The better your players become at handling the ball — and fending off pesky opponents who try to force turnovers — the more chances your team will have to score points. This article presents knockout drills that will help your youngsters enhance their ball-handling skills.
Knockout helps players practice dribbling the basketball without looking at it. Looking down is a crutch that many young players lean on when first starting in the game. Being able to dribble with their eyes spanning the court is a pretty handy skill for your players to have on game day, when they have to deal with intrusive defenders.
What you need: Your entire team. A basketball for each player. Cones to mark off the playing area.
How it works: Mark off a playing area about 1/4 the size of the basketball court. Scatter the kids around the drill area so that you leave a few feet between each player.
1. Begin the drill by having each player start dribbling his ball.
2. Players then start moving around the drill area trying to knock balls away from their teammates while maintaining possession of their own balls.
3. When a player loses his ball, he’s knocked out of the drill. The last player dribbling wins! If you don’t have enough basketballs to go around, give half the kids balls to start with while the other half simply play defense. This is a good way to incorporate a defensive element into the drill — giving players practice guarding multiple ball handlers.
To minimize the standing-around time, you can set up another drill or perhaps a shooting station so kids who get knocked out can keep practicing while their teammates finish up this drill.
You could even start this drill over in another area of the floor so kids who get knocked out can keep at it.
Coaching pointers: This drill puts a premium on being able to dribble without looking and with either hand. Encourage your kids to use their nondominant hands when possible so they can better skirt trouble and maintain possession of the ball.
To upgrade the difficulty level, you can break the team into threesomes and have two defensive players going for a steal.