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Fun Basketball Drills for Beginners

ByQueen Ballers Club| November 27, 2023If you buy something from a link on our site, Queen Ballers Club may earn a commission.
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Looking to build your basketball skills after picking up a ball a few times? We’ve got you! Discover the joys of basketball with fun basketball drills for beginners that will improve your ball handling, decision making, shooting, passing, defense, and more. These are the drills that have made our kids laugh, find their love for the game, and get better before their next game.

They’re perfect for elementary and middle school students who might want some help catching up to their peers, or for any beginner just getting started. And most can be done solo by a player working on their game on their own. Keep in mind that a few do need groups of 4+ to try, though. So grab your ball and hit the court!

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Get Started with Fun Beginner Basketball Drills

From tennis ball madness to a wild zoo, and even thrilling tic tac toe, there’s something to delight all your beginners hoopers. Let’s get into it!

1. Tennis ball catch series

OK we don’t know what the magic is, but kids simply love when you introduce a tennis ball into the equation. There are a number of ways you can have them toss and throw a tennis ball, so any way you can think of is fine. But here are a few of our favorites:

These drills help work on coordination, off-ball arm work, and multi-tasking.

It can be done solo or with a group of players.

2. Double ball challenges

Interestingly enough, having two basketballs seems to be a ‘fun’ cheat code as well. So here are a few of our favorite ways to have players work on two ball dribbling:

These drills help work on coordination, improving their weak hand, and multi-tasking.

It can be done solo or with a group of players.

3. Safari dribble challenge

It’s about to be a zoo! For this drill your players will dribble ‘like’ different animals up the length of the court. For example, first they need to imitate a turtle, dribbling very low and slow. Then they can imitate a cheetah, going super fast with long steps. A bunny might be a good one to do next as they move very unpredictably: slow, then fast, from side to side, in circles, etc. You can also let each player pick and animal for everyone to do one time down the court. For the final round, call out multiple animals as they make their way down the court, so that they’re combining all sorts of styles.

This drill helps work on change of pace and direction.

It can be done solo or with a group of players.

4. Knock away tag

Kids love tag so this is an easy one to implement. Identify a specific area for kids to play tag within, such as the half court or free throw box. Everyone has their own ball and must dribble as they run. Everyone’s goal is to knock the other players’ balls out of the area. The last person who still has their ball in the area wins. You can also continuously reduce the size of the area as kids get out, to keep making it even more challenging to maintain their dribble from the other players safely.

This drill works on their ball handling, defensive steals, reaction, (and sometimes) speed too.

This drill needs to be done with a group of players (ideally 4+).

5. Monkey in the middle

You might remember playing this during recess as a kid. Basically there’s one person on defense, and they are in the middle of a surrounding circle of the other players. The players in the outer circle must pass the ball to one another without the monkey getting it. Once the monkey gets it, they switch out into the outer circle and the person who threw the pass that got picked off goes into the middle. The coach can call out who the ball needs to be passed to, or let kids make the decision. Since there is no official ‘end’ you can do the drill for a certain amount of time, or until everyone has been the monkey. You can have the players in the circle do certain types of passes: for example they must throw a behind the back pass, or left hand bounce pass, etc.

This drill helps players hone in on their defense, reaction and making reads, while working on good passes.

This drill needs to be done with a group of players (ideally 4+).

6. Knock out

This is another recess favorite. Pick one spot on the court to shoot from – typically it’s the foul line, but you can but it anywhere you want (and switch it up if you want to run the drill through multiple times). Everyone stands in a line behind one another at the foul line. The first player has a basketball and so does the second. The goal is to score first. The first player shoots their free throw, and if they miss they get their rebound and keep shooting until they score – OR until the player behind them scores. The second player can begin shooting as soon as the first player has released their ball for their shot. If the second player scores first, the first person is out. Players pass their balls to the next players in line as soon as they score or et out. The game continues until there’s just one player left.

This drill is great because it provides experience with shooting under pressure and teaches the importance of rebounding.

This drill needs to be done with a group of players (ideally 4+).

7. Spin shooting

For this drill, players have the ball in their hands, face away from the basket, then must jump and spin 180 degrees to face toward the basket, and shoot. Let them pick anywhere in the mid-range to shoot from. Time players for 30 seconds to see how many shots they can make. The winner is the person who has the most. Then (just for more advanced or high school beginners) run it back but with three-point shots. You can also do a similar drill where they have to shoot off just their right leg, (or just their left leg), after first touching the ball with the ground using only that let, and then shooting.

This drill works on their balance and shooting form.

It can be done solo or with a group of players.

8. Cone collection challenge

For this drill just spread a bunch of cones out across the court. The goal is for each player to get as many as they can, or you can time each player as they get all of them (with the goal of them being the fastest). You can let kids just pick up the cones any way they’d like for the first round. The next round specify their dribbling hand (i.e. you must dribble with only your left), and then the following round do their other hand. You can also have them do specific movements at the cone before being able to pick it up. For instance they must do a ‘drop’, crossover, etc before picking up each cone.

A fun alternative to this drill is to let the kids blow bubbles, and other players have to try to pop as many bubbles as possible, while dribbling.

This drill works on ball handling, and helps kids ‘get low’.

9. Underhand layup cones

We dare you to find a kid that doesn’t love knocking cones over! Place 5-10 cones in a row and have your player stand about 3 feet away from them. Have them toss the ball up in the air using the same form they’d use to shoot an underhand layup, but with the goal of knocking each of the cones over one at a time. Time how long it takes them to knock all the cones over this way, and then have them try to beat their time. You can also specify they need to do a round with their weak hand as well. Then progress to standing about 3 feet away from the basketball hoop, and needing to hit the backboard three times using the same form – do this for each side of the backboard (so, twice). Depending upon how they do (if this is easy for them), potentially teach them the footwork for an underhand layup, and have them progress to making three in a row on each side, and with each hand.

This drill is great for working on underhand layups and expanding their finishing package.

It can be done solo or with a group of players.

10. Tic tac toe

Our last very fun drill for elementary and middle school beginners is a fun game of tic tac toe. Pair up players, and each duo will play their own game. Using chalk or pen and paper, create a tic tac toe board. Anytime anyone makes a bucket, they get to put down their tic tac toe mark (an X or O), to try to win the tic tac toe game. The first player shoots from anywhere they want. If they make it they put down their TTT mark, and the second player also tries to make the same shot (writing their TTT mark if they make the shot). Then the first player shoots from a new spot. If s/he misses it (no TTT mark), the second player gets to shoot from any spot. If the second player makes it (TTT mark), the first player must shoot from their spot as well. The progression continues until someone wins the actual written game of tic tac toe.

In case you’re not familiar with how the written portion of tic tac toe works, here are the rules:

  1. The game is played on a grid that’s 3 squares by 3 squares.
  2. One player is an X mark, one player is O. Players take turns putting their marks in empty squares.
  3. The first player to get 3 of her marks in a row (up, down, across, or diagonally) is the winner.
  4. When all 9 squares are full, the game is over. If no player has 3 marks in a row, the game ends in a tie.

This drill works on shooting under pressure.

This drill needs to be done with a group of players (2).

Bonus: Rock paper scissors

For this drill pairs of players square off. They face each other at half court with one ball on the ground in between them. The player play rock paper scissors. The loser is on defense. The winner picks up the ball and tries to score a layup. If they score they get a point. If the defender gets the ball or the offensive player doesn’t score, the defense gets a point. Play til someone gets 5 points first.

In case you aren’t familiar with rock, paper, scissors, here’s how that works: Both players start each round by saying, “rock, paper, scissors, shoot!” together. On “shoot,” each player holds out their fist for rock, flat hand for paper, or their index and middle finger for scissors. Rock crushes scissors, scissors cut paper, and paper covers rock.

This drill works on quick decision making, as well as offensive drives, and defense.

This drill needs to be done with a group of players (2).

Enjoy Fun Basketball Drills

Remember it’s just about improving 1% every day. Keep practicing and keep your head up. Up next explore basketball shooting drills for beginners. Or learn all about how two-time WNBA Champion Alysha Clark overcame imposter syndrome.

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