In education there are standardized proficiency testing for Math and Reading and for strength training baseline testing is done to later obtain comparison measures and determine effectiveness of teaching or training. However, in basketball, youth coaches typically do not take the time to obtain baseline skill measures, a report card for basketball, or have clear expectations of what should be accomplished at certain age ranges. By doing a report card of skill development you are telling your players and their parents that this skill development thing is important and you as a coach care about their improvement in this area. Peter Drucker, the legendary management consultant, said what gets measured gets improved. We break down this skill development and testing into three age phases, five through eight years old, nine through twelve years old, and twelve through fourteen years old.
We are now going to get technical and nerd out on skill development for the next few paragraphs so bear with us. For ages five through eight years old there are six key skills we are trying to accomplish: being in the triple threat position, jump stop and pivoting, proper stationary dribbling technique right and left hands, jogging while dribbling the ball with right and left hands with head up, very basic shooting mechanics not at a rim, and proper passing technique for bounce and chest passes. On our Members Page there are age specific drills and games with bullet point teaching techniques to address all six of these skills. For standardized skill testing for this stage of development we recommend four different tests which are: 1. Demonstration of a jump stop to triple threat position, pivot, then throw a proper pass without traveling to a parent or coach. 2. Perform ten pound dribbles with right hand, ten pound dribbles with left hand, and ten cross-overs in fourteen seconds or less with head up. 3. Dribble at jogging speed with right and left hands twenty feet down and back with head up. 4. Demonstrate proper shooting form with the ball, not at rim but into the air, to a parent or coach. There is an example testing sheet for all three phases of development on the Members Page along with take home drill sheets.
In ages eight through twelve years old, the “Golden Age of Skill Acquisition, there are four main skill areas we are emphasizing which are: footwork and pivoting to include the direct drive and cross-over step, ball handling to include full speed dribbling with the right and left hands, change of speed, and one change of direction move, basic shooting fundamentals at the rim at an appropriate height, and beginning stages of finishing at the rim. There are video examples of all of these skill areas and testing as well as drills and games to address on our Members Page. There are just four tests to address these skills which include: 1. Demonstration of v-series drill (cross-overs, between legs with right foot forward, and between legs with left foot forward fifteen times each) in twenty seconds or less with head up. 2. Demonstrate a full speed lay-up with right and left hands to parent or coach off one foot. 3. Demonstrate proper form with direct drive, cross-over step, shot fake, and create space pivot off left foot for right handed players to a parent or coach at game speed. 4. Demonstrate a proper shooting form with a ball at the rim to a parent or coach from an appropriate distance.
For our third phase of skill development for ages twelve through fourteen years old, there are four main areas we hope to progress to and emphasize which include: ball handling with equal symmetry for right and left hands with beginning mastery of one to two dribble moves, proper footwork and pivoting with the jab series and ability to square up to rim at various angles, progression of finishing moves at the rim, and grooving and repetition of proper shooting form off the catch and dribble. Again, video examples with drills and games to address can be found on our Members Page. The five tests to obtain baseline measures and determine effectiveness of teaching are: 1. Demonstration of pound series (pound cross-over, pound between the legs, pound behind the back) one minute timing of sixty repetitions or greater. 2. Demonstrate ninety percent or greater hand symmetry on speed dribble test with head up. 3. Demonstrate a full speed reverse lay up with the right and left hands with proper form to a parent or coach. 4. Demonstrate proper form with jab series footwork off left foot for right handed players to a parent or coach at game speed. 5. Demonstrate ability to square up on inside foot and shoot the ball with proper form off self-pass. We feel that the best way to teach and develop these skills is to drill it and then game it.
See below for sample testing or year end review forms: