As the kids go back to school, we suggest coaches take basketball back to the basics. Not just the basic fundamental skills that first call to mind (dribbling, shooting, or passing) but the body behind them, and the Fundamental Movement Skills.
The idea of Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS) is certainly not new. But to clarify, FMS refers to basic movement skills categorized into stability, locomotion and object control. While dribbling, shooting and passing are important aspects to the game of basketball, developing an athlete’s physical characteristics is critical to their overall long-term development. These basic skills may consist of:
- Athletic stance
- Running forward and backward
- Starting and stopping
- Change of direction
- Hopping, skipping, and jumping
- Lunging and squatting
- Pushing and pulling
As coaches prepare for the upcoming season, consider stripping away the ball. Allow yourself and your players to focus on improving the form and function of the skills listed above. By extension, improving a player’s comfort level without the ball will ultimately improve their ability with the ball.
Many of you may already be incorporating these skills into warm-up activities, but consider extending these skills beyond the warm-up. It is important that these skills be adapted to the age group in question, but the goal is to formulate a solid baseline for your athletes.
Here we present a few activity examples to get your athletes moving in new and different ways to gain more confidence and control when using their bodies.
FOCUS Using different muscles and body planes
EXECUTION Players start at one baseline. Choose an animal for players to imitate, having one player demonstrate. Players move to the other baseline (or half court) imitating the animal. Choose a variety of animals and have players suggest their own.
- Horse (galloping/skipping)
- Bear (walking on hands and feet)
- Deer (bounding)
- Stork (balancing on one foot, reaching to the ground)
- Kangaroo (hopping on two feet)
- Crab (walking on hands and feet, belly up)
- Frog (low squat jumps)
- Caterpillar (touch ground and walk hands out, then walk feet to hands bending body at the hips)
NOTES This activity is especially effective with younger athletes – encourage players to imitate the sounds of each animal as well!
FOCUS Experiment with fundamental movements and improve focus
EXECUTION Distribute cones randomly throughout the gym. Have players start at one baseline, divided into groups. The first player moves to a cone, and performs an action (i.e. broad jump). The second player will repeat that action, then move to a new cone and perform their own action (i.e. push-up). The third player will repeat both actions at each cone, then move to a new cone and perform their own action (i.e. lateral shuffle). The game continues with each player.
- Jumping jacks
- One-foot hops
- Squat jumps
- High knees
- Butt kicks
- Broad jump
- Tall jump
NOTES Have players perform movements either in place (push-ups or sit-ups) or on the way from cone to cone (shuffles or jumps). As players get more comfortable, consider adding balls to include dribbling moves and actions.
Ham, Chicken, and Cheese
FOCUS Reaction time, change of direction, stopping and starting
EXECUTION Assign one baseline as “Ham”, the other baseline as “Chicken”, and the centre line as “Cheese”. Call one line at a time – players move to each line as it is called. A line can be called at any time (i.e. don’t have wait for players to reach a line before calling the next line). Start with simple jogging and running, and move to other fundamental movements.
- Running forward and backward
- Lateral shuffle
- Skipping / hopping
- Bear crawl
- Bounds / broad jumps
- Crab walk
NOTES Add additional lines (i.e. free-throw line extended) to increase the complexity. Add basketballs to include basic dribbling actions. For more mature groups, this can also be used as a conditioning drill.
These are the types of activities that develop strong movement patterns that each player will use in various ways and in various athletic pursuits for the rest of their lives. This is in no way a comprehensive list, but it provides a good sample of the FMS based activities used in the Steve Nash Youth Basketball Curriculum.
We always encourage coaches to develop their own drills and games. Get creative, experiment, and try something new. You know your young athletes best, and if you can find ways to keep them engaged in the session while moving in new and different ways, you have done your job as a coach.
Emma Glasgow is the Athletic Coordinator at St. Margaret’s School in Victoria, BC. Emma is a multi-sport athlete and coach with a passion for basketball, a Bachelor’s of Physical Education & Health and a Master’s of Education in Coaching.
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