By: BJ Williston, SPARK Trainer and Curriculum Development Consultant
Basketball is one of the most popular games in the US. It is a great pick-up sport and can be played solo, in pairs, all the way up to 5V5. Many a driveway and cul-de-sac have a basketball hoop just begging players to take a shot. The following drills and mini-games will help your students prepare for basketball.
Drills and Mini-Games for Building Basketball Skills
Basketball takes communication, focus, hustle, sprinting, jumping, ball-handling, and the skills of passing, receiving, shooting, rebounding, and defense. The following 8 activities are designed to help your students build those skills, beginning with dribbling in K-2, the give-and-go and shooting in 3-6, applying skills into mini-games in middle school, and finally playing basketball with a focus on specific offensive and defensive strategies in high school. The entire activity plans for each can be found in our Fall Sports Activity Guide.
Squirrels and Acorns
In this activity for K-2nd graders, students (squirrels) practice dribbling a ball with 1 hand and pick up “acorns” (fluffballs) with the other. They must keep a focus on their ball and dribbling under control. A SPARK It Up! Activity adds a little defense in the mix for 2nd graders challenging them to tap others’ balls away while controlling their own.
Add Em’ Up
Add Em’ Up is an activity for 3rd – 6th graders focusing on dribbling and shooting. Groups of 4 around the perimeter of a basketball court take turns, according to who is called out, dribbling to the basket and shooting for a time limit. The others in the group use another ball to practice shooting using proper technique to each other. Cues for shooting are emphasized and reinforced.
This activity, which works from 3rd grade all the way through high school, is a lot of fun and teaches students to move to open space and to play tight defense. Teams of 3 play each other in a small grid. Offensive team scores by making 3 catches in a row. Defense tries to stop them. Dribbling is not allowed. It is fast-paced and allows everyone on the team lots of opportunities to participate and practice passing and receiving and moving to open space. This same activity can be played with a variety of tossables, not just basketballs. One SPARK It Up! changes the game to add an endline goal so passes more in one direction.
Continuous Knock Out
This activity is a great one to use in middle school as students first come out for class. You could even use it as a high-activity roll-taking strategy. Groups of 6 (at most) head to a basket and shoot one at a time from the free throw line. If that player’s shot goes in, they rebound it and head back to the end of the line. If it misses, they continue shooting until either it goes in, or the player behind them shoots and makes a shot. If the player behind them gets the shot first, they are “knocked out” and simply move to another court with fewer than 6 players. It is a fun and challenging activity and should be used only after students have been taught to shoot and have been given plenty of practice.
Keep Away (3-on-2)
3-on-2 Keep Away is good for middle schoolers to work on passing and moving to open space with only 2 defenders. This allows the offense to always have someone open and it makes them more successful. SPARK It Up! includes ideas for prohibiting the dribble as well as one that makes 3 dribbles mandatory. Keep Away is always fun and active, and this activity makes it equitable by changing the defense on a time signal, not by their success.
This middle school activity is a natural progression from the elementary school activity of 3-Catch Basketball. Here, teams of 3 try to score a basket after completing at least 3 passes to teammates. Play is similar to regular basketball. If the defense steals it, they begin right away on offense. SPARK It Up! includes Royal Court Tournament options.
As the name implies, this high school activity provides instruction and practice on defense. The 2 types of defense (zone and player-to-player) are both taught. The object is to prevent your offensive opponent from scoring using good defense. By changing the number of defenders, the game can be made more or less challenging for all.
Dish and Dash
Dish and Dash is another term for Give-and-Go, the offensive strategy of passing the ball then moving to open space, preferably open for a shot, and then receiving the ball. In this activity, offense scores only after using the give-and-go and they practice this for a 1-minute period before switching roles with the defense. The Sport Literacy Integration teaches the names of the basketball offensive positions. SPARK It Up! adds or subtracts defenders to change the challenge level for the offense.
There are dozens of activities at each level of SPARK to help your students move from beginner to expert in basketball. Allowing plenty of opportunities to practice offensive skills of dribbling, passing, and shooting before adding a defender is key. Let your students gain confidence in these skills before being additionally challenged with defense.
Download the Fall Sports Activity Guide now to view these Basketball lessons, as well as lesson plans for Volleyball and Football.
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