8 health benefits for kids from playing basketball

8 health benefits for kids from playing basketball
Photo: tortugadatacorp, Pixabay

Basketball is a popular team sport for children, that suits a range of ages and skill sets. This high-intensity sport enhances physical skills such as agility and coordination, and also helps to develop cognitive abilities including communication, cooperation and concentration. Here’s just a few of the health benefits that will have your family shooting hoops in no time!

Social skills

Basketball can be played as a competitive sport, or enjoyed as a casual game on the local court. Team sports like basketball offer children important opportunities to develop their social skills, and to build personal confidence. Getting involved with team sports also helps children to understand concepts such as winning and losing – along with the importance of teamwork and leadership.

Healthier hearts

Sports such as basketball can help your children to have healthier hearts. Whether they’re running, jumping or dribbling the ball – basketball requires cardiovascular endurance for improved heart health. Regular cardiovascular exercise is also particularly important for children who may spend longer sedentary periods in front of computers or screens.

Stronger bones

Basketball provides excellent interval training, as it balances short bursts of high-intensity activity with intermittent breaks. This type of training is ideal for building muscle strength, and supports the growth of healthy bones, ligaments and tendons. Whilst bone health should be promoted at every stage of life; childhood and young adulthood and considered crucial ‘bone building’ years.

Spatial awareness

Playing basketball is a great way to help kids develop overall spatial awareness. Spatial awareness is the ability understand objects in relation to each other, in terms of space and distance. Basketball encourages children to understand where they are positioned, in order to pass to their teammates, make a shot or play defensively. Well-developed spatial awareness can also assist with dexterity and balance.

Reduced stress

Exercise produces endorphins – ‘feelgood’ hormones that are associated with lowered pain and increased energy levels. For this reason, regular exercise is known to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and even depression. Participating in basketball can also help children to sleep more soundly, and to be less distracted during the day.

Cognitive thinking

Sport is sometimes described as ‘thinking in action,’ as it involves recalling, processing and judging information for effective problem-solving. Basketball requires children to observe their teammates and opponents, to make fast-paced decisions on the court. Cognitive thinking also requires children to understand and apply the rules of a game, keeping their minds focused and alert.

Aerobic fitness

According to health experts, children should undertake at least 60 minutes of aerobic activity every day. Fortunately, basketball requires lateral movements, running and jumping for an all-over aerobic workout. Practising drills and shooting hoops can burn around 300 calories every hour. Half a game spent on the court burns 558 calories per hour, whilst a full game burns a whopping 747 calories every hour!

Ankle stability

A sprained ankle is a common ailment amongst children, as they are still growing their motor skills and balance reactions. Basketball can improve ankle stability as the sport requires pivoting, turning and multidirectional running. Formal basketball coaching will also teach children safe ways to successfully block, pass and steal the ball, without injuring themselves or their teammates.

Health tips

  • No matter your age, it’s important to stretch your joints and muscles with a full body warm-up before hitting the court.
  • Stretching and cooling down after a game will also prevent future injury, and assist in your physical recovery.
  • Basketball is considered a high-intensity sport. Come prepared with plenty of water and fluids, so you can stay hydrated throughout the game.
  • Don’t forget a towel, hat and sunglasses if you’re playing outside or in warmer weather.
  • You don’t have to be part of a team to enjoy the advantages of basketball. Practice dribbling and bouncing a ball to develop your skills.
  • Basketball has many benefits for prolonged physical and mental health. Pick up a ball and start shooting some hoops with friends, for a fun and relaxed introduction to the sport.