Basketball is a sport where the earlier you get your hands on a ball, the quicker you fall in love with it, and the greater the chance it’ll stick with you for the rest of your life. It could even lead to professional opportunities at the highest level. In fact, most athletes that make it to the NBA were just babies when they first touched the basketball for the first time and developed a love for the game. That’s not to say that you’ll miss the train if you start later in life; you can still make it to the big leagues. And the tips offered here to help get youngsters started just as well apply to older kids, because ultimately, we all have a child in us that wants to play and grow and play.
The tips here are listed not to help a youngster improve or work on their skills, but to simply have fun and plant a seed that could materialize into something meaningful later in life.
Here are many ways kids can get started and have fun with the game of basketball.
1) Put a ball in their hand of the appropriate size. A regular sized basketball can be overwhelmingly heavy and disproportionate.
2) Offer them a chance to shoot at a basket of the appropriate size, for example, a Little Tykes adjustable hoop toy you can keep in your basement or a Nerf hoop system you can mount on the bedroom door.
3) Don’t teach and offer unsolicited advice. Kids just want to play and do what comes to them naturally and freely so let them play on their own.
4) Encourage the things that offer positive reinforcement. Make it as easy as possible for them to make as many baskets as possible and cheer for them without overdoing it to keep them going.
5) Resist the urge to push them unless they’re asking for it. For example, just because they had a great time playing on a Saturday afternoon, don’t wake them up Sunday to play. In the beginning, be very casual. It’s a lifelong attachment.
6) Sooner or later, something will click. The click will create a lasting bond between a game and a kid. When this happens, the opportunity to push and train opens itself. Even then, do your best to avoid robbing the fun away from the game.
7) When playing with other kids, encourage usual friendship etiquette. Share the ball, share the shots and encourage them to encourage each other. For many budding basketball players, more and longer lasting friendships are made on the court than in the classroom.
The ability to connect with strangers, that is, random players on the court during pickup basketball at the gym, comes useful later on when your friends are too busy to go ball with you.
8) Tell stories. Share memories about times you played, the things you saw and experienced to wring meaning out of an otherwise, time pass activity.
9) Watch basketball games on tv with your kids. Show them the rules. Explain to them why the difficult looks easy. Explain to them the commitment it requires to make it to any organized level of basketball.
10) Play different forms of basketball games. HORSE, 21, 1 on 1, layup contests, etc.
11) Read basketball books and fiction so that kids can relate to other kids. For example, Matt Christopher’s sports fiction books.
12) Show them classic Youtube clips and highlights from the different decades and generations of basketball and share the differences in the eras.
13) Hoop at arcades, like the hoop games at Chuck E Cheese’s.
14) Video games. Basketball video games also open up the mind into the possibilities of things a person can do on the court. Like watching your favorite players, video games encourage kids to want to emulate and get back on the court.
To go from beginner level players to intermediate to advanced levels, start to learn from coaches, instructors and other players. Encourage them to use the web, not just to play games and use apps all day, but to research it to get useful information. Learn how to shoot, learn how to pass, learn how to dribble, learn how to be good teammates, learn how to defend, learn how players think, learn how coaches teach.