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Free Basketball Warm-Up Drills

Using the proper Basketball Warm-Up Drills is essential to preparing players for practices and games.

In order for an athlete to compete at their highest level – to be able to go 100% – their bodies must be warmed up properly!

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A basketball warm-up drill can be something as simple as dribbling the ball up and down the court for 2 – 5 minutes. This basic activity warms up all the major muscles, gets the heart rate up, and helps the players work up a sweat. Now they’re ready for action!

There are numerous activities that can be used as basketball warm-up drills. It’s critical for coaches to pick warm-up drills that are suitable for the players’ age and level of competition. These drills need to fit the players’ ability – just as the other basketball drills need to. Please don’t overlook this important aspect.

I’ve seen coaches use varsity-level warm-up drills for their Saturday morning youth recreation team. This is great if you have an advanced group of youth players; however, this approach seldom works. I’d rather see the coach either modify that particular drill or use something more age appropriate.

Regardless of the level of competition, it is very, very important for coaches and players to use basketball warm-up drills before they begin their practices and games. The body must be ready before it can perform effectively and efficiently!

By learning and understanding the following Basketball Warm-Up Drills

  • Players will have more knowledge on the importance of properly warming up their bodies. They will have a foundation of drills they can use to warm-up before they compete.
  • Parents will be more capable of guiding their child as they approach this important aspect of the game.
  • Coaches will have a solid foundation of drills they can use to warm-up their players. They will be able to teach their players the importance of properly warming up before playing.

Basketball Warm-Up Drills

Basketball Warm-Up Drill #1: Carolina Drill

Description – This is an excellent drill to help players work on their right and left-handed lay-ups, jump stop, and timing.

Instructions – The players will form two lines under one basket – facing the opposite basket. Player 1 will be on the left side and player 2 on the right side. The players should be about 10 – 15 feet apart.

Player 1 will start by dribbling the basketball down the court to the opposite free-throw line. Player 2 should be sprinting down their side of the court toward the basket.

Player 1 will come to a two-foot jump stop at the elbow and make a bounce pass to player 2 who should be in the lane ready to shoot a lay-up. Player 1 will rebound the basketball and they will then repeat the drill back down the court.

Players – 2.

Tips – Player 1’s bounce pass should lead player 2 to the basket. Player 2 must be sure to sprint down their side and be ready to catch and shoot. If the timing is right, player 2 should not have to dribble the ball.

Have player 1 use their left hand as they are dribbling down the court. This will help improve their weak hand.

Variations – This drill can be done using left-handed lay-ups as well. Also, after the first lay-up, the players could stay at that end of the court until the entire team completes their turn – and then repeat.

Skills – Dribbling, Jump Stop, Timing, Passing, Lay-ups, & Rebounding.

Basketball Warm-Up Drill #2: 3-On-2 Drill

Description – This is a great drill to use before games because it gets the players warmed up in all aspects of the game.

Instructions – Five players will spread out on the baseline in the following way: Player 1 will be under the basket with a basketball, Players 2 & 3 will be just outside of the lane on the left and right sides, and Players 4 & 5 will be just inside the corner on the left and right sides.

On the coach’s command the players will sprint to half-court (player 1 will dribble the ball). Once they reach half-court, they will turn and run back toward the basket. At this point, players 1, 4 & 5 will be on offense and attempt to score a basket. Players 2 & 3 will be on defense and attempt to prevent a score or cause a turn-over.

Players – 5.

Tips – The offense should work for a good shot – either a lay-up or short jump shot. The first group of five will play until either a basket is scored or the defense gains possession of the basketball. The players should rotate to different starting positions after each turn.

Variations – The coach can assign the type of shot (lay-up or jump shot) to be taken for each group.

Skills – Offense, Defense, Dribbling, Shooting, Passing, Rebounding, Quickness, & Speed.

Basketball Warm-Up Drill #3: Basketball Tag

Description – This is a fun and simple drill that players at all levels of competition enjoy.

Instructions – The players will start in a designated area on the court (free throw lane, inside the 3-point line, etc…). Each player will have a basketball.

The players will dribble their ball throughout the designated area. While they are doing this they will try to knock their teammates’ ball away from them and out of the area – while also preventing their ball from getting knocked away.

Players – Any Amount.

Tips – The players should be using both their right and left hand to dribble – this is a great way to work on their weak hand.

Variations – This can also be an elimination drill with one player designated as “It”. That player will try to knock their teammates’ basketballs out of the area. The last player left with their ball wins.

Skills – Dribbling & Ball-Handling.


I hope you found these Basketball Warm-Up Drills to be helpful and informative. Remember, it’s important for players to properly warm-up before practicing or playing games.

This is an often overlooked aspect of the game – but it is so critical to the performance and success of the players. It really does make a difference in how they perform!

Be sure to check out our youth basketball tips page for more great advice on the game of basketball!

Enjoy and best of luck!