Best Can't-Miss Basketball Plays for Kids

As a coach of a youth basketball team one of the most important things you can have handy is a play book full of plays that you know your team can learn! These plays should be simple enough for you to translate and advanced enough to push the players to learn, grow, and win more games. At Hustle we understand this and build our tools around your game. Here is a list of our favorites that we borrowed from other sites, but you can download our app for these and more.

Our first several are borrowed from the Coaches ClipBoard and are all 3-2 Offensive Plays.

  1. 53:  “This simple pick and roll play between O5 and O3 is difficult to defend… O1 passes to O3. Meanwhile O5 slides up to the ballside elbow and then back-screens for O3. O3 dribbles around the top of the screen and O5 seals and rolls to the hoop. If defense fails to switch, O3 should get the lay-up. If the defense switches, O5 will usually get open for the pass and lay-up, or at least will have a "big-little" mismatch in the post.”

  2. 42:  You can run 53 “to the right side too and call it "42".’

  3. 43: “This is a back-screen play designed to get the back-cutter open for a lay-up… O1 passes to O2. Meanwhile O5 screens for O4, who sets a screen for the opposite wing O3. After setting the screen, O5 flashes to the high post for the pass from O2…O3 back-cuts for the pass from O5. Optionally, O5 can shoot, drive, or pass to O2 (now in the corner), or across to O4.”

  4. Double Curl: “The curl cut can be difficult to defend at times. Here O1 passes to O2. Meanwhile O4 moves to the opposite elbow to act as a screener. O5 curls around O4 and looks for pass from O2 (and clears back to his original short corner if he doesn't get the pass). After O5 cuts, O3 delays and curls around O4's screen looking for the pass from O2 (and clears to the opposite corner). Then O4 delays, seals, and cuts into the paint for the pass from O2.”

Borrowed from Basketball for Coaches, these plays are best for smaller kids who cannot yet pull off sophisticated moves that older kids and teens can master:

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5) Ghost: “This play involves an up-screen for the guard leading to an open key. This can often lead to a simple pass inside and easy layup. If that option isn’t available, the post player sets a screen on the wing.” It requires the following players: “5 should be a post player or the best screener on the team. 2 should be the player you want dribbling in a pick-and-roll. 1 should have the ability to finish at the rim with pressure… The play begins in a 4-out 1-in formation with the 4 perimeter players above or in-line with the free-throw line… The play starts with the point guard (1) making the pass to 2 on the wing… As this pass is made, 5 sprints up and sets a strong screen on the back of 1’s defender as 1 cuts off the screen towards the rim.


If this pass is open, 2 will make the pass inside the key to 1 for the layup… If the layup isn’t available, 1 clears out to the weak-side corner… 5 will then immediately set an on-ball screen for 2 on the wing… 2 attacks the rim off 5’s screen as 5 rolls to the rim looking to create an opportunity to score….As 2 is driving to the rim, 3 and 4 slide up and into open passing lanes for the potential open shot and also to play safety.”

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6) Black: This is a “quick play to catch the defense off-guard give the wing player an opportunity to attack the baseline. Also involves the opposite post flashing to the key to counter the defense stepping across to help.” It requires that the player who first receives the basketball on the wing (2) should be the player you want attacking the rim.” Player 4 can be any team member, “as they can set a strong screen… The play starts in a 5-out formation with the post players in the corners. The point guard point guard (1) passes to either wing… As soon as this pass is made, the corner steps up and sets a strong screen on the wing player’s defender. 2 immediately rips the basketball through and attack the baseline. If the defense is set up correctly, 5’s defender will be in help position. To take advantage of the help, 5 flashes into the key and creates an angle for the correct pass. 2 should either finish the drive or drop the pass to 5 for the score inside. 3 will be open on the perimeter if the defense rotates down correctly.”

This next play is borrowed from Breakthrough Basketball and is one of the simplest to teach and run. For newbie coaches and newly formed teams that are not operating cohesively yet, try this to build everyone’s confidence.

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7) Easy Peasy: We made up the name for this simple offensive play that is effective and can be run repeatedly. This requires your best team member 1, someone who “can handle the ball, drive, score, and pass… 2 & 3 - Good shooter than can be a threat from the outside. 4 & 5 - Someone that can rebound and make shots inside.” This play is made by putting the players into a low 1-4 alignment on the baseline. The best player (1) gets the ball. This would be above the top of the key. The shooters are put in position at the corners, to make their defense work harder. Player 1 then “create[s] and drive past their defender. From there, he/she just makes a good decision (shoot or pass to the open player for the shot).Many times Player 1 will drive to the basket, get almost there, and the help defense steps in. From there the point guard reads the defense and then kicks to a player in the corner for a wide open three. But sometimes your best player will get all the way to the basket for a layup or make a short dish to a post player for a layup. It doesn't get any simpler and we always get good shots from this play. The key is for Player 1 to make good decisions and kick it to the open player when the defense helps. It's also worth noting that if the defender stays low and helps, the wing should cut to the wing. If the defender comes up high to stop the ball, the wing should stay in the corner.