What Age Should Kids Start Playing Sports?

When should your child start playing basketball? It’s a difficult question to answer and there’s many opinions out there. To determine whether your child should start playing, it’s a good idea to hear what professionals and other parents are thinking. It is also important to think about how playing can impact your child.

A Doctor’s View

If you’re really concerned about when your child should start playing, it’s probably a good idea to figure out what the professionals think. Medical professionals are generally in favor of children being active, but they warn that various sports require different levels of development. Your child is probably ready to run, swim, or play catch when he or she is very young. An organized sport like basketball though, isn’t going to come until later. A summer youth basketball league or a youth basketball camp might be fun at six, but you might want to wait for more in-depth basketball skills training or a real league until your child is after the age of ten.

Critics and Boosters

As with so many things related to parenting, you’re going to find a lot of arguments between supporters and opponents. There are some who want to start kids as early as possible, noting that they’ll get the chance to have once in a lifetime experiences when they’re young. On the other hand, there are people who think that starting kids young is just putting too much pressure on the child. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot that can be said to dissuade either side – and both sides have solid evidence to support their views.

The Difference in Leagues

Of course, there’s also a huge difference in how kids play sports. Experts already talk about the insanity that can surround kids’ sports at the higher end, but that doesn’t apply everywhere. Putting your seven year old in summer youth basketball is fine – just don’t make him or her play in front of scouts. It’s just as important to know the expectations for your child, as it is to know what sport your child is going to play.

Knowing Your Child

One of the best pieces of advice is that you have to know your child. Some children are ready to play sports earlier than others. If your child shows that he or she has good hand-eye coordination and is ready to play in a group, give him or her a chance to play. If your child isn’t interested, don’t be forceful. No matter what anyone else says, you can only start a child on a sport once ready to play.

There’s no real agreement on when a child can start playing sports. Doctors think team sports should start after age six, but some children are ready earlier and others are ready later. If you’re not sure when your child should start, try out a skills camp – it will give you a better idea of where he or she is developmentally.

Are AAU Teams Mandatory to be Recruited?

AAU basketball tournaments are the norm during the summer months. Many competitive high school basketball players find their way onto the roster of an AAU team. These teams definitely seek out the best talent because AAU coaches want to have the cream of the crop. These teams are constantly going from place to place, leading to greater exposure for a player, as well as picking up favorable training skills and networking.

Parents of student athletes might want to know if playing for an AAU team is truly necessary to be recruited. If the ultimate goal is to play college basketball, will skipping AAU hurt your respective chances?

There isn’t a simple definitive answer to how recruitment works. It’s a complex process and many coaches utilize different methods to find the best available players. Does that mean AAU basketball tournaments aren’t hotbeds for college coaches during the summer months? Of course not. There is way too much talent on the floor.

Does that mean your student athlete will get noticed just because they participate in AAU? They may or may not. Coaches may already know the players they are checking out when they travel to these tournaments. However, they may find other great athletes by accident. Not many will have the time to watch every game with multiple going on at the same time.

Here are some reasons why AAU basketball can help and some possible alternatives to consider.

Exposure

College coaches are aware that basketball talent will be available in masses at AAU basketball tournaments. Many will go to a tournament with several blue chip kids in mind. They may also have several other potential targets they want to see in person. AAU basketball isn’t as structured as the sport during the high school season. Coaches often utilize the AAU season to talk, network, and establish ties with recruits. They can assess talent to some degree, but that isn’t the bulk of their visit. An AAU basketball tournament is always a showcase of talent, which can be good or bad depending on who you ask.

Basketball Training Skills

AAU basketball teams have a bad reputation for not practicing that often during the summer months. Former NBA player and current coach Steve Kerr believes AAU teams aren’t doing the right things. AAU teams might work on game type situations and various basketball skills training. Some NBA players and former greats don’t think that training is enough. Kobe Bryant is among those. He thinks AAU sells short on teaching kids “the fundamentals of the game.”

An AAU team either hosts tournaments or travels to other destinations to play other AAU squads. Depending on a family situation, an AAU basketball experience could be costly.

Parents might opt for other options like basketball camps. Hoop Group has been providing such camps for decades. Players like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden have all participated in Hoop Group. Hoop Group offers fundamental learning lessons like ball handling and shooting camps, point guard school, and dead eye shooting factory. This might be an alternative to AAU based on skills methodology.

Networking

Networking is a valuable part of the recruiting process. Kids and parents are anxious to meet coaches and get an assessment of their talent. They want to get that pat on the back and feel good about their abilities. They want to understand if they can play college basketball. An on the spot critique can be invaluable.

What often gets lost in the shuffle is the ability to network with coaches. AAU tournaments don’t always offer the greatest atmosphere to introduce yourself to coaches. They may be watching intensely with a chart and pen. They may also be talking and spending time with various AAU coaches or the players they covet. College coaches might also be hanging out with one another and conversing as well.

It’s hard to interrupt and get that quality one on one time or even make an introduction. It’s important for young athletes to figure out a way to network before tournaments.

An alternative might be to create your own “online resume” during the summer months. Parents and student athletes may want to create a social media presence which includes highlights, statistics, and future schedules. They may also want to have a video reel available by hard copy they can deliver to the coach. That reel should consist of an edited three to four minute montage of the best plays of that player. A point guard’s video would be drastically different from a power forward’s video because they should showcase their passing ability. A center’s video would be completely different from a two guard, etc. The video needs to have the player spot shadowed throughout so coaches don’t have to guess which player they are assessing.

Overall, AAU basketball gives kids the opportunity to compete and get more potential exposure from coaches. Those wanting to improve specific basketball skills over the summer months may want to consider camps in addition to playing AAU. They’ll get more individual coaching and the opportunity to work on more fundamentals so they can excel during the next high school season. AAU will give your student athlete an amazing amount of repetition on the floor. The big question parents should be asking is will it give my child the valuable basketball fundamentals they need leading into their next school year.

A Parent’s Guide to Sports Recruitment

We all realize our standout basketball player might not be the next Michael Jordan. He or she may never make it to the professional ranks since only a limited amount of basketball players do get that opportunity.

The good news is that many stellar high school basketball players get the chance to have their college education paid for. Being able to play basketball at the collegiate level is something only very skilled and talented players get the opportunity to do.

Parents often wonder how the recruitment process works. How do I get my son or daughter noticed? How can I get my child’s education paid for considering they have some serious skills on the hardwood?

Getting the right amount of spotlight could be pivotal in helping your son or daughter land that scholarship. This  attention might allow coaches from different, elite collegiate basketball programs the chance to see if your student athlete has what it takes to play at the next level.

So how do you do that?

Exposure

Exposure is generally higher during the summer months when coaches have an opportunity to step away from their college teams. Basketball exposure camps are usually filled with elite athletes who are already getting looked at by coaches. It’s no secret that college coaches thrive in this atmosphere during the summer months on the recruiting trail. If you want to get recruited, go to where the most talented players in the region or country are.

Hoop Group hosts college elite basketball camps. 128 current NBA players have dribbled up and down our floors. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are just a few of the top notch NBA talents to participate in Hoop Group. The organization, founded in 1963, also draws strong praise for tournaments around the country.

Another good exposure route is playing AAU basketball. While it’s been criticized for just being a showcase for individuals wanting to get recruited, AAU basketball has been around for years, and college coaches are aware of the talent for these types of travel teams. The only hitch is not everyone makes an AAU team. Your student athlete will need to have serious skills to get minutes in the game. However, the exposure from these travels teams during the summer months is outstanding. A college coach can go to an AAU tourney and see 16-32 teams or more in one setting.

Game Tape Reel

A game tape reel is essential for athletes wanting to show coaches where they might fit in their potential next team. A game tape should include three to four minutes of edited video with a spot shadow showing the player at the inception of the play. There are companies that can help parents edit videos at a cost with the entire recruiting process in mind. College coaches need to see the player, position, and what they can potentially deliver to their squad. Video is being used more now than ever in the recruiting world. It keeps college coaches from traveling extensively and allows them to assess talent via phone or desktop. Parents might want to have an online video and a hard copy (DVD) to present to coaches.

Academic Eligibility

Parents also need to make sure their student athletes are qualified academically. This process starts freshman year of high school. Every grade counts and it can be very difficult to raise a lower GPA. Parents will want to emphasize very early the importance of good grades if their prospective athletes wish to play collegiate hoops. Generally, students need to have a 2.5 GPA or higher to play at the next level, but requirements differ per individual school and level. For instance, eligibility requirements are different for NCAA and NAIA. Students also need to score well on standardized tests like the SAT or ACT. There is prep available for both online. For the NCAA, it’s also important to understand which core classes you’ll need from the start of freshman year.

Web Presence

Recruiting also involves having a web presence. In the digital age, players who have a strong online profile will have an advantage over players who don’t. This should house all relevant information for the student athlete like height, weight, statistics, awards, videos, and grades. Companies allow student athletes to build a recruiting page that college coaches can easily visit. This allows the coach to quickly assess a student athlete.

The bottom line is the athlete will need to put a ton of work in to be considered. Only a certain number of basketball players get to compete after high school. The most important thing is to work hard, develop fundamentals, and concentrate on overall improvement. Playing against high caliber competition is also a must for those wanting to play college basketball. That’s why elite basketball camps offer that extra exposure and the chance to play in front of potential college coaches. Taking care of grades, building a presence, and participating in events and tournaments during the summer months can also add a significant advantage.

5 Things to Look for in a Basketball Camp

What’s in a basketball camp? Do you want to learn fundamentals? Does your child need individual coaching or just exposure? Do you want someone to let your child win every game? NBA all-star Kevin Durant isn’t buying that. It’s all about a coach being up front with a basketball player about his or her ability. It’s about coaching and exposure.

Hopefully, a great basketball camp offers that and more. Good camps are run by professionals who seek to not only help the student athlete get better at hoops, but also get much needed exposure.

Here are 5 things to look for when selecting your next basketball camp.

Individual Coaching

Each basketball player deserves to have his or her own unique skill set examined; one size doesn’t always fit all. LeBron James is a different player than James Harden. Kyrie Irving is a different point guard than Jason Kidd. Good summer basketball camps have a good coach- to- player ratio so everyone’s abilities are addressed. The fortunate thing about basketball is that every player needs certain skills. Dribbling, guarding, and passing are universal languages coaches speak and teach. However, college elite basketball camps offer coaching that allows individuals to step up their game by addressing specific issues or problem areas. Tackling these could help the player advance to the next level. Basketball clinics for high school students should have universal drills but also provide individual mentoring.

Coaches With Experience

College elite basketball camps typically sport coaches on their roster with college experience. This way, the coach can provide high school athletes with what they need to know and do to get better. A good coach can have years of coaching experience or might have never coached but just played the game. However, not every former college basketball player can coach. It’s important as a parent to seek out college basketball camps that hone in on skills and offer improvement from the status quo. A high school basketball player can get rudimentary skills and fundamentals from a high school coach. The expectations from a college coach or player will typically be different. The game is intense and involves more competition; players need to adjust accordingly. That’s where coaches with experience really come in.

Other Elite Athletes

Basketball clinics for high school students are abundant. A parent has many choices. One thing that makes a camp stand out is better competition. More elite athletes at the camp can really let a student athlete know what he or she has to do to get better. Great basketball players love competition because they learn to value hard work. It doesn’t hurt to include other athletes. This way, the athletes get the opportunity to self assess. They also get to learn moves, fundamentals, and aspirations of others who may be more advanced. This provides more motivation to learn and enhances the overall atmosphere.

Great Networking Connections

Let’s face it. Sometimes it is about who you know. This is true, especially with athletes. Great summer basketball clinics offer the athlete an opportunity to network with other players and coaches. Coaching is a small fraternity. It’s crucial to get to know other kids who are being recruited and be in an environment with players who have already committed. Coaches will visit basketball exposure camps if other great athletes are around. This is an opportunity to network with or present your skills in front of them. Some camps have multiple coaches in attendance for additional benefits.

Drills and Fundamentals

Basketball exposure camps sometimes get caught up in the exposure end of things. Let’s not forget that at the end of the day, sports clinics are meant to be about learning and practicing. As a parent, you want your student athlete to be in a challenging but appropriate environment. The money spent on camps isn’t just for getting noticed. It’s for taking away skills you can use on the basketball court in the future. A great basketball camp features necessary drills taught by great coaches who have vast collegiate experience.

Whether your main goal is exposure or strictly fundamentals, choosing the right camp can be difficult. A great basketball camp offers an incredible combination of the five ingredients listed above.

Crucial Physical and Psychological Skills You Gain through Basketball

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Playing organized sports such as basketball can provide a huge number of benefits to children. Through basketball skills training and games, children can develop a wide range of physical and psychological traits that can serve them well throughout their life, ensuring that they become a more well-rounded person and that they are better able to handle the stresses and complications they face in the real world. In this way, playing basketball and attending basketball training camps can be one of the best things your child can do, as it will teach them all of the following skills.

Knowing the Value of Hard Work and Dedication

Playing basketball or any other sport requires countless hours of practice, constantly working to improve your physical and mental skills. In this way, basketball can help teach a child about the importance and value of hard work. Basketball clinics and live games can teach a child that nothing in life comes for free and you always have to be willing to work to get what you want.

Mental Toughness

Playing poorly, suffering abuse from opposing players and fans, and losing games are things basketball players must learn to deal with and not let discourage them. This means basketball is also great for improving mental toughness and how to overcome adversity. The mental side of basketball is easily as important as the physical; which is why most basketball skills training and basketball clinics focus heavily on mental aspects, in addition to physical skills.

Staying Calm Under Pressure

Those last few minutes of a basketball game are often an extremely high-pressure situation. There’s nothing like lining up for a potentially game winning free throw or hitting a last-second buzzer beater to teach a person about the importance of staying calm under pressure.

Team Work

Being able to work effectively in a team is a hugely important life skill, and nothing can teach a person this skill better than team sports. Even if you’re the best player on your team, you will still need to be able to play as part of a team in order to stand a chance of winning. As Michael Jordan once famously said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”

Flexibility

On the physical side of things, basketball is a fantastic activity for growing bodies due to the fact that it teaches the importance of flexibility along with physical strength. No matter whether you’re a seven-foot tall center or a five-foot tall point guard, quickness and flexibility are always going to be key attributes. This is precisely why most youth basketball training camps place a special focus on improving a child’s flexibility and not just their strength and conditioning. In this way, basketball is often seen as a better activity for kids than football or other sports that tend to rely more on brute strength.

Improved Strength

Of course, strength is still important for a basketball player. The countless hours in the gym, lifting weights and running around the court, are guaranteed to make a person stronger and more physically fit, which is just another one of the many benefits basketball can provide.

Better Stamina

All that running around will also help to improve a person’s stamina as well. This has huge, direct benefits for a person’s cardiovascular and respiratory system.

At the end of the day, playing any sport will provide many mental and physical benefits. However, the fact that basketball is fairly low contact and generally safer than football, hockey and other sports, makes it an ideal choice for teaching children important psychological and physical skills that will surely serve them well in their future lives.