Third Grade Girls Basketball Drills
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In a KidsHealth survey, 60 percent of the respondents listed "giving everyone a chance to play" as the top indicator of a good coach, followed by "teaching new skills." Drills provide coaches with a way to involve all of the players while teaching new skills in a fun way. Young girls need the opportunity to explore sport in order to gain confidence for future competition. According to the Women's Sports Foundation, if a girl doesn't play sports by the time she reaches 10 years old, there's only a 10 percent chance she will play when she reaches 25.
Dribbling drills hone hand-eye coordination, provide a necessary sport-specific skill and do not require much strength. Line the girls up along the baseline, each with a basketball. Provide them with basic instruction on dribbling and have them practice dribbling with the right hand, then the left hand. When they seem to feel comfortable, start playing Follow the Leader. Standing in front of them as the leader, you will start dribbling with your right hand and they will follow suit. Every few seconds, change the drill or add something to the mix without verbally instructing the girls that something has changed. You could switch hands, hold up a finger or turn around. The first player to follow suit will get a point. Continue playing for five to 10 minutes, encouraging the girls to get comfortable with dribbling skills while also practicing looking up and watching for a change. The girl with the most points at the end of the drill wins.
Many third graders won't have the arm strength yet to pass the basketball over long distances. Rather than concentrating on distance, concentrate on form. Pair the girls up and position them, each pair with one ball, approximately 10 feet apart from each other. Instruct them on the proper mechanics of a chest pass and a bounce pass, having them practice each for several minutes. As they get the hang of the pass, tell them you will cycle through each group to play keep-away with them. Start with the first group and play "dummy" defense between the two players. Encourage the player who receives the ball to move around to get open and encourage the passer to switch up the chest pass or the bounce pass based on how you guard them. Only steal the ball if the pass comes directly to you. When you steal a pass move on to the next group. As you move through the first three groups, start splitting up the pairs, assigning them to groups of three to continue the drill together.
Some third grade girls will have the strength required to shoot the basketball on a regulation-height goal, while others will not. Clearly state this at the beginning of practice and emphasize that you want them to learn technique and form regardless of whether or not they can make a shot. Situate the girls in pairs with a single ball, and stand them approximately 5 feet from each other. Instruct them on proper shooting form and have the girls practice "shooting" to one another. When the girls seem comfortable, set up cones in the center of the basketball key and on each block of the main basketball goals, splitting the girls up into two groups. Instruct the girls to form a line and to rotate through each location, shooting each shot once before the next girl starts.
Laura Williams has worked in recreation management since 2004. She holds a master's degree in exercise and sport science education from Texas State University, as well as a B.A. in exercise and sport science from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.