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How to Teach Young Children to Shoot a Basketball

Updated on September 10, 2017
Coach_Pickles profile image

Foremost expert in early learning in sports, Founder at Jelly Bean Sports, Father of 4, Masters in Human Relations, Educational Doctorate.

Introduction

Pizza is a kid-favorite. "What does pizza have to do with basketball," you ask?

In the U.S., we, as parents, serve it every week and often multiple times a week. Children, by default, have come to understand it as just a part of life. Inside the limited knowledge young children have overall, it can be something as simple as pizza that can offer them a connection to basketball that makes teaching them easier.

It seems so simple but it is an example of how to effectively teach young children to shoot a basketball. Without help, it can be tricky to fix young children's thinking in a way that works so they remember. In this hub, the goal is to keep sports simple and make learning fun. I set you up for coaching success as I share our shooting process and the fundamental movements to keep in mind when teaching young children how to shoot a basketball.

Basketball Prep

Girl holds pizza
Girl holds pizza | Source

The educator's problem is to protect the spirit of inquiry, to keep it from becoming blasé from overexcitement, wooden from routine, fossilized through dogmatic instruction, or dissipated by random exercise upon trivial things

— John Dewey, Human Development Expert

How to Teach Young Children to Shoot a Basketball Teaching Video

Secure in the knowledge that an adult is available to help if needed, a child solves problems and develops an "I can do it" attitude about herself.

— Dr. Brad Kayden, Early Learning in Sport Development Expert

3-Step Shooting Instruction

Shooting kept simple
Shooting kept simple | Source
Kids shooting basketballs
Kids shooting basketballs | Source
Passing Made Simple
Passing Made Simple | Source

Poll

Does your child shoot like he is passing?

See results
Shooting instruction, the Pizza Position
Shooting instruction, the Pizza Position | Source

Shooting Kept Simple, Learning Made Fun

I invite you to try the Jelly Bean Way with your early learners. It offers a fun 3-step teaching approach that even includes a fun video aid that you can share with them that is often a difference maker that will help young children seed the learning.

If you like this Hubpage, I invite you to check out my others and to follow me to receive all the latest updates, coaching information and instructional resource on early learning in sports.

Thanks for the visit, enjoy the content! ~Brad a.k.a Coach Pickles :)

Lesson Overview

Teaching Time: 5 Minutes

Equipment: Miniature basketball

# of Steps: 5

Ages Appropriate for: 2.5 years +

Level of Instructional Difficulty: Medium

Keywords and Phrases: shooting, pizza position, ear of the basketball

Teaching Objectives

Parent/coach will:

  1. better understand how young children think about sports
  2. better understand how to modify teachings to fit the ways young children think about sports
  3. keep sports simple
  4. make learning fun

Teach Young Children to Shoot a Basketball Coaching Video

The Assessment

As a matter of warm-up and timeout for a period of decompression from learning, I will usually let the children shoot for one minute increments several times throughout a class.

Shooting for one minute increments gives me time to interact with kids on a one-on-one basis. I get to know who they are. For some kids it is just about getting them to open up and seeing me as someone they don't need to be afraid of. For other children, it can be a time when they tell me a little about themselves and we interact on topics that have nothing to do with basketball or what we are working on. Still others, this is a time to be silly, goof around a little bit and show them that I can be like a kid to.

While not an assessment in the truest sense of the word, it is, when working with young children, a way to get to better know my audience. Young children love to shoot and by allowing them to do more of what they love to do, they allow me to do more of what I love to do and that is teach them in simple and fun ways.

Boy holds foam pizza
Boy holds foam pizza | Source
Fielding made simple
Fielding made simple | Source

Shooting Made Simple, Learning Made Fun

Boy in basketball shooting position
Boy in basketball shooting position | Source
Boy balancing a basketball on one hand
Boy balancing a basketball on one hand | Source

Shooting a Basketball: Coaching Script

Step 1

Line children up on a line. They can start with a basketball but tell children to squeeze the basketball between their feet.

Step 2

Next, ask the simple question, "What are some of your favorite foods?" Spend two minutes fielding answers.

This is a simple question everyone knows the answer to; always be sure, however to get everyone's input; it is the first step to achieving buy-in to both you and your coaching.

This question and conversation, as a whole, is less about you and more about the children. You, in this case, are just facilitating and the children are actively contributing to the learning process.

Step 3

At some point pizza is said. The next step is to ask, "Who said pizza?" Instead of rushing into the instruction you strive for further buy-in by asking children, "What comes on top of a pizza?" They might simply answer, "Toppings," and if they do then ask, "What is your favorite topping?"

Again more opportunity for children to critically think about who they are and what they like. Early learning in sport requires coaches be more kid-centric than sport-centric. Young children like what they like and if they are going to like playing sports it is going to be because they, personally, connect with it not because of the breadth of sports knowledge we possess as coaches.

In the end, it is not about impressing parents of early learners with how much we know about sports or our wide ranging sports experiences. They most care about how well you, as an adult, connect with their child.

Asking your next two questions will lead you into the instruction, "Who has eaten pizza in a restaurant before?"

Step 4

Ask, "How do servers in the restaurant hold the pizza when they bring it to your table?" Amazingly, most of the class will show you some variation of holding a tray. This, conveniently, is known, from this point forward, as the Pizza Position.

Of course, it is otherwise, called the shooting position, but REMEMBER to really teach young children you have to build a connection between their limited knowledge of the world and the new knowledge they need to learn.

As you demonstrate a bent elbow and cocked wrist, explain, "This is our pizza position. It is the same way as severs in the restaurant carry the pizza from the kitchen to your table."

Step 5

Before starting with a basketball, start by carrying a dot or something else lightweight (i.e. a piece of paper). It will represent a pizza and allow for children to balance and practice shooting with good form prior to using a mini-basketball.

Finish by using a basketball but understand that they are cumbersome in young children's hands. The younger the child the more difficult it will be for them to manage. Hence, it is the reason why so much time is spent with fun basketball alternatives like foam pizzas.

Coach teaches shooting position.
Coach teaches shooting position. | Source

Advanced Instruction-The Booger Finger

"I typically promote a hands-off approach to coaching. However, sometimes young children struggle to get their hand positioning right. This means their elbow is 90 degrees, palm up and fingers aimed backwards. It is the last part, palm up and fingers aimed backwards that young children struggle with. It is awkward and feels unnatural to them.

At this point, it is necessary to help them simply rotate their hand around so their fingers are aimed at their nose."

Booger Finger

Hold up your index finger and ask parents and children, "What is this?" As children will tell you, it is a pointer finger or the number one. Parents will tell you it is the index finger. You should kindly agree with all of them and tell them they are right, but say, "It is something else too, what is it?"

When you've exhausted their resolve, Ask, "Isn't it your booger finger too?" This will inevitably evoke a smile.

Here and again you are building instruction by talking on a child's level and engaging them in ways they understand and that will help maintain their focus longer.

Ask them to put their pizza tray up and make sure that their booger finger is pointing towards their nose. You might say, "Towards your nose, not in your nose." Most kids get how to hold a tray but fifty percent of the time the fingers on their shooting hand are usually pointing the wrong direction.

I typically promote a hands-off approach to coaching. However, identifying the booger finger is awkward for some young children. They sometimes struggle to get their hand right and it is necessary for us to simply rotate their hand around. one time when another hands-off approach you can use to correct them as they get tired and their form slips. Essentially, what this instruction is promoting is self-directed learning.

As they raise their pizza tray and point their booger finger at their nose, this is when you can tell them you are going to give them their pizza next. Walk behind them and ask them individually, "What is your favorite pizza?"

Kids, at this point, are anxious to get their pizza (a.k.a. the basketball).

Before they get their pizza, they must tell you the type of pizza they like (i.e. cheese, mushroom, etc.) and the magic word, "Please!"

You will say, "What kind of pizza for you?" They will say for example, "Cheeeese Pleeeze!" As you will remember the basketball, at this point, is still between their feet. Pick it up and place it on their tray. When everyone has their pizza go back around the front of them and check their pizza position and booger finger and commence shooting the basketball in a small hoop.

At the end of the exercise, it is about you, the parents and the children enjoying the process of teaching young children how to shoot a basketball.

Instructional Reminders

  1. Have patience.
  2. Use a hands off approach to teaching.
  3. Don't over-coach. Encourage through gentle instruction
  4. Inspire children with positive feedback that builds confidence, improves listening, and promotes emotional maturity.

© 2008 Dr Brad Kayden

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    • profile image

      Liza 8 years ago

      Iam not mom of 3 boys and i wanted to play basketball with my kids could you please add some more photos of how to play basketball frankly i never play basketball myself but i want to give it a try base . thanks!

    • Puglucy profile image

      Puglucy 8 years ago from Indiana

      Very interesting approach... I'm looking for something that will help the age group 9-11. Those kids that aren't strong enough to use correct form either need a shorter rim or some other way to learn correctly until they grow.

    • Coach_Pickles profile image
      Author

      Dr Brad Kayden 8 years ago from Atlanta, GA / Chicago, IL

      Mohara,

      I am glad you liked it. I use this instruction often and it never seems to amaze me how effective it is at capturing young children's attention and at helping them reach peak potential. Thanks for your comment, it was very nice of you.

      Sincerely,

      Coach Pickles

    • profile image

      mohara 8 years ago

      What a great way to teach kids so that they understand!!!

      Awesome!

    • profile image

      how to increase vertical 8 years ago

      Good hub here with plenty of tips on keeping kiddies entertained.Thanks for sharing the ideas..Its really a pertinent info..Thanks for the great Hub!Such a cool and nice to glance up this site