basketball hoop

Basketball is a heart-pumping sport you can play year-round, whether on an indoor or outdoor court. Parks, schools, faith-based communities, and other locations near you may have a basketball court. Call in advance to see if the court has an open-use policy. Children who enjoy competitive play may love to give basketball a try! Younger or less competitive children can also participate in basketball–try teaching them basic skills (dribbling, passing, etc.) they can practice outside of formal gameplay. Also, you can see if your children’s friends and other children in your neighborhood would like to join to get a game going.

Before children can play a structured basketball game, they should learn the fundamentals of basketball. Here are a few to get them started:

  • Dribbling: Dribbling is bouncing the ball on the court and it’s how players move with the basketball across the court. Rather than using the palm to dribble, use fingertips. Keep your head high and avoid letting the ball bounce above your waist.
  • Passing: The three main passes are the bounce pass, the chest pass, and the overhead pass. The bounce and chest pass are done with the same motion, except the ball is thrown from the chest for the chest pass, and for the bounce pass the ball bounces on the court toward the other player. The overhead pass is better from a longer distance and the player should hold the ball with both hands directly overhead and throw toward the receiving player.
  • Shooting: Stand with legs shoulder-width apart with feet pointed generally toward the basket. Place your dominant (“shooting” hand) in the center of the ball and your non-shotting hand on the side for balance. Holding the ball in front of you with your shooting elbow bent under the ball, extend your arm in a straight line toward the rim and release the ball on the way up. As you shoot, the non-shooting hand should come off the ball and not influence the shot. After the ball leaves your hand, you should hold your follow-through position until the ball reaches the rim (wrists relaxed, arms in the same position as when you shot the ball, fingers pointed toward the rim).

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Children who can swim can even play a modified game of basketball in the pool! Use a basketball hoop made for the pool or closed object like a hula hoop to shoot the basketball into. Just make sure children have plenty of room and stay aware of other swimmers if it’s a public pool. Like any pool activity, children should be supervised at all times.

To find a basketball court near you, visit

Where will your children play basketball this week?

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Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

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Agricultural and Human Sciences Department

Cooperative Extension at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
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