Even toddlers can begin developing basketball skills with simple drills.

Basketball Drills for Toddlers

by Nathan Fisher

As every toddler tends to think of every ball as “his,” one of the more difficult concepts for toddlers to grasp is the concept of team sports, such as basketball. When conducting basketball drills for toddlers, it is in your best interest to employ drills that will allow each toddler to play with the ball as much as possible.

1. Passing

As you have probably figured out, toddlers aren’t particularly keen on sharing their ball with others. To get your little superstars to accept the idea that they have to share the ball, start with a simple passing drill that amounts to playing catch. Have your players stand in pairs, 3 feet apart; if you are working with just your own toddler, then you will be his passing partner. Take a knee, to get down on the toddler's level, and say, “We pass the ball by pushing it away from our chest” while demonstrating the technique. Bear in mind that, by definition, toddlers are still learning to walk and their motor skills are nowhere near completely developed. To avoid fat lips, bruised egos and nasty looks from other parents, use a sponge-style basketball for drills where you are encouraging awkward tiny tots to throw the ball at each other. You will be considered a sage in the toddler-coaching community!

2. Dribbling

Not to be confused with milk running down his shirt, dribbling drills will help your mini hoopster learn how to bounce the ball while walking or running around the court. Give each toddler a tot-sized basketball, which will bounce of course, and have each toddler practice bouncing the ball in front of their feet. Just remember, this is not the NBA, so let your toddlers use both hands to bounce the ball -- and shame on you if you even think about trying to teach a toddler how to dribble the ball without looking at it.

3. Shooting

If you expect your toddlers to stay more interested in the game than the caterpillar crawling across the payment, you have to make the most enjoyable part of the game, scoring baskets, easy. At their young age, toddlers' hand-eye coordination is just slightly more sophisticated than yours while you are wearing a blindfold, so encourage your wee ones with a specialized toddler-sized basketball goal with an oversized hoop. Have your tiny team line up and have each toddler take turns shooting the ball. Keep the shooting line close enough to the hoop so even the weakest toddler can reach the basket with the ball.

4. Rebounding

Trying to catch a ball while jumping in the air may not seem overly difficult to you, but for little guys and gals still trying to figure out how to climb stairs, rebounding a basketball is far from child’s play. As arms and elbows will be flying like windmills, practice rebounding drills in groups of three toddlers. Have one toddler shoot the ball with two others standing on opposite sides of the basket catching the ball as it falls off the hoop. Have the toddler who comes down with the ball switch places with the shooter. Begin practicing rebounding with your toddlers catching the ball flat-footed as the ball comes off the goal and progress to having your tykes jump off the ground to get the rebounds as their skills improve. Use the sponge ball for rebounding drills, at least until your pint-sized prodigies can keep from turning their heads and scrunching up their faces when the basketball comes hurling toward them.

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