Youth Basketball Warm Ups

Basketball Warm Ups – Pre Game

Is your team using this very important part of the game wisely?

Many youth basketball coaches take the Pre-Game warm up for granted, but there are many that make the most of it. The best basketball philosophy is to make the best out of every moment you have to ensure that you are getting your players ready to play – and the pre-game warm up is a great place to start! Here are many important Youth Basketball Warm Ups and Tips to help you succeed. Check out our new download basketball publication “Team Drills for Youth Basketball”

Basketball Warm UpsBasketball Warm Ups

Basketball Warm Ups



Typical Pre-Game Basketball Warm-ups – Good or Bad?

Although shooting free throws before a game is important, I would debate on whether having 12 players standing around waiting for their turn to shoot a free throw is the best way to warm up (see diagram below).

The point is this: Players have to pass, catch, run, shoot, dribble, jump, and play defense in the game – why aren’t they warming up and getting ready to use these skills? In a real game, players shoot free throws when they are tired so why not practice free throws that way? If you are going to do this basic free throw warm up, why not have some of your players running sprints to the side before they shoot?

 Typical “Free Throw” warm up!

Basketball Warm UpsAre these players getting the most out of this Pre-Game warm up?


Basketball Warm Ups

Coaching Tip - Warm Up Suggestions

 Coaches – Analyze your pre-game warm up to make sure that you are getting your players prepared for the game! Make the most of your pre-game warm so you players can be their best in the game! Use the best Basketball Warm Ups that are the most effective.

Check out some suggested warm up routines below.


Pre-Game Basketball Warm Ups / Drills with Handout

We have made a Handout available for coaches to better demonstrate the following suggestions for Warming Up and what it would look like on the court.

Pre-Game / Basketball Warm Up Drills – Handout


Suggestion #1 – (15 or more minutes to warm up)

A very good pre-game warm up routine when there is 15 minutes or more to warm up. The players rotate in the order they are numbered (1 goes to the 2 position, 2 to the 3, 4 to the 5, and so on). Notice how the player shooting the free throw rotates from a defensive drill (so they will be a little “winded” before they shoot). Add your own drills or create your own warm up, etc.

1. Two Player Passing:

* Works on passing and catching skills – changing from bounce passes to chest passes. Players should “look the ball into their hands.

Passing Drill (2-players / 1 Ball)

2. Free Throw Shooting / Boxing Out:

* Shoot some Free Throws, and have players Boxing out (not just standing there).

Free Throws / Basic Examples

3. Ball Handling:

* Figure 8 Dribbling, Crossover Dribbling, Around the Waste, etc.

Figure 8 Ball Handling Drill

Crossover / Basic (stationary)

Around the Waste

4. Zig-Zag Step Slide – Defense:

* Work on defensive slides using the proper stance, staying low and level (don’t bounce up and down). Keep arms up and out.

Zig Zag Defensive Drill

 5. Pull Back Crossover or the Nose Drill:

* Work on this very important ball handling skill – the Pull-Back Crossover is used to get out of “traps” and pressure defenses. The Nose Drill is one of the best Basketball Warm Ups and pre-game warm up drill that is widely used at all levels.

Pull Back Crossover Drill - Front View

Nose Drill / Warm Up Drill


Suggestion #2 – (8-10 minutes to warm up)

The “Baseline” Shooting Drill / Weave to Half Court then 2 on 1 Drill – One of the most popular warm up drills used by coaches to get their players ready for a game (especially when there is only 10 minutes or less to warm up). This drill mainly covers mostly shooting (game shots), it also covers other important skills such as passing, catching, hustle and conditioning, then move on to the Half Court Weave drill (which incorporates passing, catching, defense, and fast break skill work).

Baseline Shooting Drill

Weave to Half Court / 2 on 1 Drill


Suggestion #3 – (5-6 minutes or less to warm up)

The “Baseline” Shooting Drill – Would be my choice of warm up drill if we only had 5-6 minutes to warm up. Even though this drill mainly covers mostly shooting (game shots), it also covers other important skills such as passing, catching, hustle and conditioning. As long as your players hustle during this drill, they will get a good pre-game workout out of it.

Baseline Shooting Drill


Suggestion #4 – (change it up a little)

Half Court Lay ups with Boxing out is another favorite of mine. The younger players take a lot of lay ups in the game (and need to remember to box out), so why not practice full speed lay ups and boxing out during the pre-game. Have your assistant coach stand on the opposite block so the players have someone to box out. As long as your players go full speed and box out hard during this drill, they will get a good pre-game workout out of it.

Lay Up Drill with Boxing Out


Pre-Game – Basketball Warm Ups / Drills – Notes

a) Make sure that you know how much time you will have to warm up – then plan accordingly.

b) Plan for the unknown – Make sure that you have a warm up plan ready for 20 minute, 10 minute, and even 5 minute warm up times so your team will get the most out of any time frame you have to deal with.

c) Make sure all the players keep busy, and they all get equal time out of the warm up.

d) Design your own pre-game warm up to your teams needs.


Important Note on Stretching Out – Attending Tournaments

Stretching is very important prior to a game. Usually when your team is attending a tournament (where you play 2-3 games a day) there never seems to be enough time to stretch? One of the things that I do to ensure that the players will have time to stretch before the games is to have them in uniform and ready to go 30 minutes (sometimes 45 minutes) before the game. This way even though things get a little crazy at tournaments, the players will always be stretched and ready to play (sometimes tournament games will start earlier (or later) than expected).

More on Stretching (go to our Stretching Menu)


 Half Time Pre-Game Warm Up

How is your team using this time?

Many coaches also take the Half time Pre-Game warm up for granted. Whether your team is winning or losing at half time, it’s also best to keep the players warmed up. I have seen some coaches just toss some basketballs out there and just let the players have at it. The team looks undisciplined, unruly, and are all over the place. Kind of looks like this coach is saying we are going to win or lose anyway – so what’s the big deal? I have seen a few players get hurt because it got out of control. I have seen starters never touch the ball before the second half because there are so many players fighting to get a ball, etc. My suggestion is to also have a structured half time pre-game warm up. Even if it’s just to keep the players disciplined and focused on why they are there. Hopefully you have gained some insight on these Youth Basketball Warm Ups / Tips presented on this page.

Make the most out of anytime you have your players on the court! Make good use of the best Basketball Warm Ups to help your team succeed!

 Basketball Warm Ups


Check out our new download basketball publication “Team Drills for Youth Basketball” Lots of information on Team Drills that will increase the skills of your players, and help with Basketball Warm Ups. Lots of Diagrams and the Video Clips to help bring the information to life! Can’t beat the price for this much information.

basketball warm ups

Basketball Warm Ups

2 Responses to Youth Basketball Warm Ups

  1. Hussein Noor says:

    Wow thank you for these tips,I am a basketball player for my high school and want to continue my career into the coaching fields and this gave me bits and pieces that seem way more important than they are,I definitely will apply these skills and assets to my game. Keep up the great work!!

  2. Musiiwa Colletta says:

    Thnx for the information

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