Playing youth basketball is a great way for kids to have fun, stay active, and learn about teamwork. Here’s how to get your child started.
Looking for a great way to get your child up and moving? Check out the nearest basketball court.
Basketball is an excellent conditioning sport that both boys and girls can enjoy. It improves physical fitness, coordination, and self-discipline. It also gives children valuable chances to learn about teamwork.
Children of varying ages and sizes can enjoy basketball. Most youth leagues accept children ages 5 and older.
Basketball games can be played on school playgrounds, home driveways, and indoor gyms. Although an official game requires 10 players and use of a full court, it is common to play with as few as 2 players on a half court.
The basic skills needed to play basketball include:
- Dribbling: moving the ball around the court by bouncing it with your fingers and hands
- Passing: throwing the ball from one player to another
- Shooting: propelling the ball toward the basketball net in hopes of scoring a goal
The size of the basketball court varies from 94-feet long at the college and professional levels to sizes much smaller for youth leagues. Likewise, the height of the basket and the size of the basketball are adjusted for the player’s age and size.
Your child needs very little equipment to play basketball. Since the game requires a great deal of running, jumping, and pivoting, your child’s basketball shoes are the most important piece of equipment. These shoes come in low- and high-top styles. High-tops are designed for added ankle support. A pair of comfortable, absorbent cotton socks is also advised.
Mouthpieces and protective pads
Basketball is a demanding sport. Your child may encounter hard physical contact. Some youth leagues may require children to wear mouthpieces. Protective knee and elbow pads can provide cushioning when your child falls or dives after a loose ball.
Basketballs come in varying sizes. The ball used in many youth leagues measures 28 1/2 inches around. Check out what size basketball your child will be using before you buy one. Standard NBA basketballs are about 30 inches around. You should also have an air pump to keep the ball properly inflated. Playing with a ball with too little air in it puts undue strain on joints and muscles.
Learning to play basketball
When children first join an organized basketball league, they spend a lot of time practicing drills that help them learn these needed skills.
Guidelines for safe basketball play
- Keep up on routine well-child checkups. At your next visit, check to be sure that your child is physically ready for any new training program or sport. Youth leagues and school teams often require a sports physical before participation.
- Pay attention to conditioning. Running, swimming, bicycling, and – for children over the age of 8 – supervised basic strength training are all excellent ways to keep the body in shape.
- Make sure your child gets enough rest and eats small meals before games.
- Have your child warm up for 5 or 10 minutes before playing. Running, toe touching, jumping jacks, and push-ups are all good ways to warm up.
- Encourage range-of-motion exercises after warming up. Moving the joints through their normal range of motion is important.
- If your child wears glasses or has any eye condition, buy safety glasses or glass guards to protect his or her eyes.
- Have your child remove any jewelry and get rid of any gum before playing.
- Keep outdoor courts free of rocks, holes, and other hazards that could cause injury.
- Don’t let children play outdoors in extreme weather or on courts that are not safe and well lit in the evening.