How to Coach a Youth Basketball Team

A youth basketball coach arguably has one of the most exciting and rewarding jobs in the world. He’s required to teach kids habits that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. He’s seen as a role model who teaches youths lessons about life, and he’s responsible for teaching teens the right things.

There are several keys to becoming a great youth basketball coach. As a basketball coach, you need to have a vast array of ideas that focus on making the entire experience as positive as possible. Here’s how to coach a youth basketball team:

Teach the Fundamentals of Basketball

The fundamentals make the foundation of every player. The defensive and offensive strategies along with other moves your players make depend on these crucial fundamentals. Focus on the core elements as the priority when coaching youth basketball, and take at least 75 per cent of every practice on them.

The fundamentals involve addressing the first things kids learn in order to play basketball, and making sure they are doing them correctly. When kids learn the fundamentals correctly before moving on to more advanced skills, it reduces the risk they will develop bad habits that will haunt them throughout their careers.

For instance, your kids will become better in shooting if you focus on the fundamentals of shooting—which include leg bend, proper foot alignment, arm angle, hand position, and so forth. These seemingly little things make a remarkable difference. If you need a refresher on the fundamentals, you can visit the basketball section of Piranha Fitness.

The same case applies to footwork, lays ups, jab steps, passing, blocking out, pivoting, and post plays among others. For youth players, coaches need to focus on teaching the appropriate techniques and fundamentals for the following:

  • Shooting
  • Layups
  • Passing
  • Foul shooting
  • Ball handling and dribbling
  • Jump training (exercise videos)
  • Jab steps
  • Triple threat position and pivoting
  • Defense
  • Rebounding
  • Basic cutting and screening
  • Basic post moves

These critical fundamentals make you and your team better regardless of the age level and situation.

Emphasize coaching—not refereeing

Every time you spend quarreling with the referees is a time you’re not coaching. Do not spend time arguing with referees as it makes your players believe that losses can be blamed on others. Referees do what they do as a means to connect to the game—give them ample time to enjoy whatever they do.

Learn the names of the referees so that you can have good interactions with them. It’s rather effective to communicate with an official name than calling them “Ref.” Using their name proves handy in reminding you that a referee is an actual person, not just a “ref.”

Practice Sportsmanship

Basic courtesy and good manners are essential to sportsmanship. Use your games and practices to strengthen these principles. Ensure that you teach your players to give a firm handshake while maintaining an eye contact whenever they’re greeting the officials and opposing coaches. Let them learn to give a high five when dealing with opposing players.

Instill a Positive Attitude

A positive attitude brings remarkable performance. Life isn’t fair, and basketball is probably worse. Teach your players how to get over it and still be able to do whatever they have to do to succeed. Playing sports remains one of the best approaches to practice to overcome adversity and prepare to deal with hard-hitting times in life. Include some humor as it helps.


The way you interact with your fellow coaches and officials will naturally influence the behavior of all your players. Pay respect, and you’re sure to get it back from those concerned. Remember that, as a coach you also act as a role model. People look up to you.

Advise your players to be respectful of each other. Additionally, let them respect their coaches, opponents, and other officials, just the way you do. Enforce your specific rules with each player as well as the parent involved in the team.


Teach your youth basketball team that cooperation is essential in team sports competition. Encourage each member to be selfless and supportive in both winning and losing efforts.

Have a lot of fun

Finally, make sure you have unlimited fun because you’re doing what you love to do. Coaching is your career, so have fun while you still have the time and ability. Be an example, and teach the youngsters that basketball is all about fun. Do not be that kind of coach who sucks all the fun out of the game. That’s a big NO NO!!

Here’s Bob Bigelow on coaching youth basketball:

Your young players find it a lot difficult if you’re deadly serious while coaching. Conversely, if you choose to have fun as you coach, your players will have a good time too. Coach as if you love doing it, and always stay active.