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How to Introduce Spacing to Youth Basketball Players

If you’ve ever coached young basketball players, you’ve probably noticed that they tend to group together and chase the ball. This behaviour can make it difficult for your team to move the ball effectively and score points. One solution to this problem is to introduce spacing to your players. Here are some tips on how to do that effectively:

Before you introduce spacing to your players, it’s essential to explain the concept to them. You can do this by showing them videos of professional basketball teams playing and pointing out how they space the floor. Explain that spacing means giving each other enough room to move around and make plays. I like the video approach, I generally don’t talk about my own experiences coaching basketball as this site/blog/the PDFs are about my experience in Spain, but I will say that I used to discuss basketball videos with my young players in the U.K. and there were a lot of benefits. For example, the Jordan Rules video on YouTube helped, as well as discussing following through on your shot “check out this player, he always follows through”. The videos can give weight to what you say.

Play Simple Basketball Games

To help your players understand spacing, you can incorporate it into simple basketball games. A basic game could encourage the players to “Spread Out.” Talk to players about not being in the same spots as each other. It’s a tough sell to young players to be in the corner spot away from the ball as they might not see it! One way we coped with this in Spain is put in half court spacing towards the end of the season and emphasise fast breaks. Spacing with the U10 team meant being in a lane when running up the court and recognising that we need to switch lanes if it was busy.

You will see in your U10 PDFs that fastbreak a dominate the first half of the season. Another idea you can add if you want to help half court spacing is a passing based  drill. For example, players must pass the ball to their teammates while maintaining proper spacing. This game can help players understand the importance of spacing when making plays. You will see a great example in the PDFS around the idea of “every player is in a big bubble, if you get to close the bubble will pop”. This was a great idea that stuck in the players heads…but as you know, the vast majority of drills were one and done, never to be seen again.

Use Visual Aids

Visual aids can be helpful when introducing spacing to young basketball players. You can draw diagrams of different spacing concepts and explain how they work. You can also use cones or other objects to mark off areas of the court where players should be positioned. I’m a fan of those rubber spots but I have also put tape on the floor to help. Love it!

Practice, Practice, Practice

Introducing spacing to your players is just the first step. To truly make it a habit, your players need to practice it consistently. Make sure to reinforce the importance of spacing during practice and encourage your players to use it during games. To help this, you need to praise when you see it done well, but how???

Reward Good Spacing

Finally, it’s essential to reward good spacing. When your players demonstrate good spacing during a game or practice, acknowledge it and praise them for their efforts. This positive reinforcement can help encourage good habits and motivate your players to continue using spacing in the future. Pause your games, highlight what you are happy with, replay “she passed here, then cut to here, this allowed the space for this to happen, well done, this is what we are looking for”.

In conclusion, introducing spacing to young basketball players can be challenging, but it’s an essential skill that can help your team move the ball effectively and score more points. By explaining the concept of spacing, playing simple basketball games, using visual aids, practicing consistently, and rewarding good spacing, you can help your players understand the importance of spacing and apply it in their game. So, try out these tips, and watch your team’s performance improve!

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