Coaches must follow a general working plan with all players on their team, which respects the individuality of each player, making demands according to their characteristics, and helping each of them to develop their own talents.

Some general considerations in relation to the age of players must also be kept in mind.

Under 12 Players

At this age, perfecting basketball fundamentals is not the most important aspect. It is enough for the players to know the most basic skills and to start to develop them. Making practice fun so that the players want to practice is the most important consideration.

The players should be introduced to good techniques for the basic skills. Bad habits (e.g. only using their preferred hand, shooting off balance) should be discouraged.

It is important, though, that coaches allow players to explore how to perform a skill rather than dictating specifically how it must be done. For example, asking players to shoot with a “high arc” because it increases the chances of going in and then allowing them to explore how to do that.

The coach’s role is to guide the player’s exploration of how to perform the skill, making changes only when necessary. It is also important that players accept responsibility for their part of being on a team. They have made a commitment to be on the team and accordingly should come to training, should train hard and should not disrupt the training. The role of being a player on a team is an important lesson at this age group. It is not about whether they are a “guard” or a “centre” because all players should play all positions. However, being a good team member is also a skill that can be learnt.

Players need to develop confidence that they can perform the skills which are needed when playing the game. They must develop the initiative of using basketball fundamentals even if they make mistakes. And they should have a reasonable number of positive experiences that will make them want to keep on playing.

Daily fun and the personal initiative of players are very important aspects to take into account when coaching mini-basketball.


A coach of players aged between 13 and 14 must realise that even if some of the players appear to be physically bigger, they are still young teenagers. At this age they are going through a stage of great emotional vulnerability in which they need to vindicate themselves (for example: they would be inclined to abandon the game if they feel like they are not in control).

Furthermore, many of these players are getting used to playing basketball, which might make them feel insecure and less competent than in previous years.

Coaches should treat each child as an individual, like a “tailor” who is sewing “tailor-made” suits.

It is also likely that teams will include players who have been playing for a number of years as well as players who are just starting. This can affect both the confidence of the less experienced (as they see other players able to do things and feel that they have “failed” because they can’t) and the interest level of the more experienced, who may not be adequately challenged playing against significantly less skilled team mates.

Coaches of these players must help the less skilled players to adapt themselves progressively to this higher level of requirements. Coaches must go into more depth concerning the development of technical fundamentals and individual tactical decisions (the decisions taken on the 1x1, 2x2, 3x3, etc.).

However, they should try not to go too fast, because the players need to assimilate what they are learning, and they need to feel safe obtaining the reward of being in control.

At the same time, the coach needs to ensure that the more skilled players are also being challenged, which is important to keep them interested.

One way to do this is to place different demands upon players in an activity. For example, less experienced players may be able to dribble and pass with whichever hand they want but more experienced players must use their non-preferred hand. At these ages, it is important not to limit the players. On the contrary, coaches should improve the possibility of obtaining better results in the future by allowing players to do any kind of task (for example: they should all be able to fast break in any position). All players need to be introduced to perimeter and post skills.

The players will probably make many mistakes while they are still learning. The coach must try to combine working on areas of weakness with giving the players the opportunity to perform skills and techniques that they are already proficient at, to ensure that they can get some satisfaction out of it.

The players will probably make many mistakes while they are still learning. The coach must try to combine working on areas of weakness with giving the players the opportunity to perform skills and techniques that they are already proficient at, to ensure that they can get some satisfaction out of it.

It can be particularly effective for the coach to define “success” not just by scoring points, but by using the right process. Indeed, many activities can be used where there is no shooting. For example, passing games, where the objective is to reach a certain number of passes, get the ball to a certain position on the court or have all players touch the ball a certain number of times.


When working with teams of 15-16-year- olds coaches should maintain an overall perspective of the formative process of the players, but they should measure with a greater detail the particular needs of each player: what are they missing? What aspects should we work on to improve their resources?

Using Different Coaching Styles

Within a team there will be many different personalities and the coach must work with each of them, striving to get the best outcome for each of them. This means:

“Employing a variety of coaching approaches is important because different types of content requires different approaches to instruction... In deciding what approach to adopt the coach should consider the intended learning outcomes of the training session or part of a session”.

Dr Cliff Mallet, How do you coach?, Sports Coach (ASC), Vol 28, Number 2