It’s no secret that physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for people of all ages, and the best way to turn exercise into a habit is to start young. Encouraging kids to play a sport can help change physical activity from a chore into an exciting pastime that they don’t want to give up. Basketball is the perfect sport for kids of any age to get started playing, even if they don’t quite realize it yet.

Simple ideas for getting your child started playing basketball

At Burlington Basketball, we’re all for the love of the game. Our non-for profit organization promotes kids playing in all capacities. From drop in sessions, to house leagues, to competitive clubs – we’re Burlington’s place for youth sports, fitness and fun! If you’re in the Burloak or Halton Region –  join us!

Although you ultimately want your child to choose a sport that they have a true interest in, there is no harm in trying to guide them into playing basketball if this is a sport you love (even if you’ve never played). As long as you ensure that you aren’t pushing them in a direction that they aren’t interested in going, your gentle suggestions might just pay off. These simple ideas can help your child figure out whether basketball is the right sport for them – perfect before ever signing them up for a program.

1. Gauge their interest in sports

The first step in getting your child interested in basketball is to figure out whether they’re interested in sports at all. Most often, if your child has no interest in sports as a whole, you’ll be facing an uphill battle trying to convince them to play basketball. However, if they have a general interest in sports already the idea of playing basketball might not be a crazy one.

2. Observe if they seem to have restless energy

Many kids display some habits that make it obvious that they have restless energy that could benefit from an athletic outlet. If this is the case with your child, they may be fairly open to the suggestion of playing a sport like basketball.

3. Play as a family

Including all members of the family in a rousing weekly game of basketball can help encourage hesitant athletes to brush up their skills with the ball. Friendly competition without the pressure to play perfectly is sure to be a push in the right direction when it comes to getting interested in playing basketball. If you’re in Canada and not living within a rural area, chances are there’s a basketball net at your local park playground or school yard.

4. Put up a hoop

Without much of an investment, putting up a hoop is a great idea. Whether you buy it at your local Canadian Tire or Costco, or your neighbourhood buy and sell for a used one – it’s minimal investment. Studies show that within 1 minute of putting up a basketball hoop, 99.9% of all kids start playing. Well, that’s not a real study we know of – but watch!

5. Focus on fun

When it comes down to it, the most important aspect of playing any sport is the fun a child will have. Friendly competition can help be a small motivator, however if a child isn’t having fun, they won’t be pulled to keep playing the game. If the focus of playing ball feels like it’s becoming more about scoring and making the perfect play rather than having fun, a new player might quickly get discouraged from playing.

6. Include their friends

For most kids, inviting their friends to join in is a sure-fire way to get them interested. When friends of similar experience and skill levels get together and can play with each other, they are likely to learn together and spur each other on.

7. Don’t force it

One of the worst things you can do when attempting to cultivate an interest in basketball is to force it on a child. When a child feels forced into something they are more likely to push back against the pressure and abandon the idea before they’ve even started. The best course of action is to facilitate fun and expose them to the game, while still allowing them the space to figure out their own interests.

8. Local free community centres for open gym time

Without registering formally for a house league, you can find indoor gym time at local community centres. Towns usually have open gyms open for kids, and often parents can play too. Best of all, it’s pay as you go and sometimes without a fee at all! Great especially in frigid Canadian winter months!

Best program to start with? Canada’s Jr. NBA program

The Jr NBA kids basketball program is the perfect way to get a child started in basketball. Geared for 5- to 7-year-olds, lessons focus on teaching players the fundamentals of the game and good sportsmanship while emphasizing the fun they are having. At this age, a love of the game is one of the most important motivators that a young player will have so getting started with this nationally developed program that focuses on that is the best way to go.

Plenty of opportunity to expand knowledge

Once a player has gone through the Jr NBA program, they will be equipped to move into a more in-depth program. While they’ll no doubt spend some time in a house league program in order to develop skills and get some playing time, in time they may decide to give a rep league a try. Rep leagues are designed to help players become the best that they can, and are an excellent choice for a dedicated and motivated athlete.

Basketball is a great sport for kids of all ages

While any sport that your child wants to play will have many benefits for them, basketball is a great choice. The teamwork, motor skills, game knowledge and life skills that they will develop while playing ball for even just a few years is sure to stick with them for their entire lives. Joining a basketball team is also a great way for kids to form lasting friendships both on and off the court.