Depending on age groups, getting younger players on your youth basketball team to focus can be difficult. However, the time they spend with you in practice is the most formative of their young athletic careers. It is crucial to your team’s success that their time in practice is both productive and informative. Here are a few tips that you can use to optimize your practice

Cut Out Lines

Kids who aren’t actively participating in practice are probably losing interest as things are going on. Try to recruit other coaches to help run practices so you can set up multiple stations in order to cover more topics. Split the team into different groups, focus on different skills, and have everyone constantly moving rather than waiting to take part in one specific drill.

Increase Your Ball Count

Having ten players share one basketball during practice severely limits what they’re able to learn. While playing without the ball is certainly an important part of basketball, it’s important that the players on your roster get familiar with ball handling, especially in a youth league. Try to make sure that there are several balls in use so multiple players are able to improve what they’ll be doing on game day.

Find What Works for Each Player

Even at a young age, athletes respond to different teaching techniques. This is another reason why bringing in assistant coaches who may relate to players differently than you do can be very impactful. If a child needs positive reinforcement, focus on praising what they’ve done well. Some children may need a more firm technique when it comes to coaching, so don’t be afraid to provide that. Knowing your roster will help you become the coach they need you to be.

Practice with Games in Mind

Setting up different game scenarios will enable your team to be ready when live action actually tips off. Even if you have a small roster, you can play a scrimmage game with smaller sides or set up competitive drills. The point is to make practice feel like an in-game situation.

Losing Isn’t the Only “L” to Eliminate

While you don’t want your team to “Take the ‘L” on game day, there are other L’s you want to avoid. Lines, lectures, and laps all do more harm than good. As mentioned before, having children remain inactive in lines disengages them, and they’re not there to listen to you teach an hour class on basketball. Having players run laps without the ball in their hands is essentially a waste of time and energy, as well, in some cases.