Top 10 sports for kids to play
A basketball hoop features in many American romantic comedies, teen flicks and college movies. It is attached to the front of the family garage roof so dribbling can be done on the suburban driveway. Although Aussie kids are very sporty, the transition from English sports, cricket, netball, tennis, rugby and one of the football codes often squeeze out the basketball ring. Perhaps it is the vast sports fields, beaches, lakes, rivers, swimming pools and sports specific courts and facilities located in local communities that sees parental taxies make dozens of child-centred trips across suburbs and cities.
Since the second world war, the US has featured as gold medallists in the men’s and women’s game, ahead of any other nation. However, the sport is very popular in South America, Eastern Europe, Italy and Australia. Russian teams have featured as silver medallists at the Olympics in both divisions.
Why So Popular?
Surprisingly, there are four key factors.
- International success providing great role models
- Local accessibility to facilities, in both city and rural regions
- At home or at the park ease of access to practice spaces
- Language and the links to the “Commonwealth”, in particular the Commonwealth games.
Champion Role Models
Sponsors of teams and individuals take the role model, image and brand of players very seriously. They recognise how important a role model is to the next generation of players and the impact on attracting young players to the sport. Social misbehaviour, poor on field performance, participation in training, developmental engagements such as teaching school children, special events with cancer kids or differently abled people are promoted to encourage children not only to play the sport, but to see the benefits of being a champion in it.
An excellent physical education activity is to develop a culture of sport for good, which promotes role models and examines their lives and input to society. This is of course a subject bridging activity that may examine any aspect of health and well being and people in society. Such a platform in netball or basketball makes the activity very personal and may grow with the child. What’s in a role models lunchbox is great for younger students, whilst the psychology of body image and peer group pressure may form a stage 6 (Year 11-12) unit.
Locally Accessible Facilities
Netball and basketball require a hoop and either a grass or turf pitch or concrete or asphalt surface if outdoors, or a timber floor indoors for higher level competition or areas where year round weather doesn’t allow for outdoor play.
Many rural towns feature several sporting facilities. A swimming pool, a football oval that doubles as a cricket pitch, and a tennis / netball and basketball area. It is not uncommon to find half-court basketball hoops at local parks or playgrounds and for gyms to be fitted out in such a way that basketball, netball, volleyball, table tennis, badminton and indoor cricket or soccer occupy the same space.
The Ability to Practice Locally
Instead of sitting at the local shops, teens with access to basketball hoops setup their own game zones. Rules are bent, modified or adapted to suit the venue, players and even the time of day. The most important thing is children are actively playing and developing dribbling, passing, shooting and social interaction of their chosen game. Role model names are used to identify players, scoring may be carried forward from day to day. Countless hours may be spent with singular focus: the game. The team. The skills.
The aerobic health benefits and total body workout in a non-contact setting carries forward to children’s adult lives whilst the friendship bonds may extend across family and social groups.
Physically the development of dodging and awareness, speed and agility are applicable in many areas of sport and life. Total coordination is a mental ability that is vital in school work and society. As often as not, an excess of players provide the audience who learn to appreciate others performance.
The Role of Language in Netball and Basketball Participation
The language of netball is English. Basketball developed in the US became the favourite of colleges nationwide due to its indoor nature during winter snow seasons. Both sports are taught, played and umpired in English. Migrants to the US or Australia learn the sport and the language simultaneously. Learning by doing, or action based learning underpins the sports in the school setting. A child doesn’t after all, have to have the complete English language and vocabulary to understand imperative verbs used on the court. “Run”. “Sub”. “Foul”. “Travel”. “Offside”.
The nature of team sport is further divided into the roles of individuals. Netball positions are labelled with players wearing bibs with their position on them. This allows umpires to see who is where, who is offside or out of their zone. Basketball has less clearly defined on court positions, but roles are defined on a skill set.
It is clear that these great team sports are here to stay, as more women play basketball, and netball is played by more men and in mixed teams. They are sports that will not only provide childhood fun, but the lure of national or international competition always knocks in the not too distant future.
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Ryan Williamson is a gymnastics and movement expert.
His personal experience of slipping through education's cracks gives him an unmatched passion to ensure his 3 young children learn in using methods that suit them. He has developed gymnastics based programs to improve academic test scores, numeracy, literacy and creative thinking. Read Ryan's story - above *My Story*