So your son/daughter is going to try basketball, and you received that phone call that most parents dread. "Hi we have heard that 25 years ago you played basketball once for 10 minutes on a six foot hoop in your backyard. Congratulations, that makes you the most qualified to coach this years team. What's that? You don't have the time? Well we need you really badly, if you don't do it we may not have a team. And of course you do it.  In the end, it will fun, rewarding and you will probably be looking forward to next season. But there are a few things you should consider before that first practice.

Things to Consider

Before Running Your First



can I make the gym safe?

your players and yourself. It is a coaches responsibility

  1. Get to the gym early to inspect it.

  2. Are there any problems with the floor that need to be

  3. Are there change rooms/washrooms available?

  4. Are their mats on the walls behind the backboards?

  5. Is their any equipment that is too close to the sidelines?

  6. Will anyone other than parents and kids be in the gym?

  7. Where are the emergency exits? Where is a phone in case of an


can I adapt to accommodate the age/abilities of the kids?

any drill/game you play, you may need to adjust so that the kids can experience
        success and develop and have fun.

  1. Lower the height of the hoop if possible

  2. Reduce the boundaries of the playing area.

  3. Decrease or increase the numbers of balls.

  4. Restrict the game to make it simpler or to make it emphasize a
    certain area. Eg: No dribble games to encourage passing.

  5. Score the game differently to encourage certain behaviors.
    Award points for defense, encouragement, positive attitudes, passes etc.


will I manage the kids to make the practice  more effective?

  1. Be organized. It is important that things move quickly and that
    you do as little time explaining activities as possible. You will probably
    only have there attention for 30-45 seconds.

  2. Use teaching formation: Have them stand on specific line or in
    a semi circle facing you before you speak. Have the kids put balls or
    other equipment down to reduce the chance of distraction.

  3. Wait for quiet. Do not talk over bouncing balls or other people
    talking. This will reduce frustration and help the kids to focus better.

  4. Use signals to get there attention. When the kids are active
    all over the gym, it can be difficult to rein them in. Use a whistle or
    establish a signal like standing in one spot with a raised hand.

  5. Have a parent policy. Parents can both help or hurt a practice.
    If they are interested you may want to get them involved. They could be a
    passes in a drill or set up equipment. However, parents in gym can be
    distracting to both you and the players. You may want to ask them to wait
    outside the gym.

  6. Praise the behaviors rather than results. Praise kids often
    for effort attention, sportsmanship, fairplay and the values you are trying
    to encourage.  You can and should
    expect these things so always encourage them.

  7. Involve and engage all of the kids. Be aware of the time you
    spend with each kid. Coaches can be caught up working too much with the
    talented kids or with one remedial player. Try to balance your time.

  8. Watch for frustration. Kids will often act out because they
    feel confused or incompetent. Help them to understand or adapt to the


only have 1 practice/week, how can get everything done?


You can’t. Just concentrate on using your
time effectively and giving each kid a positive sports experience. Using time

  1. Be prepared have a detailed practice plan.

  2. Coach on the fly. Be flexible, you plan will not be perfect.
    You may need to adjust as you go.

  3. Don’t stop coaching. The best youth coaches give constant
    encouragement and instruction. Try to refrain from getting into lengthy
    discussions with parents during the practice, have meetings outside of
    practice time. You have 1 hour of gym, have 1 hour of Active practice!

  4. Shut off you cell phone.


can I make it fun for the kids?

  1. Be enthusiastic. Your players will likely reflect your energy
    and enthusiasm.

  2. Consider the games approach. Don’t use your father’s textbook
    drills. Try to make a game that teaches the skills.

  3. Use all the equipment. Have the shortest lineups possible. Use
    all the hoops and all the balls possible. 

Specific drills and ideas for practices are coming very shortly on this website!

If you desperate, call a high school coach in your area. Thery are often more than willing to help out. Or, send me a instant message on this site.  Good luck.


Subscribe to Email Newsletter
Share this article to...