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10 Best Easy to Learn Youth Basketball Plays

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10 Best Easy to Learn Youth Basketball Plays

Jake Schwerer

Jake Schwerer is the Marketing Manager for Cedar Point Sports Center. He has worked in the sports and entertainment industry his entire career, having worked for both Cedar Point, Cedar Fair, and now Cedar Point Sports Center. He’s an avid sports fan, especially the Cleveland teams, and loves working at a venue where he is constantly around sports!

Scoring the ball efficiently in a half-court offense is very important to winning games. Doing this is made easier when you have designed plays that time and time again will give you an open look. Here are some youth basketball plays that are easy to run and will give your team the best looks making it impossible for the defense to stop you.

1. Cougar

This is a very simple play that is set to get you guard and open shot on the baseline. This play is set up with the 1 dribbling the ball up, the 2 and 3 being on the wings, and the 4 and 5 being on the blocks.

  • This play will start by the 1 passing the ball to the 2 on the wing.
  • They will then receive a screen from the 5 on the elbow going towards the basket.
  • Around this screen, the 1 will be running a J shaped cut and looking for the ball for an open 15-foot shot along the baseline.
  • If it is not open, then the 2 can dribble the ball to the top of the key, reset the play, or call a different play.

“Cougar” is a very good beginning play for youth basketball as it just involves getting a screen and making a pass to an open shooter. And like many of these plays, being a naturally resetting play, your youth team will know exactly how to keep the ball moving and play going.

2. Overload

This is also one of the simpler youth basketball plays that just relies on swinging the ball and looking for open shots or big men in the paint. This play will be set up traditionally with the 1 bringing the ball up, the 2 and 3 on the wings, and the 4 and 5 on the blocks.

  • The play will start when the 1 passes the ball over to the wing.
  • If the 1 passes the ball to the 2 on the right wing, the 4 who is sitting on the opposite block will flash up to the near elbow.
  • The 5 who was on the near block, will pop out looking for about a 15-foot jump shot on the baseline.
  • If the ball is passed in to one of the big men, the opposite big man will make a backdoor cut to the basket looking for a pass.

The only moving parts of this play are really the ball and the big men who will be making opposite flashes every time the ball is swung as they run basically a continuous X across the paint. Still, overload is very effective as fast ball movement can lead to open shots around the perimeter, or in the paint. One more thing to really look for is if the ball is passed into the elbow, the opposite side defender will help in a lot leaving the opposite wing wide open for a shot, or backdoor cut towards the basket.

3. 5-wide

This is a great play to spread the defense out and get some defenses over helping for open shots. The way this play is set up is with all 5 people along the perimeter. The 1 will dribble the ball up the center of the court, with the 2 and 3 on the high wings, and the 4 and 5 in each corner.

  • The play starts with the 1 passing the ball out to the 2 on the wing.
  • He will then get a back screen from the 5 towards the baseline.
  • The 2 needs to drive hard towards the basket along the baseline for a possible lay-up.
  • More than likely, the defenders guarding the weakside will help over creating an open look which is what this play is designed for.
  • If the person guarding the 5 in the corner steps across, the 5 can cut in for a backdoor lay-up or pull up jump shot.
  • If the person guarding the 3 steps across, the 3 will be wide-open for a 3-point shot or can also cut in for a backdoor lay-up.
  • If nothing is open, or you cannot get around towards the basket, do not panic, and just reset the ball at the top of the key to run this play to the opposite side, or call another play.

“5-wide” is a very effective play because most youth teams do not play great help, or weakside defense and that is the target of this play. It is very simple with only one moving part at the beginning but can lead to an open lay-up with bad help defense, or an open shot with bad weakside defense.

4. Swing

This play is set up with four players on the outside around the 5. Having four players around the perimeter, it does not 100% matter the order, just keep in mind this is a play designed for a shooter coming from the corner. For this example, we will have the 3 in the left corner, 4 on the left wing, 1 on the right wing, 2 in the right corner, all around the 5 inside the arc.

  • The play will start with the 1 dribbling the ball up the court and then passing it to the 4 on the left wing.
  • The 4 will then swing the ball to the 3 in the left corner.
  • Once the ball has been swung, the 1 and 4 will go set a double screen away for the 2 who will cut hard around it to the top of the key for an open shot.

The 5 should be following the ball as it is swung around the perimeter on the inside. Moving from block, to elbow, to elbow, to block. The great thing about this play, is if it is not open at first, everyone will be in position to set up the play again moving the opposite direction.

5. Iso Pick and Roll

One of the simplest and easiest plays to run against a man-to-man defense is this pick and roll offense. The good thing about this play is it is repeatable and can be an ongoing play until you have an open look or change plays. This play will set up traditionally with the 1 bringing the ball up, the 2 and 3 on the wings, and 4 and 5 on the block.

  • The play will start when either the 4 or 5 comes up to set an on-ball screen for the 1.
  • The 1 will drive around the screen looking to get to the basket.
  • The 4 or 5 will then be able to either roll to the basket, pop out for an open shot, or even slip the screen and go to the basket if the defense is cheating up.
  • When the 1 comes off the screen, look for the shooter on the wing as they might be open, but if no lanes are there, dribble out to the wing, hand off the ball, and they will reset the play.

This play can also be used very effectively end of game situations where you are trying to just keep the ball moving and run down the clock as much as possible. It is important to be smart with the ball in this situation by letting the screen get set, not driving into too much traffic, not throwing bad passes, and making a good dribble handoff if nothing is open. And keep in mind, if you are using this play at the end of a game to run the clock down, only take a wide-open easy shot, do not force any shots which could give the other team the ball back.

6. High Post Screen

“High Post Screen” is one of the better youth basketball plays as it sets up later play variations, really emphasizes a lot of quality basketball skills used later in these kids basketball careers, and can even be used very effectively at all levels of the game. This play will be set up with the normal 1 dribbling the ball up, the 2 and 3 on the wings, but the 4 and 5 will be on the elbows.

  • The play will start with the 1 dribbling the ball towards the wing to the 2.
  • The 1 will then handoff the ball to the 2 and go down to the corner. (Look for the quick pass back to the 1 as sometimes they’re open for a shot)
  • The 5 on the near elbow will then come over and set a screen on the wing for the 2 to come around.
  • The 2 can look to drive to the basket if it is open, pull up for a jump shot, look for the rolling screener, swing the ball for an open shot on the opposite wing or even pass the ball back to the corner where the 1 now is if his man helps over on the screen and roll.

This play just like the “Iso Pick and Roll” play can be repeated over and over again as the play naturally resets if nothing is open. Being smart with the ball and not making a bad pass is crucial on this play. With a lot of the action going along the wing, if a bad pass is thrown and the ball gets stolen, it could lead to a wide-open lay-up on the other end.

7. One

This play is very similar to the “High Post Screen” play. The difference is how this play starts off which can catch the defense off guard if you have run High Post Screen a lot and lead to a wide-open lay-up. It will set up the exact same with the normal 1 dribbling the ball up, the 2 and 3 on the wings, but the 4 and 5 will be on the elbows.

  • The play will start off with starting to dribble towards the 2 on the wing but then passing them the ball once they are about equal with the 5.
  • The 1 will then receive a backdoor screen from the 5 as the 1 makes a cut to the basket looking to catch the defense off guard and receive an easy lay-up.
  • If this is not open, the 1 runs around to the corner while the 5 then sets a screen for the 2 to come around.
  • The 2 can look to drive to the basket if it is open, pull up for a jump shot, look for the rolling screener, swing the ball for an open shot on the opposite wing or even pass the ball back to the corner where the 1 now is if his man helps over on the screen and roll.

“One” can really catch a defense sleeping if called at the right time and after being set-up well by running “High Post Screen” often. Do not try and force the ball to the cutting 1 though if they are not open as the play can then be run normally after.

Three

This play is similar to “One” and “High Post Screen,” it just is one of the more complex youth basketball plays with a few extra moving parts. Elite youth teams can run this play very well and it will lead to points way more times than not. This play sets up the same as those discussed plays with the 1 dribbling the ball up, the 2 and 3 on the wings, but the 4 and 5 will be on the elbows.

  • To start this play, the 1 will receive a high ball screen from the 5.
  • The 1 can then drive to the basket if it is open or hit the 5 on the top of the key if your 5 is a shooter as well.
  • If neither of those are open, they will dribble handoff to the 2 and pop out to the corner. (Look for the quick pass back to the 1 as sometimes they’re open for a shot)
  • The 5 will then come across and set another screen, this time for the 2 to come around.
  • As this is happening, the 3 will slide down to corner so he can receive an away screen from the 4 and flash up to the wing for an open shot.
  • If the 2 is not open for a drive, or not able to hit any of their teammates for an open shot or cut towards the basket, reset the play at the top of the key.

In this play, spacing is key. For example, when the 2 is coming off a screen from the right wing, and the 3 is coming off a screen from the left corner, is it very important not to crowd the center of the court or get in each other’s way. There is a lot of screening action going on so be careful and make sure each screen is set, and make sure your team is coming off each screen hard and either looking to score or looking for the ball. Someone will be open during this play, you just have to make sure you find them.

Two

This play is designed to be scored with good off-ball screening action. The play is set up traditionally with the 1 dribbling the ball up, the 2 and 3 being on the wings, and the 4 and 5 being on the blocks.

  • The play starts by the 1 passing the ball to the 2 on the wing.
  • After this pass, the 4 on the opposite block will flash up to the elbow looking for the ball for an open jump shot.
  • The 1 will then set an away screen for the 3 to flash to the top of the key for an open shot.
  • If the ball was not passed into the elbow to the 4 when he flashed, the 5 will come up and set a backdoor screen for the 4 to cut to the basket.
  • If nothing is open, the 2 can pass the ball back out towards half court to the 3 or dribble up to the top of the key and reset the play.

“Two” is designed for the 2 guard to make smart decisions with the ball as there are a lot of moving parts around the floor and someone is bound to get open. This play naturally resets just like many of these great youth basketball plays to transition into another go at the same play or switch it up to a different one.

Triangle

This play is primarily designed for youth basketball when you are winning the game and trying to waste some clock towards the end. “Triangle” will be set up with the 1, 2, and 3 all at the top of the key towards half court, the 4 on the right wing, and the 5 on the left elbow.

  • This play starts by the 2 making a cut towards the right side out at half court and getting a pass from the 1.
  • The 1 will then go set an off-ball screen for the 3 who will run around the screen and receive the ball from the 2 on the left side out at half court.
  • The 2 will then go set an off-ball screen for the 1 who will run around the screen and receive the ball from the 3 on the right side out at half court, etc.

As you can see, this play repeats itself over and over again in a triangle shape. Keep in mind, if the initial pass is not open after a screen, you can just turn around, reset the screen for the guard to come back up, and receive a better pass. Teams will also start to cheat over on passes, screens, and even bring up a 4th man to guard the triangle leaving your 4 or 5 wide-open. So, it is important to look for the defense to cheat over which could give you a wide-open lay-up which is the only shot you would want to be taking in these end game situations when you are winning. When running this play though, you need to have smart guards you trust to make good decisions, because being at half court already, one mistake can lead to an easy two points going the other way.

Keep in mind, all these plays can be run the reverse way, as they do not always have to start going towards the 2 on the right. And it is always smart to change up the name of the plays to fit your team and style.

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Jake Schwerer

Jake Schwerer is the Marketing Manager for Cedar Point Sports Center. He has worked in the sports and entertainment industry his entire career, having worked for both Cedar Point, Cedar Fair, and now Cedar Point Sports Center. He’s an avid sports fan, especially the Cleveland teams, and loves working at a venue where he is constantly around sports!

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