Ever wonder which team sport keeps boys and girls busy no matter their age, skill level, or the season? I recently had the opportunity to watch one of my clients play basketball with his middle school team, and it was so rewarding to see him transfer skills we worked on during physical therapy to the court. Basketball is a high-intensity, high-agility activity that teaches children coordination, concentration, and cooperation.
6 Health Benefits of Basketball:
- Endurance: As with any high intensity sport, there are many cardiovascular benefits of basketball. Between bouts of running, jumping, dribbling, and bouts of rests, kids are participating in total body interval training without even realizing it. Interval training boosts aerobic capacity, energy levels, and metabolism, which in turn helps kids concentrate more in school.
- Motor Control: The ability to control our limbs in space may come naturally, but being able to pass and shoot with precision during a basketball game takes special training and repetitive practice. Performing drills on and off the court with a basketball enables children to grade their muscle forces, control the position of their bodies in response to an opponent or a pass, and plan out successful movement sequences.
- Ankle Stability: All the agility training, cutting back and forth, multidirectional running, pivoting, and turning within a basketball game are great ways to challenge our lower body muscles and joints, especially the structures surrounding our ankles. Organized basketball teaches kids safe and successful ways to block, pass, steal, jump, and run without hurting themselves or others. Ball sports such as basketball are great for reinforcing kids’ balance reactions and balance strategies and prevent future injury.
- Balance/Coordination: As with most team sports, basketball requires upper body coordination, total body coordination, and hand-eye coordination. Dribbling, catching, passing, and making baskets require planning, precision, and quick reactions. Walking backwards, turning, or running while dribbling a ball and at the same time paying attention to other players is a challenging but interesting exercise for coordination and body awareness.
- Agility: Basketball is a fast paced sport where athletes have to think fast on their feet and respond quickly to plays that could change momentum and direction at any minute. Young athletes are working on mental drills in addition to physical techniques. Basketball enhances children’s agility due to the swiftness needed to dodge other players and make aggressive plays.
- Social Skills: The great thing about team sports is the level of discipline and communication needed for success at the games. Young athletes learn from an early age how to work in a team atmosphere, pay attention to others, and respond accordingly. An athlete needs discipline to attend practices and pay attention to the rules of any game. Team sports prepare children for necessary social interactions later in life. Through these sports, children understand shared responsibility, team work, how to deal with triumph and defeat, all of which are applicable throughout life.