What Is The Best Age To Start Basketball?

What Is The Best Age To Start Basketball

Currently, the sport of basketball is among the top 10 in the world in terms of popularity. In the United States, it is even more popular, ranking #2. Thus, millions of kids are beginning to play basketball every year. Below, some of the different aspects of starting the game at different ages are discussed.  

Avoiding Parental Pressure

No matter what age a child starts playing basketball, an important aspect for all parents to remember is to try not to put too much pressure on their child too fast. Many studies show that putting too much pressure on young athletes can be damaging to them both physically and mentally. Moreover, kids can lose their love for the game quite fast when it starts to feel more like a job than just having fun. It is not a stretch to say that parents can drive their kids out of sports. That being said, parents should always try to find the right balance between pushing their kids to improve and pressuring them too much.

Ages 3-5

At this age, basketball can be a challenging game for kids. It requires a lot of hand-eye coordination and upper body strength, and children at this age do not always have those natural skills. Nonetheless, while playing the real game of basketball may be challenging, that does not mean kids at this age cannot be introduced to the game. One of the best things a parent can do to show their kid the game is to buy a toy basketball hoop, such as a Fisher Price basketball hoop. These toys are often adjustable in height and can be used to help kids learn to shoot a basketball without having to use a regulation-sized (10-foot tall) hoop. This advice will differ based on the child's natural development, but generally, this is a good path to follow.

Ages 6-11

At this age, most kids are ready to start playing organized basketball on regular-sized courts and hoops. Children will have typically developed the necessary hand-eye coordination and upper body strength as well as the ability to focus and really try and learn the rules of the game by then. Oftentimes, more so at the younger age of this group, the games will not be perfectly organized, and rules will not be followed to perfection, but by the upper end of this age range, most of these issues can be fixed. The most important thing for parents and coaches to remember at this age is games should be all about player development and having fun, not about wins and losses. If kids feel too much pressure to win and coaches focus too much on the best players and not on the development of everyone, kids can lose their love for the game and want to quit.

Ages 12 and Up

At this age, children often start to play serious basketball games that are organized and competitive. They can start by playing for their middle school and high school teams, as well as high-level travel basketball teams. If a child is just starting to play basketball at this age, they should be careful to hamper their expectations. Their skills will likely be behind their counterparts who have been playing the game for years. Despite this fact, if they want to work hard and have some natural athletic ability, they can pick up the game and enjoy it just as much as anyone else. It is certainly never too late to start playing basketball.

College Basketball

If a child wants to play college basketball, they definitely need to start playing and practicing their skills at a young age. They should not only play locally for their school team but also find a competitive travel basketball team that plays in high-level tournaments. This allows players to show off their skills against the best players and be seen by college coaches. Additionally, players should be sure to keep their grades up, as colleges want student-athletes, not just athletes. Lastly, parents and kids should be aware that only 3.4% of high school players go on to play in college, whether it be in Division 1, 2, or 3, so the odds are not in the average player’s favor. That being said, if a child really wants to play in college and they have the skills and work ethic, there is no one stopping them from doing so.

Professional Basketball

If a child wants to play professional basketball, everything that was just said above for college basketball is true to an even greater extent. They have to work hard, have some natural talent, challenge themselves against the best competition they can find, and be passionate about the game of basketball. Only about 0.03% of high school players go on to play in the National Basketball Association (NBA), the best professional basketball league in the world. There are plenty of professional basketball leagues worldwide, but players still have to be some of the best to play in those leagues. In spite of everything, if kids start playing at an early age and truly love the game, they can find their way as a professional basketball player, whether it be in the NBA or somewhere else.

Safety Concerns

basketball knee pad

If a child is starting to play basketball, parents should know that there is some contact in the game. While it is a physical game at times, it is nowhere near as physical as a sport like football or rugby. Most of the contact comes within the flow of the game, and extreme physical contact is discouraged by the rules. One piece of equipment parents can buy to help protect their kids is a pair of knee pads. Players often end up on the ground during a basketball game, whether diving for a loose ball or getting fouled by an opposing player, and knee pads can protect a player’s knees from a hard fall.


How do I get my kid started in basketball?

The easiest thing to do to get your kid started playing basketball is to do some research and find out where and when the local league/camp is. These leagues and camps will often have online postings where you can sign your kid up to play. Additionally, you can buy them a basketball and a basketball hoop so that they can play on their own time in your driveway or backyard. If they are really young, a mini toy basketball hoop can be a good investment as well.

How old should my child be to play basketball?

As was mentioned before, children in the 3-5 age range are typically too young for organized basketball. It is more once kids are 6, 7, or 8 that they truly have the hand-eye coordination, upper body strength, and attention span to play and learn the game. Kids younger than this can still learn by playing with mini toy basketball hoops, as previously said. Still, generally speaking, parents should wait until their kids are in the 1st-2nd grade age range before starting organized basketball.

Can I teach my child basketball?

If you understand the rules of basketball or even have played previously, it is not hard to teach your child how to play the game. The three main skills to focus on are dribbling, shooting, and passing. These are the basic fundamentals of the game and a good starting point for young players. Moreover, a good way to teach your kid is to watch basketball be played on TV with them. Watching the best players play the game can be a great way for beginners to learn the sport.

How do I pick a basketball coach for my child?

A lot of the time, when you sign your child up for a league, you will not always have a say in who the coach is. The coaches in the league will decide who goes on which team, with many leagues featuring one team per town, and that is how the rosters are made. If a parent does have a say in the coach of their child, some characteristics they should look for are positive leadership, passion for the game, and an ability to communicate effectively. Coaches with these traits will often be able to help kids both learn and have fun at the same time.