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Basketball Drills for Toddlers

by Darlene Peer

You may want that potential NBA star to practice and drill, but, unless you make it fun, he may be resisting. Sometimes combining well-known games with your drills can help your toddler understand and participate. Many toddlers are starting to assert their independence and may resist drilling and practice. Turn it into a game, and you'll have an enthusiastic player on your hands. But be patient; honing motor skills takes time and work.

Dribbling

Teach your tot the basics of dribbling a ball with fun games. Dribble tag combines dribbling and a high-energy game of tag. After teaching your toddler about dribbling, have her try to catch and tag you while dribbling. If she's older, you can add rules about not traveling or double-dribbling, but, when first starting out, focus on getting her dribbling and running. Use a designated area, like a driveway or a quarter of a basketball court, since young legs can't run far for long. "Red Light, Green Light" is another game that can be adapted for dribbling drills. Turn your back and ask your tot to dribble the ball. When you say "green light," she should should come toward you dribbling. When you say "red light," she should stop but still dribble. This drill teaches about controlling the ball.

Free Throws

When you're trying to teach a toddler about making the perfect shot, it's important to place the basket within reach. You'll want something that's high enough to be a challenge but not high enough to be discouraging. Next, establish a free throw line that's reasonable for how far your toddler can throw a ball. Use tape to mark it on the ground. A good free throw drill is "Golf." The child with the lowest score wins. Line up your young players and have the first child make a shot. If it goes in, he gets a point. If it bounces out, he has to chase the rebound and make another shot from where he catches it. If a tot misses three shots, let him stand at the back of the line as the next player tries. The lowest score wins. The key to making this drill successful is to keep up the encouragement. Remind your toddlers that they will get better with practice and cheer for any shots they sink.

Passing the Ball

The "Passing Line Relay" game works best if you can alternate your line as toddler, adult, toddler, adult, etc. Since every second player will have more control, it can stop the game from devolving into a chaotic scene of balls rolling away. Line your players up 3 or 4 feet apart. The first player bounces the ball to the next player, who must pivot in place and pass the ball to the next player. Pass the ball like this along the line and then pass it back along. Move players around so the kids at the end have a turn to pivot as well. This game helps with passing and pivoting skills. For a little variety, the game can also be used to practice chest passes and two-handed overhead passes when your players are ready.

Blocking

Blocking drills can be a lot of fun for toddlers, but monitor the game carefully to ensure that it doesn't turn into roughhousing. "Circle Block Out" helps your toddler learn about blocking out rebounds by the other team. You'll need two toddlers who are approximately the same size and ability level. Place the ball inside of a circle. The first toddler should be outside of the circle and is tasked with touching the ball. The second toddler will be inside of the circle, facing the other child, and must block the first child. Use a whistle or bell to start the game so both players begin at the same time. Start drilling for 10 seconds and gradually lengthen the amount of time for each drill. Show the tots how to keep their arms bent at the elbows and out while bending their knees for added balance.

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