night before and the day of the big game.

As it gets closer to game time, you need to start stretching your muscles. Try to stretch every part of your arms and legs, your biggest assets on the court. By the end, your body should feel loose and strong.

Preparing Your Mind

Getting your mind in shape for the big game isn’t as straightforward as the physical part. You might listen to your favorite track on your iPod to get in the mood or have a team pow wow with your coach. Whether you’re alone or with your teammates or your coach, focus on the task at hand. Try to quiet the other thoughts in your brain that have nothing to do with basketball. Think about the role you’ll need to play on the court and how you can help your teammates. You might recall a previous match, including what went wrong and what you can do differently this time around.

Drills, Drills, Drills

In the final stretch before the game, your team and your coach should have a set list of pre-game drills. Goofing around on the court doing random shots isn’t the best approach. Doing drills is about treating your body like a machine. You shouldn’t be thinking about making a cool shot that will impress your friends. Your body should complete every step without a second thought. Whether you’re doing free throws, dribbling drills, or other exercises, repetition is key.

If you’re looking for a truly immersive summer basketball camp, check out the Kenny Smith Carolina Basketball Camp at The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.