Teaching Progression of 1-On-1 Skills, Part I

A couple of months ago, I asked coaches from around the world what they’d most like to know in teaching the individual youth basketball game. The last couple of articles have been answers to some of those questions. This month’s article continues, as part of a 2-part series, about teaching 1-on-1 progression.

Wim C., from Belgium asked about how to teach youngsters progression in 1-on-1 skills.

When people think of 1-on-1 they usually think of an offensive player with the ball vs. a defender. Really, there are two situations to teach-- on the ball and off the ball. This article will only deal with on the ball progression.

Since there are more components in teaching offensive skills than in teaching defensive skills, I will begin with the offensive side of the 1-on-1 equation and cover the defensive part next month.

In teaching offensive skills to very young players (6-10 years old), we have to be careful that we teach by learning plateaus, so each player can get the requisite skills before building on these with another level of learning. Each skill must be taught through explanation, demonstration and much practical drill application. Each player must be critiqued and corrected at each level before moving on. Incorrect learning at a lower level will only compound itself with each ensuing level. My motto is—“get it right from the start”.

So, the plateaus I teach follow the sequence I have outlined in the chapters of my 4-hour instructional DVD/streaming video (http://www.top-basketball-coaching.com/dvd.html) and my teaching book (http://www.top-basketball-coaching.com/B-O-A-T), both named, Basketball On A Triangle: A Higher Level of Coaching and Playing. These are:

· Explaining the game (E-book: http://www.top-basketball-coaching.com/explainingthegame.html
Video: https://freeiq.com/explainingthegame )

· Balance and control (E-book: http://www.top-basketball-coaching.com/teachingbalanceandcontrol.html
Video: https://freeiq.com/teachingbalanceandcontrol )

· Dribbling (E-book: http://www.top-basketball-coaching.com/teachingbasketballdribbling.html
Video: https://freeiq.com/teachingdribblingvideo )

· Defensive stance and slides (E-book: http://www.top-basketball-coaching.com/teachingindividualdefense
Video: https://freeiq.com/teachingindividualdefense )

· Defense on the ball (Same as above.)

Since all of these topics consume several hundred pages of material and several hours of DVD/streaming video, I can’t spend that kind of time in an article. What I can do here is to define and give some guidelines for teaching in each area and to direct you to where you can get more in-depth teaching information for each topic.

  1. Explain the game to the beginners. Take them around the court—show them the lines, tell them what they are for, etc. Introduce the game by showing where and how it is played. Talk about some of the rules.
  1. Without balance and control the game will be chaos. You can’t have one without the other. It’s all about stance and how to move effectively without tripping over one’s own feet. Beginning with the universal sport, “ready stance”, progress to controlled movement like running from the end line and coming to a stop in 2 strides, without falling over or continuing movement. Start by doing each drill without speed involved. (Only allow each player to ultimately go as fast as they can remain under good control of their body.) Quickness and control are more important than speed. Teach them how to zig-zag up the court without crossing over their feet. Everything is done with open stance, never crossing over the feet. Stutter step and stop-and-go help them develop balance and rhythm change to be able to keep a defender off balance. When all these have been taught and practiced up and down the floor, in their individual components, now put them together in a complete drill they can practice daily. I call this a Balance and Control Sequence Drill, having every component we just learned in one drill. The entire Balance and Control Sequence Drill is covered in my e-book on balance and control and in the DVD/video chapter on the same subject. Below is from the book:
We drill each part separately until it’s learned. Then, we take all the
parts and put them together in our balance and control sequence drill. This
uses the full length of the floor, up and back, performing each move for a full
length. Before you begin the full sequence, have each player complete a length
doing a move; critique all the players; send them back doing the same move, if
necessary. Have them do the next move the same way, until all the moves can
be done successfully for a full length of the floor. Then have them do all the
moves, one after the other, without stopping. For beginners, this should be done
  1. Dribbling in the beginning can be very challenging for a youngster. (See my DVD/video or read the e-book on teaching dribbling.) Coaches must take the time to teach how to dribble without slapping at the ball, without looking at the ball and to learn to use either hand. My January 2007 article, Dribbling Drills, covers this and gives some drills to use in teaching. If a child can’t dribble under control, being able to protect the ball, they will have a tough time once you add a defender to the equation. Once the basics of dribbling have been learned, move the players into a sequence drill. Using the Balance and Control Sequence Drill taught earlier, now have players use a ball to perform each skill, learning to alternate hands—stop and go, stutter-step, cross-over, zig-zag, reverse dribble, etc. The entire Dribble Sequence Drill is covered in my e-book on dribbling and in the DVD/video chapter on dribbling.

Next month, I will take what we’ve done through the Dribble Sequence Drill and show you how to add the defense, finally completing the on the ball 1-on-1 teaching progression.