Teaching Youth Basketball: Using The Other Hand

By: Ronn Wyckoff

Inteaching dribbling, the primary concern of the coach will be to make sure that whenevera player is dribbling, anywhere on the floor, that the dribbler has his/herbody between the ball and the defender. This will require dribbling with theleft hand when moving to the dribbler’s left and dribbling with the right handwhen moving to the dribbler’s right.

Afterwe’ve spent the time needed to be sure every kid can dribble with either hand,hopefully without looking directly at the ball, then we begin to have them movearound the floor with the ball, switching hands.? To begin learning the concept of dribblingwith the hand away from a defender, walk the kids through chairs or cones,having them dribble with the hand away from the chair or cone.

Whenit comes time to begin teaching shooting, Ithink most coaches will agree that we start shooting by teaching the lay-up/lay-in.? The lay-up is themost basic shot in basketball. For the non-dunking individual, it’s thehighest percentage shot we can get.

?For the beginner, eventhis seemingly simple shot can initially be daunting.? This may be the first time a youngster has had to think aboutcoordinating a hand with the opposite foot.? It’s notunlike a child throwing a ball with the same foot forward as the hand they throw with.?Not effective.? Same thing withthe lay-in—opposite hand, opposite foot or the shot process will be clumsy.? So, I have a simple technique to get kids started thinking about this hand/footrelationship without having to dribble.???

First, have the players stand and go through themotion of shooting without the ball using the dominant hand whilestanding on the opposite foot and raising the shooting side foot off the floor.? Do thisseveral times.? Now have them start on the shooting side foot, step onto the oppositefoot and lift into the air while going through with the shooting motion.? Again, do this several times.

I now stand infront of the basket holding the ball out so the shooter can take it from my hand in order to shoot with the dominant hand. If it is the right hand, the shooter musttake the ball out of my hand and go off their left foot, then shoot it off thebackboard, hopefully into the basket.?At first, I have them start on the right foot, step left and take theball as they leave the floor.? The leftside will go off the right foot and use the same procedure. ?After they have some success with this, then Iallow several steps and still have them take it from my hand.? When I feel they have made the connectionwell enough between the hand and foot, I let them dribble in and shoot.? The next stage will be to allow them todribble to each basket in the gym and shoot the lay-up.?

Asplayers progress in their skills they will need to be taught to understand thatthey should be able to shoot lay-ups effectively withboth the right and left hand. If driving to the basket on the left side of thefloor, shooting a lay-up using the right hand is likely to get the shot blocked.

In an actual game,rarely will a player have the opportunity to lazily run to the basket and shootan uncontested lay-up. Most lay-ups are shot while fast breaking with adefender on the dribbler’s hip harassing the dribble all the way to the basket.If lay-ups are practiced nonchalantly then in a game type situation players aremore likely to miss the lay-up because they might jump off the wrong foot, orshoot the lay-up too hard because their timing is off. It's not logical at allfor a player to make even the simplest of shots in a game if they are notpracticing the shots the same way they would shoot them in a game. Make sure yourplayers are using correct technique and that they are moving at game speed whenshooting lay-ups in practice and during pre-game warm-ups.

Later, playerswill find that if they try to shoot the same type of lay-up in every situation theywill lack the advantage. It's important to be able to shoot different types oflay-ups and finishing moves at the basket, with either handFeature Articles, so that they willbe harder to defend in certain situations. These will come with playingexperience and a coach’s ability to teach as the players move up in age-groups.

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