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15 Tips to Improve your basketball skills

Man Spinning a basketball

Playing basketball not only kept me in shape, But the fast paced nature of the game was so exhilarating. I loved the action of every play. Watching the ball go from one person to another then finally in the net or unfortunately sometimes into one of your opponents hands. But win or lose to me it was more about being out there on that court playing a game that I loved. Now don’t get me wrong I loved winning and my team was definitely always out for the win, but we were not sore losers when we lost. We had a great coach that made sure he not only taught us the game of basketball but taught us human kindness to. He taught us that loving the game does not always mean winning the game.

I’m not going to say I ever became a master B-Ball player, but I did everything I could to improve my performance at ever game. I worked my butt off on and off the court.

I have come up with 15 tips I used and may help you as well.

Improving your skills.

  • Get in shape. Basketball can be a physical challenge. If, are not in good shape you can cause injury to yourself. There is a lot of running and jumping in basketball and it is all very fast paced. I road my bike or ran every day that I wasn’t at practice to build and strengthen my leg muscles. I also did High knee running in place. For arm strength I worked out with light weights only 5lbs. Arm strength is important for dribbling and passing the ball, but you don’t need to be bulked up.
  • Dribbling. I practiced dribbling both standing in place and running. I also taught myself to dribble with both my dominant right hand and my left hand.learning to dribble with your weak hand is important in case your opponent is on the outside you can dribble on the inside. But don’t dribble with one then switch. Although I think this is legal in youth basketball I do not believe it is in college or pro so better to not even get into that habit. Remember you have better control of the ball if you don’t dribble to hard.
  • Jumping. Start out jumping in place jump up on a curb first with your legs together then slightly apart. Then practice jumping as you make a shot.
  • Rebounding. Bounce the ball as hard as you can and jump to catch it. See if you can catch it before it drops half the distance of the bounce. You can also throw the ball at a wall in the opposite direction from where you are standing and tryPlayer dribbling a basketball to get it before it bounces or at least before the second bounce.
  • Shooting. Practice shooting from different spots on the court. Do this first in a standing position then try it running at the hoop.
  • Defending. Work on your defense. If, don’t have someone to help you with this one use your shadow. Place the ball on a chair in front of you. With your arms out watch the ball as you move from side to side also watch your arm and leg position of your shadow. Could an opponent get the ball under or through your legs? or past your arms?
  • Passing. Again if you don’t have another person to pass to use an object. This can be a chair. A dot on the garage, or just about anything. Try from different positions to pass the ball to that object.
  • Passing Positions. Work on passing behind your back, directly in front of you, through your legs ETC.
  • Work on your hand alignment on the ball. How you handle the ball effects becoming a consistent shooter, and passer.
  • Game speed. Try doing all the above at game speed. It is always easier doing things on your own at a slower speed, but doing them at game speed and under pressure it completely different. That is why coaches have scrimmage games.
  • Weaknesses. Identify, understand and work on your weaknesses.
  • Get to know your teammates strengths and weaknesses. Knowing what your teammates strengths and weaknesses as well as your own will help your game play. It will help you during a game with knowing who to pass the ball to, who may want to pass the ball to you etc. Also if possible get to know the strengths and weaknesses of your opponents.
  • Try to make every team practice. Being at practice is not only important for you but for your team as well. This is wear you get to know one another not only on a teammate perspective but as individuals.
  • Never feel like you are the only one. No matter how good you get ALWAYS remember you are part of a team. No one is the only one. And not everyone is good at everything. Help teammates if they need improvement with something you are good at and never be afraid to ask if you need help.
  • Most important skill you could probably have is kindness. Be kind and respectful. Not only to your team, but the other team as well. Just enjoy the game win or lose. As I mentioned in a previous post my coach always taught us we are humans before we are basketball players.

Some things to Remember.

Some people just have natural skills so don’t get discouraged if someone else is better than you at first. Most people have to work at their skills and it takes time. Don’t give up. Work hard and make the best of the skills you are good at.

Wear Properly fitting shoes to help avoid injuries and sliding on the court.

Never lose your temper.

Basketball Rules. How to play Youth Basketball

Cartoon image of a finger spinning a basketball

Basketball rules and regulations differ slightly depending on the level. Professional rules differ a bit from college rules and college rules differ a bit from high school and youth. The rules also differ slightly in the USA from international rules.

In this article we will be discussing the rules of youth basketball.

Basketball.

Basketball is a wonderful game played by millions of youth both in the US and around the globe.

At what age can you play Youth Basketball?

Youth basketball generally goes from ages 5 to 13. Personally I would recommend you not start your child playing on an actual coached team until they are around 7 or 8. I just feel 5 and 6 year old are not ready to comprehend and may become discouraged and not want to continue. I think if you want your child to start the basics of basketball that early it should be more of a one on one of just learning things like how to dribble, how to pass etc.

Leagues are usually organized by age group, and normally the ages are within two years apart meaning the team may consist of children from ages 5 to 7 or 7 to 9 etc. but this can vary depending on the amount of children available in those age groups. This is another reason I suggest not starting your child at 5 or 6.

Regulation balls and basket height.

Youth balls come in three sized 4, 5, and 6. The basic height for youth hoop is 10ft but usually gets lowered to 8 or 8.5 ft, for the younger ones.

Just a few basics to start.

If your child is between ages 5 to 11 they do not start the game with a jump shot as most games start. Instead, they do a coin toss and the team that wins the toss throws the ball in at half court.

This age group also does not have three (3) pointers. Why you might ask. Well taking away three pointers and jump ball takes away some pressures on this age group and allows them to build confidence and it also encourages them to shoot from an age appropriate range. Once they reach the 12year and up range then the jump ball and three pointers are put back in the game. This age group has a better grasp on the basics of the game and has a little more strength. I personally think this is a great way to play. I mean I know when I was 5, 6, or 7 I defiantly could not have made a 3 pointer. I was barely able to make them in middle school.

This age group also can only have a one on one “Player to Player” Defense as well . Then at 12 and up they start zone defense.

There is also no double teaming in this age group nor can they steal from a dribbler.

There is also no shot clock until 12 and up.

Again you may ask why all of these items are removed from the youth age well honestly these are just league guidelines and of course they can vary. If you have a child in this age group that is more advanced in the games and their abilities they can probably be put into a different age group or you may find a team of more advanced players in a younger age group. Pretty much these guidelines are in place so the children of the younger age groups can enjoy the game and learn the basics without feeling too much pressure. You have to remember they learn as they grow and grow as they learn.

About the game.

Okay now that we have gone over some basic rules and guidelines for youth basketball lets now discuss the object of the game.

Basketball is played with two teams. Each team has five (5) players on the court at a time. The player positions are.

  • Power Forward
  • Small ForwardImage showing the player positions on a basketball court
  • Point Guard
  • Shooting Guard
  • Center

The object of the game is to outscore the other team by making baskets and preventing them from doing the same. At the beginning of the game each team is given their hoop. They will make points in that hoop until the second half then they switch.

The game starts at the middle of the court. In youth a coin is tossed to determine who gets the ball first. Ages 12 and up do jump ball. This is where the basketball is tossed in the air by the referee and a player from each team jumps and swats the ball.

Getting the ball to your basket.

Okay now to get the ball to your basket you can dribble it while running up the court or you can pass the ball from player to player. But do not double dribble that is an illegal action. “We will discuss that more in our illegal plays and fouls”

You want to get the ball to your hoop and get it in to score. But the other team can block you and steal the ball or they can also steal the ball as it is going up court. In youth from 7 to 11 the ball can not be stolen from a dribbler.

Once you make a basket the other team gets the ball. A player from the other team has a limited time to get the ball back on the court to one of his players.

How are points scored.

A basket is worth two (2) points and a free throw is worth one (1) point.Basketball going through a hoop

There is also a three (3) point score but not in youth ages 5 to 11.

Illegal plays and fouls

  • Holding- When a player uses their hands to grab an opponent, and prevents them from moving.
  • Hand check – When a player continually uses their hands on an opposing player.
  • Illegal hand “Reaching in” – Similar to holding. Typically, called if you are touching the shooters arm or hand through their release.
  • Tripping – Using your feet or leg to throw off your opponent’s balance.
  • Elbowing – Swinging your elbow and hitting another player.
  • Technical foul – When another player or coach uses unsportsman like behavior.
  • Flagrant foul – Acting out violently in a way that can cause serious injury. May be intentional or unintentional.

Violations

  • Traveling – When a player takes more than two steps between dribbles or without dribbling the ball.
  • Palming – Dribbling the ball too far to the side or underneath.
  • Double dribble – When a player picks up the ball to establish their position then restarts to dribble or dribbles with both hands on the ball.
  • Back Court – When a player brings the ball over the half- court line then goes back over.
  • Kicking – When a player kicks the ball.

Some of these fouls and violations may be overlooked in youth Basketball especially in the younger age groups.

Traveling for instance may be overlooked

Double dribble may be overlooked

and Back courting may be overlooked

It really depends on the age, the Referee and the Coaches as to rather or not they want these calls made. I mean these kids are just learning the basic right.

Words and definitions.

  1. Dribbling – Advancing the ball up the court with one hand.
  2. Passing – Moving the ball around the court by throwing it to your teammates.
  3. Shooting – Putting the ball in the hoop.
  4. Rebounding – Getting the ball from a missed shot.
  5. Defending – Keeping the other team from scoring.

Most Important.

Always remember these kids are just learning and will make mistakes. Basketball as well as any other sport is meant to be fun, so be encouraging not only to your child but his teammates as well. Always be respectful to the coach, the opposing team and all spectators. Never use foul language or violent behavior.

These are just some basics to know before getting started. Remember that the rules and regulations vary from age group as well as from league to league and organization. Check with each to find out what the rules are when enrolling your child in the team.

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Youth Basketball ages 5 and up

Image of a basketballDo you want to be a basketball star?

Youth basketball is a great place to start. There are several choices out there. Many boys and girls clubs offer basketball, or your school, or basketball camp. Some Gyms even offer youth basketball. Some places depending on where you live even have basketball leagues that are year round.

Youth playing a basketball game

Expense.

As far as cost goes basketball is one of the cheapest sports to get into.

The cost vary depending on where and who you play for.

If you play for a school they usually provide you with the uniform. So there your cost would only be to buy a pair of shoes that would be good for the court. Unless of course you want a net and ball to play and practice at home. Other expenses would be maybe gas and food if your parents went to an away game to watch you.

Now playing at a basketball camp on the other hand cost between $150 to $1,000.  These cost do not always include uniform fees, but some don’t require a uniform they just request that you bring white tee shirts and maybe a certain color of shorts.

The YMCA youth basketball cost between $80 and $120 this usually includes a Jersey.

The boys and girls club cost about $130 and also includes a jersey.

Now most schools don’t start sports until middle school so if you want to play before then your best bet would be the YMCA or the Boy’s and Girl’s club.

Most youth groups start at age eight (8).

Personally I would recommend starting out with a youth group of some kind to learn the basics. And do a little bit of research on the positions to see what position meets your strengths. Or what position you would like to play.

My story.

When I was in Jr. High School now known as middle school, I was encouraged by a good friend to try out for the school basketball team. Although I loved basketball, I was a bit intimidated to try out thinking I was not good enough to ever make the team. With a bit more encouragement and the promise that she would try out if I did, I finally bit the bullet and added my name to the tryout roster.

Tryouts were three days long and we were tested on different abilities such as speed and endurance, how well we could dribble and pass the ball, making shot, and most important be a team player.

At the end of the third day the coach had us all sit on the floor, and said although we all did a great job, he could not pick all of us and if he called your name please stand up and walk over to the mid court line.

As he called off names, I wondered to myself are these the players or are these the ones being cut. Then there it was, He called my name. As I, walked to the mid court line my heart felt like it was going to pop out of my chest. I was filled with anxiety not knowing if I had made the team or had been cut.

The coach called off a few more names than walked over to the mid court with all of us, turned to the others still sitting on the floor and announced. As I, said you were all great and my choice was hard unfortunately if you are still sitting down, you did not make the team. Then he turned to us that were standing and said, Congratulations you are all officially The Jaguars basketball team.

I don’t think I have ever been so excited as I was in that moment. Although, my friend not making the team was a bit disappointing.

Positions

After a few practices the coach called us altogether and informed us that he had made his position choices.  He informed me I would be a point guard.

Point Guard. What? ME?                                                                                                     

I was given the position of point guard. At first, I wondered why the coach would give me this important position being I was not a great shooter being of small stature, but I guess I was pretty good at reading not only my team but the other team as well, and I was good at guarding other players, stealing the ball and passing it to those I knew could make the shot and put points on the board.

Practice, Practice, Practice.

I never missed a practice. I wanted to be the best I could be and help my team. Even on days that we had no game or practice I practiced on my own.

I road my bike and ran to strengthen my legs, I worked on dribbling, and when I didn’t have someone with me to help, I would throw the ball at a wall as if it was another person to whom I was passing the ball to. I did all I could to work on myImage of a basketball court

game.

I loved how it made me feel to be good at my position I sometimes wished I was taller though so I could make more baskets. But being a team player, I just became the best I could at the position I played and getting the ball to the players that could make the points.

Now don’t get me wrong it wasn’t that I could not score at all I just couldn’t make the long shots. I practiced and practiced but that just was not in the cards for me. I soon realized that I needed to stop trying so hard to be a shooter and just master what I could do.

I have to say I played my position pretty good it was not often another player got past me. And when I stole the ball and passed it I almost always met my mark.

No, I am not trying to brag I am only stating that through hard work and commitment I became the best I could be at my position.

I wanted to be great at all of it but I realized that was not possible. The point I am trying to make is that it is best to work hard at the position you play no matter the sport instead of trying to do it all.

Trust the Coach.

The coach puts people in certain positions for a reason, so trust that no matter what position you play the coach put you there because he had trust that you would play well in that position. As I, stated above I wondered why the coach gave me the position of point guard when I was less than great at making shots. But when I asked him he explained to me that although I was not a great shooter I was good at handling the ball, blocking other players and getting the ball to the right people when I had it. See he understood that even though I myself could not make a great shot I was good at getting the ball and getting it to others on my team. He told me he knew that I understood not only my strengths but the strengths of the other players.

I did eventually become better at making shots. Not a three pointer but I put a few points on the board at a couple of games.

Everyone gets a chance.

I learned early on that it doesn’t matter who on your team scores the points what matters are getting the points on the board. We had a couple of players on our team that made almost every shot they tried for and I knew in a pinch these were the ones I wanted to get the ball to but I also wanted to give all the players on the court the chance to make points as well. Did this always work out in our favor? No, but when it did it sure built up the confidence in the player that scored. Our coach was pretty good at making us understand that yes, winning was important but win or lose we do it as a team and a team does not consist of just two or three good players. So rather you were a great shot or not if you were the only one open you were getting the ball.

On to the playoffs.

My team made it to the playoffs that year unfortunately I did not get to play in the last part of our season I moved away.

I wish I would have played for the other school I went to but I never tried out.

Where would I be now.

I often think back to those days and reminisce. Sometimes I even wonder if my life would have turned out different had I continued to play. Who knows I may have gone pro.

I really did love the game.

Life Lessons.

I learned a lot of life lessons playing basketball. Like just be you! You don’t have to be like Jenny who makes every shot. Take what you can do and master it or at least be the best you can be this is a real confidence builder. Everyone on a team has an important part because without one part/skill someone else’s part won’t function right. I mean if those great shooters didn’t have the point guard to block for them or get the ball to them then what are the chances of them making that shot? On the other hand if the point guard didn’t have those great shooters then who would put points on the board. Get the point? Team work is a must in any sport. It takes some great ethics to respect the position of ever player and their part in the game and not thinking you are the best and without you they would never win.

If I had to give any advice.

My advice to anyone who wants to play basketball is work hard at whatever position you are given. Make the best of your abilities in that position, but most of all be a team player.

 

 

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