The best skills for a young basketball player

Having coached hundreds of athletes at various levels and ages (up to college), I've found that there are certain skills a youth baller should have in his/her repertoire for optimal effectiveness.
  1. Nice handles
    Nothing gives a player more confidence and intimidates an opponent than the ability to handle the ball with style and aggressiveness. And this is something you can always work on - whether your on an actual court or not. So no excuses.
  2. Midrange game
    With so much of the offense in the pros and colleges moving to the extremes of long distance threes and attacking the basket, the 15 foot jumper is unfortunately often ignored. But being able to pull up and hit a midrange j keeps the defender honest as you make him/her pay for closing out on your three or when they are doing their best to keep you away from the basket thinking you're going straight to the rim.
  3. Deep threes
    The three has always been huge from a scoring standpoint - obviously. But long (I mean several steps behind the arc long) distance ability can be an even more effective weapon. Not only is it tougher to defend, it opens up the offensive spacing for your team and pulls the help defender out of position. And this happened whether you make the shot or not. Provided your form is good - the defender psychologically begins to fear that your 25 footer will eventually drop and must guard you.
  4. Lay ups and free throws
    This sounds like a given but really in youth ball, if you can consistently make your lay-ups and free throws, you'll be surprised how much that puts you in the minority.