Coaching Youth Basketball: Teaching Progression Skills For 1-on-1, Part 2

Teaching one-on-one skills to young basketball players requires time and patience. If the ball is introduced too soon, too much focus will be on the ball. If defense is introduced to play on the dribbler too early, the dribbler will probably not be able to control the ball. The child must master balance and body control and be able to move well without the ball. When the ball is introduced, a lot of time must be spent on learning how to dribble and particularly, how to dribble under control. Defense, without even understanding the rudiments of stance, sliding, position on the ball, etc., will almost always prevail.

My article in February, 2008, Teaching Progression Skills For 1-on-1, Part 1 (, spoke to the teaching of offensive basics for balance, control, ball handling and dribbling. If the youngsters are ready, now the defensive side of the 1-on-1 equation can be introduced.

Just as with offensive skills, the defensive skills must be taught from the most basic—meaning stance, balance and movement—before introducing a dribbler into the mix. A player must understand the role of the defender as being one of containment first, learning to play between the ball and the basket, without thinking about stopping the dribbler or taking away the ball.

For both the sake of the offensive player’s newly learned dribbling skills and the defender’s newly learned defensive skills, it should be a while before the teaching-coach allows game-speed action. Let the players learn their skills and hone their skills under control and with the teaching-coach’s direction. There will be the rest of their playing careers to go at it live 1-on-1. Allow each player the opportunity to grow their skill development and understanding of the game. Be patient, coaches!

I have addressed the teaching of individual defense, starting with stance, sliding and position between the ball and the basket. My article, Why Teach Man Defense, November, 2007 (
whyteachmanD), addresses the coach’s understanding of what needs to come first in the defensive teaching process. I covered the complete sequence of teaching individual defense in my articles, Teaching Individual Defense, Parts I and II, ( September_2006.html and

The above articles about defense basically brought the defensive player up to the point of playing against a dribbler. After lots of dribbling drills and controlled dribbling vs. defense drills, the teaching-coach can begin to now introduce a little more aggressive play where pressure is put on the dribbler in an attempt to direct the dribbler where the defender wants the ball to go. This presupposes that the skill levels of the dribbler and defender are capable of this kind of drill. I address this in my November, 2006, article, Defending The Dribble Entry, (http://www.

All of these skills--offensive and defensive--have hours devoted to them in my books (, DVD and Video downloads ( Everything I have devoted my resources to has been to have the coach become a teaching-coach of the individual skills of the game. It does no good to attempt to jump into playing the 5-on-5 game without the successful execution of individual skills requisite for playing 1-on-1, then 2-on2, etc.