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How to Help Your Child Get The Most Out of Basketball

As parents, we always want the best for our children. It applies even more when it comes to education and sport. We want to make sure we enrol them in a good school and that we are supporting our kids to do sports and to exercise. So what can we do as parents to ensure that our children get the most out of basketball?

Firstly, it is essential to understand what your child’s expectations and goals are. Some kids play solely to have fun with their friends and basketball is a social activity. That doesn’t mean they aren’t trying to win, but they may be happy just participating each week. Other kids may be focused on playing basketball at a high level – their fun may come from pushing themselves to improve and from being tested in competition each week. Whatever their motivation, it is important to be supportive of what they are trying to get out of the game rather than holding them up to any parental expectations. It is also important to understand that their attitude to basketball may change over time – some of the greatest players in the NBA didn’t start playing basketball until a relatively late age.

Your child will get more out of basketball if they practice. Two key factors in a child’s development are the amount of time they practice, and the quality of that practice. If your child’s team trains for one hour per week, improvement will likely be slow, particularly if they spend some of that time waiting in line for their turn to dribble, shoot, etc. Spending fifteen minutes, three or four times a week practicing at home will double (or more) your child’s practice time and greatly speed up their improvement.

Don’t have a basketball ring at home? Kids can simply shoot the ball up into the air. Practicing the shooting technique is extremely valuable to their development and focusing on whether the ball goes in the hoop or not, can actually be a distraction (some times good shots miss and bad shots go in). Alternatively they can practice ball-handling or they can practice dribbling – practicing skills that they may not be confident with rather than only repeating something they can already do (so dribbling with their weaker hand for example). If you can spare a few minutes a week to practice with them, even passing the ball back and forth, I’m sure you will both be unbelievably rewarded by the experience. There is also an app called Home Court (www.homecourt.ai/) which uses a smart device (phone or tablet) to challenge kids in various tasks including fitness, ball-handling and shooting – the kids are more likely to want to do this given the ‘technology’ factor.

Following the game (win, lose or draw), focus on what your child did well. Compliment them, even for little things like throwing good passes or being fast up and down the court. Try to encourage your child not to obsess with how many points they scored – it is only one aspect of the game. We want to try and promote a team culture where the children are happy to pass to a teammate to score because it is in the best interest of the team. A player who aims to be the best defender, or best rebounder, may well help the team more than one focused solely on scoring. It is also generally not helpful to try and “coach” your child after the game ….. “you need to pass better” or “you need to rebound stronger”. It is meant with the best of intentions, but children don’t usually take it as constructive criticism, just criticism, particularly after they have just finished playing. It makes for a more pleasant car ride home if it is all positive – leave it up to the coach to provide the feedback and correction at training.

Parents play an extremely important role in any junior sport. Your encouragement, guidance and attitude can directly contribute to your child’s enthusiasm for sports. You can help ensure that your child sticks with it, and enjoys all the benefits – physical, social and emotional – of being active.

Your kids success, or lack of success in sports, does not indicate what kind of parent you are. But, having an athlete that is coachable, respectful, a great teammate, mentally tough, resilient, and who tries their best, is a direct reflection of your parenting. Winning and losing is quickly forgotten but your kids will remember your involvement and support in their journey for the rest of their lives. They may even thank you one day. 😊

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