Youtube is at our fingertips, and from time to time a video shows up in my feed of the next child basketball prodigy. Kids as young as 4 years old are dribbling better than I ever could and I have been playing basketball for many years. The following advice and guidelines below will help you determine if your child is ready to play basketball.
At What Age Can a Child Dribble a Basketball? Children as young as two years old are dribbling basketballs, this will depend on how developed a child’s gross motor skills are such as standing, walking, and climbing. Their fine motor skills include their hand-eye coordination like reaching for a toy, feeding themselves, and throwing a ball.
But is it safe to have a child play basketball at such a young age even though their physical and mental capabilities are not fully developed yet? I will discuss what I think is a safe age to start playing basketball and how I am implementing basketball with my child who is only 20 months old.
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So At What Age Should a Child Start Dribbling a Basketball?
Basketball is a very tough game at any age, it is not a game that reaps rewards immediately it takes time to develop the hand-eye coordination to shoot a basketball into a hoop, even more time to make the shot consistently. Don’t be surprised if you sign up your son/daughter to a team and they want to quit because they think they aren’t any good. Like golf, you need to constantly work on fundamentals and skills many times a week to stay at peak performance. You could take a week off and come back to the course or court and feel like you lost your touch.
For a young child to dribble a basketball it would require motor skills that are developed. This could be anywhere from 2 to 6 years old. You would need to think of ways to keep the child engaged as dribbling a basketball is not easy as especially for a child who’s just beginning. Using fun and creative games with the basketball would work to maintain their attention, as we know children at this age group can lose focus very quickly.
If you want to know when your child is ready to dribble a basketball or play any sport for that matter below I have some guidelines that you could use and see if your child has matched the criteria for that age and the basic motor functions necessary.
0 to 6 Months Old
- Holds small objects.
- Reaching and playing with a toy.
- Follows objects with eyes and all directions.
- Able to sit on their own with support.
- Roll over from stomach to back.
- Vision still developing,
7 to 12 Months Old
- Passes toy from one hand to the other.
- Able to pick up small foods and feed themselves.
- Turn pages in a children’s book.
- Crawling, standing, walking.
- Understands No.
- Can put toys away.
- Vision still developing.
13 Months to 2 Years old
- Uses both hands to play.
- Looks for new ways to play.
- Runs but may fall, Climbs and play wrestles.
- Mimic dancing on TV shows.
- Plays with balls and try’s to throw or kick it.
2 to 3 Years Old
- Enjoys playing with a variety of toys.
- Is able to locate objects on their own.
- Plays with musical toys.
- Plays with toys without mouthing them.
- Can sit to listen to a storybook.
- Motor skills more developed walks with heel-toe.
- Doesn’t fall as often when running.
- Able to catch a ball without losing balance.
- Doesn’t bump into objects often.
4 to 6 Year Old
- Can run, jump, climb.
- Plays schoolyard games.
- Plays with others.
- Is able to play with one toy for at least 10 mins.
- Can use utensils.
- Can dress themself.
- Plays in small groups.
These are just guidelines, you can find many guidelines, what I do recommend if your child is having difficulty with more than one of the tasks in a given age category I would strongly not suggest focusing on basketball for the matter and work on the necessary motor skills instead.
Introducing Basketball Early To My Child?
If you want to introduce basketball as soon as possible there are toys on the market such as a fisher price basketball hoop that adjusts from 2 to 6 feet tall Your love one can play on and practice putting the ball into the hoop.
My child who was just a year old received such a toy with sounds and buttons on the hoop, it also was a soccer net giving it 2 games in one. Its this exact one and she loves it. Very quickly my child was able to put the ball in the hoop. I say put as in place it in the hoop not shoot. If you click the picture it will take you to Amazon and you can see the current prices and other child-friendly hoops.
My child will not throw the basketball or shoot it at the fisher price hoop, I have tried to teach my child to shoot/throw it at the hoop but with no success or even attempting.
I have tried to also teach my child how to dribble with no success or attempts, my child just takes the ball and runs because that’s a game to them. Does daddy love basketball? Yes. Does daddy care if they don’t play his favorite sport? No.
I want them to be themselves and play and do whatever they feel like. Today might be blocks, tomorrow might be coloring. In the future, they might like basketball and switch over to soccer. In the end, I will encourage my kids just to be active and have fun.
Just keep in mind children lose interest in their toys quite quickly. If you’re a parent that wants there kid to be the next child prodigy, with the child being so young they may lose interest quite quickly. It is much better for them to be themselves and explore all types of games and activities. It helps with there overall cognitive function and motor skills.
I know a lot of fathers who I play basketball with that never push their son/daughter to play basketball, they by example play the game and in turn, their son/ daughter sees dad playing at a young age and then they become interested. That’s how they decide that they want to play. Many times my friends bring their little ones to the gym to shoot hoops and dribble the ball around. That’s how they grow to like it.
Teaching a Young Child to Dribble a Basketball?
Given that the child’s motor skills are developed, a great way that you can teach a young child to dribble is using the count method. First, make sure the child has a ball that they can dribble that is adapted to their size They have mini basketball’s on the market that is the same as Men’s Regular size they are just much smaller.
How to dribble.
- Make sure that the child has their feet wider than shoulder-width apart and knees bent.
- Get the child to extend their arm and if possible tell them to use their wrist to push the ball down to the ground.
- Now tell the child to follow the ball with their hand until the ball touches it on the way up. The natural response when they get the hang of it will be to push the ball down again. Ask them to keep their head up when the show they can dribble the ball repeatedly.
- They will tend to dribble the ball too high, a good height would be waist to chest height as a guide.
- They may use two hands if one is too difficult to start.
The Dribble Count Game
The dribble count game, assuming you have shown the child by example how to dribble you’re going to count one then catch the ball. Then bounce the ball twice… one, two, then catch the ball. Then three times, one, two, three, catch the ball, etc.
The child doesn’t need to catch the ball, the idea is to make each number they count to eventually become easier than before. Starting at one may be easy, but three is hard. Then the following day three maybe easy and they can now get to four, Great! That’s the record for them. This is just one of many games you could implement with your child.
How Much is Too Much?
There’s no question that these basketball prodigies have spent a lot of time practicing. Basketball is not an easygame, what you don’t see in the videos is the frustration, crying and difficulties behind the scenes to get to this level as a player no matter what age.
As a parent myself, I urge you to err on the side of caution, if the child looks distressed and you are pushing him through the gears, make sure to let them have a mental break. Try again tomorrow is another option if by tomorrow they want to try the skill again then go for it. If they decide they want to do something different support them. I encourage you to be active in your child’s choices in sports and extracurricular activities and always encourage them to have fun. It is so easy nowadays to hand a child a tablet or phone.
Can You Dribble With Two Hands In Basketball?
No, you can not dribble the basketball with two hands in a basketball game, it is called a double dribble and the other team would be awarded the ball.
It is okay at first when a child is learning to dribble a basketball to use two hands. They may feel that it is easier for them and it will build their confidence. Once they are comfortable they can try with one hand.
Does Dribbling With A Smaller Ball Help?
Yes, dribbling with a smaller ball will help the child dribble confidently. A smaller ball allows for more control. A bigger ball may seem easier but harder for their hands to get a feel of the ball which is important to control and maintain their dribble. If you are looking for a small basketball click here and the link will direct you to Amazon.
Why Is Play Important?
Does sweat if your little one doesn’t want to engage in basketball but get them involved in anything that keeps them active. Young children are experiencing fewer opportunities to play outdoors and get active and play with friends. It seems like the new norm is to be on a screen, tablet or phone.
As parents, we need to find time for our children and encourage them with physical activity, while that can mean putting them in basketball programs and a team sport.
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