Youth Basketball Drills: 4 Ways to Motivate Young Players

Motivating young players is often frustrating and time consuming, especially if the coach/parent was once an athlete themselves. It's only natural to want the best for youth players, but when it seems they don't want that for themselves, what do you do?

Some parents and coaches find it very difficult to motivate youth basketball players and often resort to negative motivation. Learning how to effectively motivate players is crucial when working with young basketball drills.


1. Always remain positive and supportive

The first thing parents and coaches can do is build up a player's self-esteem. This is extremely important because this will be the foundation a player will fall back on during tough times. When a youth basketball player doesn't believe they are good enough, they will quit or shy away from competition when it's presented. Feeling positive success, even minimally, is something that a young player will strive to achieve. Negative comparisons of how an adult competed or excelled at a younger age will deter youth players, since it's a uphill battle that can never be conquered. Coaches/parents must continue to compliment and take notice of even the smallest basketball milestones reached. Doing this will motivate kids to work harder and will build a positive relationship with the player.  

2. Create youth basketball drills that are fun and promote competition

Competition is an essential part of life and learning to master it will come in handy as a child gets older. Sometimes young players associate competition with failure and negativity. It's very important for coaches to intertwine competition around hard work and having fun. For example, ball handling drills can be very draining and frustrating for many youth basketball players, but a necessity for a player to become successful. Dribble knockout is a competitive game in which boundary lines are created and players try to knock teammate's balls out of the bounds. While this is happening, players must maintain their own dribble without traveling or double dribbling. When players get out, they stand along the boundary line and and try to knock other player's balls out of bounds. As more players get out, the boundary lines change and decrease the amount of space to dribble. This is a competitive game that helps with skill development and the kids will have a blast. 

3. Highlight skills the player excels at, rather then focusing only on the weak ones

It's only natural to focus at working on the weaknesses of a player, since the goal is to become a better all-around athlete. The problem with this is, continued added stress will cause a young player to shut down and lose confidence in the strengths they have. When a youth basketball player splits time between working on strengths and weaknesses, they will build confidence in themselves which will counter the negative thoughts that may creep in when working on weaknesses. Try to highlight the small advances a young player makes, so that they know they are on the right track and that their hard work is paying off.


4. Make sure the kids are having fun at the end of the day 

The most important thing to remember is that competitive sports are not life and death situations. These kids are not professional athletes and this is not their job. At the end of the day kids join basketball and sports in general to have fun and meet new friends. If these options are not available, then kids won't want to be involved and there is zero chance they will be motivated to become better. Giving kids the chance to make their own teams or practice a drill they like, will allow their voices to be heard. This will strengthen the the bond between player and coach.

Utilizing these 4 motivational ideas with youth basketball drills will help lead to success now and in the future. Players will also be dialed in, ready to work, and willing to learn. Coaches/parents: Continue to promote positivity, hard work and having fun!


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