best games to teach kids how to play basketball

The 7 Best Drills to Teach Kids How to Play Basketball

Looking for some drills to teach basketball? Here are the 7 best drills to teach kids how to play basketball and more importantly, the fundamentals of the game.

Over the past few months, my nephew has been asking me to take him to play basketball.

I was putting it off because, honestly, I was lazy. But recently, I decided to take him.

The day prior, I asked him if he wanted me to just take him to the gym or if he wanted me to teach him how to play.

He said “both.”

“Okay, we can do that,” I responded

But now, I’m hit with a problem. How can I teach him?

Do I just play one-on-one games with him? Do I let him shoot around for a couple of hours?

What can he do to learn the fundamentals of basketball?

I considered making him do the drills that I did when I was on my middle school’s basketball team.

But I didn’t want to be one those hardcore “coach” parents.

The first reason why was that he’s not my kid, so that would just be weird. The second reason was that I didn’t want to be like those people.

However, those drills were really helpful to me. They taught me the fundamentals and without them, I’d probably still only be able to drive down the right lane.

I pondered it and elected to run those games and drills with him. But I changed it up a bit to make them more fun.

The first time day went well. Really well, actually.

He was up to the challenge and did everything I told him to do. I thought I was going too hard on him at first.

But after, as we were driving home, I asked him if it was okay and he said yes.

The next few times we went, I would incrementally make the workouts more difficult.

I made him work a little harder each time. I also increased the intensity each time we played a game. And he was fine with it.

We haven’t played that many times, so he hasn’t shown much improvement yet. However, I have noticed that he is more strategic when we play one-on-one.

The 7 Basketball Drills for Improving Fundamentals

So here are 7 games and drills that I used to teach him the fundamentals:

The Basic Lane Dribble Warm-Up

This is the standard warm-up drill that everyone teaches.

All you do is dribble with your dominant hand from one end of the gym to the other. On your return, you dribble with the opposite hand. Do this twice.

Additionally, I like to add in one set of crossovers.

When doing this, make sure your kid’s body is low and that their dribbling is controlled.

Remind them to lower it if you notice them standing upright.

Lane Jogs

Lane jogs are great because they warm you up as well as develop footwork.

First, start with jogging normally up the lane. Then on your return, jog backwards.

Once you reach your starting point, jog laterally (lateral slides) up and back. Then, you’re going to do crossover jogs up and down the court.

The video above shows a crossover run.

The mechanics of what you want your kid to do is the same, but instead of running, have them jog.

If your kid doesn’t have the stamina to do the entire gym yet, jogging up to the half-court line is fine too.

And like before, make sure they are low to the ground. They’ll have more control over their body if they do so.

Do this drill once.


Playing Around-the-World is great for improving shot mechanics. It’s also a great game because your kid can do it solo.

While he is working on his shot, you can go off and do whatever you like.

You can shoot around or lie down on the bench and take a nap because you really didn’t want to take your nephew to play basketball that early in the morning.

But you had to because you were forced to by his mom.

But I digress.

Jokes aside, when your kid is doing this drill, make sure that he is shooting the ball properly.

Make sure that his knees are bent, the hand placements are correct, and that he’s shooting with his wrist and not his arms (and in some cases, his entire body).

Have your child do this drill once (so the entire course).

Layup Lines

This is also a standard warmup.

Have your kid stand on the right corner of the free-throw line. From here, she will drive down the lane and do a layup.

Do this 10 times and switch over to the left corner.

On this lane, have your kid dribble down the lane with her left hand and lay it in with that hand too. For most kids, I think this will be difficult.

So make her do it 12 times so that she can get comfortable with it.

If your kid is left-handed, switch this drill around.

Once she is comfortable with this drill, up the difficulty and have her do the Ladder Layup Drill. You can click here to learn what it is.

The Mikan Drill

Kids hate this drill because it’s tedious.

But this drill is actually really good for getting a feel for how to shoot the ball up close. You can click here to learn how to do it.

But for this drill, have your kid make 10 shots.

You can also change it up a bit and let your kid shoot close-range shots rather than making them lay it in.

2-on-1 (but really just 2 on none)

Have you ever heard of this drill? This was one of my favourite drills to do when I was in middle school. Basically, the 2-on-1 is a fast break drill.

There will be two players on offense and one on defense.

The offence will start at one end of the court (or at half-court) and one of the players will have the ball.

On the other end will be the defender.

The offence will run down the court and try to score as quickly as possible. The defender has to prevent the shot from going in.

Ideally, the offence will make at least one pass during this transition, but it’s not necessary.

However, since you’re probably doing this drill with one kid (like I did), you’ll be going 2-on-none.

Rather than just sprinting up and down the court making layups against air, I turned this drill into a passing one.

I would start by taking the ball up the court and then at around halfway, pass the ball.

My nephew catches it, waits, and when I’m near the three-point line, he would pass it back to me and I would go in for a layup.

After 5 runs, we would switch positions. We’ll normally do this drill once.

This drill is great for figuring out when and where to pass the ball and how to catch it.

It’s also a good drill for practising the layup.

King of the Court

The final game that we do before heading out for some healthy fried chicken or hamburgers is King of the Court (click here to learn how to play).

You can also just play a one-on-one game if you like. My nephew just prefers this one.

Playing a competitive game like this is good because it forces your kid to react as if he is in an actual game.

He’ll have to decide quickly what he’s going to do to score or to stop the basket. He’ll have to put everything he has learned into action.

It’s also healthy competition.

However, if your kid is pretty new to basketball, take it easy on him.

Don’t let him score uncontested, but also don’t pull a Dikembe Mutombo and swat all of his shots. And when you’re on offence, don’t Jordan him.

Make him defend you, obviously, but don’t dominate him.

I normally just bust out my old man game and make my nephew defend that.

Final Thoughts

These are 7 basketball drills that will teach the fundamentals of basketball.

It works on everything, from footwork to shooting to defense.

Are these games you would use to teach basketball? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Additionally, If you’re an average Joe who wants to learn the fundamentals of basketball, these games and drills will work for you too.


P.S. If you (or someone you know) are struggling to get better at basketball, you may be doing something wrong.

This is why you need to check out my Old Man Game Activity Guides and Planners. They’re convenient training systems that will help you work on your fundamentals and conditioning.

Click here to learn more about them.