My kid isn’t aggressive enough on the court! What should I do?

I get this question a lot. I think most players know they should be aggressive, but it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. When a player is not being aggressive on the court, they can cause problems for their team. Aggressive play is key to success, both on offense and defense.

Aggressive teams get more scoring opportunities than passive ones, which leads to more baskets on offense, and more stops on defense. Those opportunities can look like getting control of loose balls, grabbing rebounds, a successful drive to the basket, or more free throws.

Aggressive players get more free throw attempts.

If you’re a parent and you want your kid to spend more time off the bench and on the court, you need to teach them how to be more aggressive!

If you’re a coach, let me tell you this: you want every single player on your team to be aggressive. Encouraging aggressive play from your whole team means that you won’t have to rely on just a handful of your players. If all of your players are willing to go head-to-head with their opponents on the court, then you’ll have many players contributing to your team.

So, if aggressiveness on the court is fundamental to good play and good players, how do players get it?

Learning to Play More Aggressively

You can do this drill with a player and a coach/parent, or with two players and a coach/parent. Below you can see the set up for the drill.

This drill gets players comfortable with basketball contact.

As the coach, you should stand near the free throw line with the ball in your hands. You’ll want to hold the ball tightly, but not so tightly that your players will be unable to get the ball away from you. One of your players should play defense. He should be behind you, in front of the basket.

Next, you’ll want to have an offensive player lined up facing you. Have them run up and try to take the ball away from you. Give a little resistance, but not too much. Once your player has taken the ball, have him or her try to make a shot while the other player tries to defend. You can have the players rotate so they get a chance in each role.

If you don’t have a second player, just have the offensive player try to score after they take the ball from you. If you want, you can put a hand up as if you were a defender.

Things Not To Do

There are some drills that I’ve seen coaches do that I would never encourage. For instance, I’ve seen a number of coaches recommend a drill that goes like this: they roll a ball out on the half court line and then have their team run out and try to get the ball. These coaches say that this drill is a recipe for aggressive play. It may be. But you know what it definitely is? A recipe for concussions and broken bones. Please don’t do this!

It’s important to instill the importance of aggressive play in your players, and for them to get comfortable with contact on the court. But, you do not want to put any kid in a dangerous situation. Basketball is a contact sport, not a collision sport.

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