When Is a Good Age for Children to Start Playing Basketball?

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When Are Children Too Young To Play Basketball?

Boys Playing Basketball
Boys Playing Basketball. Hulton Archive / Staff / Getty Images

Basketball is a great game. It is fun, exciting, great exercise and it can teach children a multitude of important lessons that can be applied in other aspects of life.

The good news for parents eager to get their children involved in athletic activity is that basketball can be introduced to children at a very young age. Basic motor and coordination skills as bouncing a ball (dribbling) and shooting can be honed starting when a child is just a couple of years old.

There are youth leagues available for children starting around the age or five or six, as this is an excellent age for children to begin to learn the basics and fundamentals of the game. Before a young player can truly develop a solid skill set, they must first understand the basic fundamentals of the game, Concepts such as hustle, teamwork, sportsmanship, and attitude can be introduced early on, as can more technical aspects of the game such as footwork, the importance of defense, and proper shooting mechanics. 

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Ball Handling

Child Dribbling
Child Dribbling. Andrew Burton / Staff / Getty Images

It is important for young players to develop a feel and confidence with the ball. With a mini ball, younger players can work on developing dribbling with practice techniques like hip circles, leg circles, ankle circles, and neck circles.

Younger children should practice all aspects of dribbling; dribbling right handed, left handed, dribbling with their head up, switching hands, dribbling through cones, around chairs, in the playground, or even in the driveway. It is important for a player to be able to dribble with both hands, and to be able to maintain a dribble despite obstacles. Speed while dribbling is also important. Young players can have dribbling races and even play tag while they are dribbling a ball in order to improve their overall dribbling ability. 

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Other Games and Skills

Young Players also have to learn how to properly pass and catch the ballYoung players should practice a whole variety of passes: two hand passes from the chest, one hand baseball passes, two hand bounce passes, over the end passes. At the same time, players can work on catching the ball with two hands. Players should be taught to catch the ball in an athletic, triple threat position with their knees bent, their hands making a target chest high, and their feet balanced shoulder width apart. 

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Footwork is also an appropriate area to focus on with young basketball players. Young, developing players may not be ready to make a ball fake or jab step and dribble drive to the basket, but they can practice the footwork for these moves and learn the basic footwork that is the foundation of good play going forward.

To practice footwork, young players can use an invisible "imaginary" basketball. They can make games out of these drills or place "X's" on the court showing them where their feet go, as if you were teaching dance steps.

When it comes to basketball, children can really begin to play as soon as they express an interest in the game. Young players can learn import fundamental aspects of the game while developing a passion for the game that could last a lifetime.