It’s 2022. The benefits of team sports for children are clear. Finding the right team sport for your child is the harder part. Some people still advocate for more singular sports like gymnastics or yoga to help children focus on becoming excellent at one thing or focus on physical and mental health at the same time. There’s a lot of debate about sports like karate and football or rugby, which can lead to discussion of violence and increased risk of physical injury. Some team sports can feel slow for a kid, like baseball, which requires patience.
Enter basketball. There are many advantages to enrolling your child in a high paced team sport like basketball. Read on to find out more about why basketball might be the right fit for your family.
1. Cardiovascular health
A fundamental part of basketball is the ability to run for long periods of time. Basketball games can last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour on the clock depending on your child’s age and where you enroll them to play. No matter where they participate, a healthy amount of cardiovascular activity will be built into practices and games. Getting your child into a workout routine that involves a decent amount of cardiovascular work is priming your child for better lifelong health. Setting this habit early leads to lower risk of obesity, heart attack, stroke, and diabetes as an adult. Additionally, as an immediate benefit, children will start to see the impact of the cardio work they are doing when they are on the court for the game.
2. Hand-eye coordination
Dribbling and shooting both require hand-eye coordination. Both practices and games require both of these skills, so children will get lots of time to improve their hand-eye coordination. Players get many opportunities to learn from their failures as they skill and drill. Learning from one’s mistakes is a hugely important life lesson for anyone to learn. Additionally, in the long run, hand-eye coordination helps with many life skills that your child will need, including things like becoming a better typist, a better driver, and a better note taker in class.
A part of what makes basketball so exciting for youths and adults alike is the quick nature of the game and how anything can change at any moment, so agility work is a part of both practices and games. Everyone wants to be the person to make the steal or breakaway with the ball or make that shot when your opponents are closing in on you. But none of those things are possible without the agility work that happens during training and practice. Agility is also good for children in their everyday life. Agility helps a person maintain control of their center of mass, which means they have quicker reflexes. This leads to fewer accidents and more independent function into your later years, which means less dependency on family to get things done.
One of the biggest benefits of any team sport is the friendships that are created on the team. As someone who played in and participated in mainly individual activities when I was young, I am a definite proponent of the benefits of having a clear and safe space to make friends. I was a shy kid, and when I stepped into a classroom on the first day of every year, I was scared to talk to anyone. I ended up having to work on my social skills a lot as I grew up. Basketball, like many team sports, requires communication and social skills to be good at the game, which translate to the classroom and later the work environment and makes for a happier, healthier social life.
Similarly, basketball is great at teaching teamwork. With just 5 players from your team on the court at any given time, it’s very clear who you need to talk to and what your goal is. Working toward the same goal and learning how to communicate with one another is a hugely important skill for children to learn. Communication comes in handy in schoolwork and lifework as well as in interpersonal and family dynamics. Knowing how to communicate your needs and understanding there’s many ways to achieve a goal sets your child up for success in life.
Like most sports, basketball requires discipline to become better. Players need to have patience with themselves and others as they practice passing and shooting. They need to learn how to control their movements, when to speed up and when to slow down. They need to learn how to control their emotions: getting upset when a teammate misses a shot will not score them the point, but being able to rebound, emotionally, will give their team a better chance at winning. They need to learn how to communicate in words and with looks and hand movements. They need to memorize, at times, complicated plays. All of these skills require discipline. Children need to learn to do something over and over to get good at it and benefit the whole of the team. In the long run, this kind of discipline helps students understand why they are asked to “skill and drill” in academics and at work.
7. Work ethic
Basketball requires work to become better. If you want to be a starter, you’ll need to practice even more. If there’s a specific spot on the team, like point guard, that you are hoping for, you’ll need to narrow your focus and develop your skills. All of these things require a strong work ethic. They require the ability to understand that you will not be great at something right away, and also that even if you are great, you can’t stop. You have to continue to practice and work hard to maintain that status as great. If you’ve seen The Last Dance, you’ll know exactly what I am referring to when I say that even the greats like Michael Jordan can’t handle people they perceive as slacking off (in his case, Dennis Rodman). These types of role models show children that working hard is a valuable skill in life and on the court and is not something that ever stops.
Want to learn more about basketball? Check out our blog post!