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How to Teach Young Children Basketball

By Melanie Williamson

Teaching young kids to play basketball can be a challenging process. You have to start by explaining the game and then teach the basic skills needed. When kids first learn to play, it is more about ball control and remembering the rules than learning strategy. It is important to always keep children's age and developmental level in mind and not let the love of winning guide your efforts. Young children learn at different speeds, so it is important to practice all the basic skills over and over again until all the kids are comfortable.

How to Teach Young Children Basketball

Explain to the children the fundamentals of basketball. They should understand that each team has five players on the court at a time. There are two guards, two forwards and a center. When playing defense, they will either play man-to-man defense, which means each player will stay with a player on the other team and try to prevent that one person from scoring, or they will play zone defense. Zone defense is when each player is given an area of the court to defend. They are not allowed to touch players on the other team. They are not allowed to run without dribbling, and once they cross the center line, they are not allowed to cross back. These are all things the kids should understand before you get them on the court to actually play basketball.

Demonstrate for the children how to dribble the ball. Explain to them that if they hit the ball straight down with their hand, it will bounce straight back up to their hand. Give each child a basketball and have them practice dribbling in place. Watch each child and give him or her help as needed.

Tell the children to walk forward in a straight line while dribbling. Have them go slowly with the goal of making it from one side of the gym to the other without losing control of the ball. Once a child does lose control, encourage him or her to just start again and keep trying. When the children reach the other side of the gym, have them turn around and dribble back. Do this exercise several times until the children have a feel for walking while dribbling.

Pair the kids up into groups of two and have them stand about 5 feet away from each other. They should be facing each other, and each pair of kids should have one ball. Show them how to pass and bounce pass. Have them practice passing and catching the ball with each other. Remind them to keep their hands out in front of themselves and to aim for the other person's chest when they pass.

Demonstrate for the kids how to shoot a basket. When you do, be sure to use the backboard. Explain to the kids how they can use the backboard to bounce the ball into the net. Then have all the kids line up and take turns trying to throw the ball into the basket. If you have use of a whole court, split the kids into two groups for this part, with an adult at each end to help the kids and offer advice.

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