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Thread: How should I teach my 6 year old to play basketball the "right" way?

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    Default How should I teach my 6 year old to play basketball the "right" way?

    For my 6 year old son's birthday, I bought him one of those portable 10 foot basketball hoops that you usually see in people's driveway. He has this love love for basketball and I wanted to cultivate this fascination beyond simply watching and playing it on TV while giving me a reason to drag him outside to get some sun when he's not in school. He's even went to some 1 day Warriors' Basketball camp ( which he absolutely loved ) and will be attending 2 more sessions in the fall.

    Despite him being 3'10" tall....when he started playing, I insisted that he start shooting around and practicing with the hoop set to 10 feet. My reasoning is that this is the standard height for all basketball hoops at high school, etc. Although I doubt that he has the genetics to ever play in high school ( I'm 5'6" but pray that he got some my Father-In-Law's height ), but because I wanted him to learn to shoot and play the "right way" ( something that I never did for any sport when I was his age )....I wanted him to be get used to playing at that height. Despite resisting his requests to lower it to 9 feet ( which I have lowered to 9'5" )....he's shown that he is capable of hitting the shot a few feet away from the basket. Although his shot isn't consistent....1/2 the time he clanks it off the front of the rim......my impression is that he's capable of hitting the basket at that height as many of his shots have enough height on the ball that I think that he simply has to get used to shooting at that height.

    I know that I'm being a total hard@ss when it comes to setting the hoop so high.....but am I approaching this the right way when it come to showing him how to play basketball?

    When it comes to basketball....I always try to teach him what little I do know ( mainly from what I have learned from here on PD on what we don't want certain Pacers Players to "do" and "not do" ) while showing him that it's not always about "taking and making" the last shot at the buzzer. Since many of you have had some Coaching experience on the Elementary and High School level....keeping in mind that I have ZERO exposure to how to really teach anybody how to play basketball....do you have any other suggestions on what I should try to show and teach him?
    Ash from Army of Darkness: Good...Bad...I'm the guy with the gun.

    This is David West, he is the Honey Badger, West just doesn't give a *****....he's pretty bad *ss cuz he has no regard for any other Player or Team whatsoever.

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    Default Re: How should I teach my 6 year old to play basketball the "right" way?

    The old saying goes, the range from the rim for any child to master should be no more than the child's age.

    I see no issue at all with a child practicing on a 10-foot rim, so long as he has the arm strength to shoot the ball that high with a proper shooting motion. If he's just hurling it up there, it doesn't do any good. Sometimes it's better to let a child shoot on a 9-foot rim with proper form and let him graduate to the 10-footer.

    As far as teaching the raw fundamentals to a 6-year old...that's very subjective. The issue is letting your kid master the basics of the game (dribbling, shooting, passing) before you start getting technical.

    The best advice I can give is to give proper guidance while keeping the game fun...so many parents I've seen try to be Larry brown right off the bat and it usually pushes their kid away from the sport they wanted to teach him.

    A game I've always suggested to parents is H-O-R-S-E, but within the range of the child's age. It's competitive, keeps things fun, and at the same time your kid is going to be practicing that mid-range shot night and day in order to beat his old man.
    Last edited by Kstat; 08-02-2010 at 01:32 PM.

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    Default Re: How should I teach my 6 year old to play basketball the "right" way?

    I've always been partial to the "Santini Method", myself!

    Hey! What're you kicking me for? You want me to ask? All right, I'll ask! Ma'am, where do the high school girls hang out in this town?

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    Default Re: How should I teach my 6 year old to play basketball the "right" way?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kstat View Post
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    The old saying goes, the range from the rim for any child to master should be no more than the child's age.

    I see no issue at all with a child practicing on a 10-foot rim, so long as he has the arm strength to shoot the ball that high with a proper shooting motion. If he's just hurling it up there, it doesn't do any good. Sometimes it's better to let a child shoot on a 9-foot rim with proper form and let him graduate to the 10-footer.

    As far as teaching the raw fundamentals to a 6-year old...that's very subjective. The issue is letting your kid master the basics of the game (dribbling, shooting, passing) before you start getting technical.

    The best advice I can give is to give proper guidance while keeping the game fun...so many parents I've seen try to be Larry brown right off the bat and it usually pushes their kid away from the sport they wanted to teach him.

    A game I've always suggested to parents is H-O-R-S-E, but within the range of the child's age. It's competitive, keeps things fun, and at the same time your kid is going to be practicing that mid-range shot night and day in order to beat his old man.
    I think this is the most important part of it. No matter what you decide to do with your boy make sure you keep it fun. As the poster said you do not want to be Larry Brown to him at such a young age. All that will do is turn him off to the sport. I stopped playing baseball when I was 8 because I got a little league coach that was like Larry Brown.

    I agree with Kstat. Use HORSE or PIG as a way to have fun with your kid while developing the range. He will just be happy to hang out with his dad and eventually the range will grow as he gets older.

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    Default Re: How should I teach my 6 year old to play basketball the "right" way?

    I'd lower the rim unless he has the strength to shoot with proper form on a 10-foot rim, which is doubtful. He could learn some bad shooting habits. I'd start at 8 foot and go up 6 inches every 6 months.

    Mix in drills with fun stuff like H-O-R-S-E, around the world, and 21. It will help if there are other kids his age in the neighborhood, because it will eventually get boring to him only playing vs. Dad.
    The poster "pacertom" since this forum began (and before!). I changed my name here to "Slick Pinkham" in honor of the imaginary player That Bobby "Slick" Leonard picked late in the 1971 ABA draft (true story!)

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    Default Re: How should I teach my 6 year old to play basketball the "right" way?

    Quote Originally Posted by Slick Pinkham View Post
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    I'd lower the rim unless he has the strength to shoot with proper form on a 10-foot rim, which is doubtful. He could learn some bad shooting habits. I'd start at 8 foot and go up 6 inches every 6 months.

    Mix in drills with fun stuff like H-O-R-S-E, around the world, and 21. It will help if there are other kids his age in the neighborhood, because it will eventually get boring to him only playing vs. Dad.
    I know thats how my dad taught me and the rest of the team, with the rim at 8 feet. First competitive games were on an 8 ft rim, then the next season we moved up to ten feet. Seemed to work pretty well as our high school is usually tops in the district and thats how everyone learned to play.

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    Default Re: How should I teach my 6 year old to play basketball the "right" way?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kstat View Post
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    The old saying goes, the range from the rim for any child to master should be no more than the child's age.

    I see no issue at all with a child practicing on a 10-foot rim, so long as he has the arm strength to shoot the ball that high with a proper shooting motion. If he's just hurling it up there, it doesn't do any good. Sometimes it's better to let a child shoot on a 9-foot rim with proper form and let him graduate to the 10-footer.

    As far as teaching the raw fundamentals to a 6-year old...that's very subjective. The issue is letting your kid master the basics of the game (dribbling, shooting, passing) before you start getting technical.
    He's doing that whole "Stephen Curry" follow through ( where he flicks his wrists ) whenever he shoots the ball. I'm not suggesting that it's good or great form...but I don't get the sense that he's "hurling" the ball up there. I'm not a good judge when it comes to form.....but he's getting the ball ( maybe half the time ) above the rim at 9.5 feet.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kstat View Post
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    The best advice I can give is to give proper guidance while keeping the game fun...so many parents I've seen try to be Larry brown right off the bat and it usually pushes their kid away from the sport they wanted to teach him.
    Yeah, that's ( sort of ) like me now.
    Ash from Army of Darkness: Good...Bad...I'm the guy with the gun.

    This is David West, he is the Honey Badger, West just doesn't give a *****....he's pretty bad *ss cuz he has no regard for any other Player or Team whatsoever.

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    Default Re: How should I teach my 6 year old to play basketball the "right" way?

    Quote Originally Posted by Skaut_Ech View Post
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    I've always been partial to the "Santini Method", myself!
    Ash from Army of Darkness: Good...Bad...I'm the guy with the gun.

    This is David West, he is the Honey Badger, West just doesn't give a *****....he's pretty bad *ss cuz he has no regard for any other Player or Team whatsoever.

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    Default Re: How should I teach my 6 year old to play basketball the "right" way?

    Quote Originally Posted by Slick Pinkham View Post
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    I'd lower the rim unless he has the strength to shoot with proper form on a 10-foot rim, which is doubtful. He could learn some bad shooting habits. I'd start at 8 foot and go up 6 inches every 6 months.

    Mix in drills with fun stuff like H-O-R-S-E, around the world, and 21. It will help if there are other kids his age in the neighborhood, because it will eventually get boring to him only playing vs. Dad.
    I know that form is important....but how should I guage the proper height to set the hoop at?

    He's has enough strength in his shot to get the ball above the rim most of the time at 9.5 feet. Does the logic hold ( in terms of shooting ) that if one can score at 9.5 feet that they should be able to do the same at something lower ( like 8 or 9 feet )?

    Most of the time...it's just me shooting the ball, he's rebounding ( or I'm simply passing it to him ) and trying to score off off of the rebound/pass. Some times, I try to mix it up where I tell him to dribble to a certain point...pass the ball to me...then have him run to another point where I will pass it to him....you know...some basic drill where he follows directions and knows what to expect.
    Ash from Army of Darkness: Good...Bad...I'm the guy with the gun.

    This is David West, he is the Honey Badger, West just doesn't give a *****....he's pretty bad *ss cuz he has no regard for any other Player or Team whatsoever.

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    I'm on a MAC! graphic-er's Avatar
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    Default Re: How should I teach my 6 year old to play basketball the "right" way?

    You need to teach him out to dribble. If he is gonna be short, then he gonna have to be a ball handler.

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    Default Re: How should I teach my 6 year old to play basketball the "right" way?

    Like this:


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    Default Re: How should I teach my 6 year old to play basketball the "right" way?

    The poster "pacertom" since this forum began (and before!). I changed my name here to "Slick Pinkham" in honor of the imaginary player That Bobby "Slick" Leonard picked late in the 1971 ABA draft (true story!)

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    Default Re: How should I teach my 6 year old to play basketball the "right" way?

    Quote Originally Posted by CableKC View Post
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    Most of the time...it's just me shooting the ball, he's rebounding ( or I'm simply passing it to him ) and trying to score off off of the rebound/pass. Some times, I try to mix it up where I tell him to dribble to a certain point...pass the ball to me...then have him run to another point where I will pass it to him....you know...some basic drill where he follows directions and knows what to expect.
    Honestly, I wouldn't be coaching him all that much. Kids want to have fun, and running drills with things set on what to do get in the way of "fun."

    Personally, I think you should lower the goal a bit. It's not about strength to get it there, it's about shooting the ball properly. He's going to develop so much phsyically in the next few years, and even moreso around puberty that it's not like he will develop muscle memory and hurt his shot later on in life.

    Lowering the goal not only allows him to shoot the ball correctly, it also lets him score more baskets from a wider range, which will encourage him to play more. It's like taking him to the batting cage and sticking him in the 70mph slot, and asking him to hit the ball because that's what older kids do. He might get the bat on the ball everyonce in a while, but it doesn't feed his sense of it being fun. It gets frustrating and boring, and that will cause negative feelings towards the sport.

    Lower it, let him have more options on what he wants to do. If you're going to set up drills, mask them. One day when you're at the computer, show him Reggie clips of hitting last second shots, and then later on when you're shooting around, ask if he remembers seeing it and ask if he wants to re-create the moment. I cringe at the word I'm about to use, but it is what it is. Kids are easily manipulated. You can manipulate him into doing drills by creating games around them. Keep it fun and light.

    He'll let you know when it's time to move on to the next step. Develop the attitude, the phyiscal part will come later.

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    Default Re: How should I teach my 6 year old to play basketball the "right" way?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kstat View Post
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    The old saying goes, the range from the rim for any child to master should be no more than the child's age.

    I see no issue at all with a child practicing on a 10-foot rim, so long as he has the arm strength to shoot the ball that high with a proper shooting motion. If he's just hurling it up there, it doesn't do any good. Sometimes it's better to let a child shoot on a 9-foot rim with proper form and let him graduate to the 10-footer.

    As far as teaching the raw fundamentals to a 6-year old...that's very subjective. The issue is letting your kid master the basics of the game (dribbling, shooting, passing) before you start getting technical.

    The best advice I can give is to give proper guidance while keeping the game fun...so many parents I've seen try to be Larry brown right off the bat and it usually pushes their kid away from the sport they wanted to teach him.

    A game I've always suggested to parents is H-O-R-S-E, but within the range of the child's age. It's competitive, keeps things fun, and at the same time your kid is going to be practicing that mid-range shot night and day in order to beat his old man.
    Whoa!!

    You shoot with your legs. If he doesn't have the leg strengh to get the ball up to a 10-foot rim then you should lower it. And if he's using his arms, you're eventually going to have to un-learn some bad habits.

    Even the fourth graders play on 8 foot rims. Which drove me crazy last season, because my daughter had already moved up to 8'6" and 9'0", and a couple of the taller/ more developed girls (always a wide divesity when it comes to fourth graders) were playing on ten foot goals except during the league. So our team fired a lot of shots over the top of the backboard. Ugh.

    The goals lower for a reason. And the reason is because its easiest to teach the proper technique to first time than it is to un-teach bad technique (even if the kid has an uncanny ability to make shots with bad technique, it won't last forever when opponents learn how easy it is to block shots that start at the hip) and re-teach good technique.

    Meanwhile, I've posted this before, but get Oscar Robertson's The Art of Basketball for teaching ballhandling and shooting skills and drills.

    At elementary school age, you can make the drills fun and make a game out of those. Unfortunately, I've done too much of that as my daughter would rather do the drills than play in a scrimmage (and like most fourth graders, looks lost on the court as she dribbles decently with either hand... right into the corner.) Another ugh!!
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
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    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
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    Default Re: How should I teach my 6 year old to play basketball the "right" way?

    Quote Originally Posted by CableKC View Post
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    I know that form is important....but how should I guage the proper height to set the hoop at?
    Start at 8 feet. When he's hitting nearly all of the shots and it isn't a challenge (not just getting the ball up there, but hitting the shots), then raise it six inches. Just like every other aspect of watching kids grow up, he'll be shooting at 10 feet soon enough.. too soon! Let him get some confidence along the way, too.

    PS, on my court/ driveway, I painted the FT-line hash marks too. So on a lowered rim, "Around the world" is the left low block, first left hash mark, middle of the lane, first right hash mark, right low block. No need to be firing up 10, 15, 20 footers for all the same reasons. As she progressed to a 10 foot rim, we have added the second left and right hash marks. That's still a work in progress.
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


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    Default Re: How should I teach my 6 year old to play basketball the "right" way?

    Quote Originally Posted by CableKC View Post
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    He's doing that whole "Stephen Curry" follow through ( where he flicks his wrists ) whenever he shoots the ball. I'm not suggesting that it's good or great form...but I don't get the sense that he's "hurling" the ball up there. I'm not a good judge when it comes to form.....but he's getting the ball ( maybe half the time ) above the rim at 9.5 feet.
    Check his elbow. It needs to be under the ball. He needs to jump straight up, not jumping toward the basket. Opposite hand barely on the ball for balance. Hold the ball in the strong hand using only the fingertips. Check the followthrough for back spin (get a multicolored ball for shooting so its easy to see the backspin.) Generally, if his hand is forming the gooseneck on the followthrough then its a good start.

    My D3 coaching friend teaches the following at his camp:

    BEEF - balance, eyes (looking up, at the back of the rim), elbow (under the ball), follow-through. He just walks around and repeats that all day long while kids shoot.
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


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    Default Re: How should I teach my 6 year old to play basketball the "right" way?

    Quote Originally Posted by ChicagoJ View Post
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    You shoot with your legs.
    Sam Perkins begs to differ.

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    Default Re: How should I teach my 6 year old to play basketball the "right" way?

    Quote Originally Posted by Slick Pinkham View Post
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    Wow....I couldn't even do that. Thanks for the video suggestion. You can't beat an 80s training video directly from Pistol Pete himself.
    Ash from Army of Darkness: Good...Bad...I'm the guy with the gun.

    This is David West, he is the Honey Badger, West just doesn't give a *****....he's pretty bad *ss cuz he has no regard for any other Player or Team whatsoever.

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    Default Re: How should I teach my 6 year old to play basketball the "right" way?

    Quote Originally Posted by Since86 View Post
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    One day when you're at the computer, show him Reggie clips of hitting last second shots
    As a Pacer fan that became one because of Reggie....you don't think that I haven't already shown him those clips yet

    Quote Originally Posted by Since86 View Post
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    and then later on when you're shooting around, ask if he remembers seeing it and ask if he wants to re-create the moment. I cringe at the word I'm about to use, but it is what it is. Kids are easily manipulated. You can manipulate him into doing drills by creating games around them. Keep it fun and light.

    He'll let you know when it's time to move on to the next step. Develop the attitude, the phyiscal part will come later.
    The "last second" shot is the one part that he loves to take. I'd shoot the ball....if it misses...I start counting down at 5 seconds ( much slower then normal ), he rebounds, dribbles the ball for a second then shoots the ball in hopes that the ball will drop with a second left.
    Ash from Army of Darkness: Good...Bad...I'm the guy with the gun.

    This is David West, he is the Honey Badger, West just doesn't give a *****....he's pretty bad *ss cuz he has no regard for any other Player or Team whatsoever.

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    Default Re: How should I teach my 6 year old to play basketball the "right" way?

    Quote Originally Posted by Day-V View Post
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    Sam Perkins begs to differ.
    ...so as long as his kid grows to be 6'11," he's okay....

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    Default Re: How should I teach my 6 year old to play basketball the "right" way?

    Thanks...again...for the suggestion.

    Quote Originally Posted by ChicagoJ View Post
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    Check his elbow. It needs to be under the ball. He needs to jump straight up, not jumping toward the basket. Opposite hand barely on the ball for balance. Hold the ball in the strong hand using only the fingertips. Check the followthrough for back spin (get a multicolored ball for shooting so its easy to see the backspin.) Generally, if his hand is forming the gooseneck on the followthrough then its a good start.

    My D3 coaching friend teaches the following at his camp:

    BEEF - balance, eyes (looking up, at the back of the rim), elbow (under the ball), follow-through. He just walks around and repeats that all day long while kids shoot.
    I'm having trouble picturing this part. The only way that I can get my right elbow under the ball is if I hold the ball all the way back to my right ear with my right elbow is above the level of the ball.

    I'm guessing this is wrong on my end. Is there any picture or video that demonstrates this so that I can get a better feel for this?

    Another thing.....right now, he's using a standard sized basketball. Should I switch to a smaller junior sized ball?
    Last edited by CableKC; 08-02-2010 at 07:05 PM.
    Ash from Army of Darkness: Good...Bad...I'm the guy with the gun.

    This is David West, he is the Honey Badger, West just doesn't give a *****....he's pretty bad *ss cuz he has no regard for any other Player or Team whatsoever.

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    Default Re: How should I teach my 6 year old to play basketball the "right" way?

    Here's the classic picture:



    Elbow under the ball. The hand is cupped and holding the ball with the fingertips. Left hand is optional. And yes, he didn't jump very high but he did jump and he used his legs.

    You should note that Reggie's technique wasn't picture perfect. Its one thing for a skinny player to develop a shot like Reggie's as a necessity. Its another thing to "teach" it.

    PS, what I mean is that the elbow should not be out to the side.

    Here's a good side view. I'm not endorsing their product, but you can see its potential usefulness if a kid develops a bad habit along the way...



    Good grief. This was incredibly hard to find, but an essential picture:

    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


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  32. #23
    Rebound King Kstat's Avatar
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    Default Re: How should I teach my 6 year old to play basketball the "right" way?

    the issue is that when you say "elbow under the ball,' most people take that to mean a perfect 90 degree angle.

    Just saying "make sure the elbow is not out to the side" is usually a better way of explaining it.

    Also, using a standard-sized basketball is always the preferable way to go. Even if you need to lower the rim 1-2 feet, so be it. At least he'll be using the same sized ball as he grows.
    Last edited by Kstat; 08-02-2010 at 07:16 PM.

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  34. #24
    Administrator/ The Real Jay ChicagoJ's Avatar
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    Default Re: How should I teach my 6 year old to play basketball the "right" way?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kstat View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    the issue is that when you say "elbow under the ball,' most people take that to mean a perfect 90 degree angle.

    Just saying "make sure the elbow is not out to the side" is usually a better way of explaining it.
    Okay, you tell that to all the shooting coaches out there.

    Meanwhile, look at the first three pictures in that ad. That looks close enough to a 90 degree angle for me. I didn't get out a protractor but its close enough.

    Here's another side view. In this case, the ball was just rolling off the fingertips (follow through hasn't happened yet) so the elbow is now somewhat behind the ball instead of directly under it. I'm not a big fan of this guy but I heard he was a good scorer:



    Addendum: Here's a better picture of it. Do you want to call that a ninety-degree angle?

    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


  35. #25
    Administrator/ The Real Jay ChicagoJ's Avatar
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    Default Re: How should I teach my 6 year old to play basketball the "right" way?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kstat View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    Also, using a standard-sized basketball is always the preferable way to go. Even if you need to lower the rim 1-2 feet, so be it. At least he'll be using the same sized ball as he grows.
    Its like we had different fathers or something. Mine coached sixth grade basketball/ sixth grade PE for a couple of decades and taught thousands of students how to shoot, dribble and pass. He'd say the opposite... as thier hands grow they can move into the larger size ball. If they can't control the ball with their fingertips (like Bird and Alford are doing in the pictures above) then the ball is too big. And yes, elementary school age kids can do these little things - when do you think Steve and Larry learned to do them? And if they can do them on a regulation-sized ball, great. If not, use a smaller one.

    (And yes, every time he visits, I get griped at that my daughter is using a WNBA-sized ball instead of a smaller one... even though she can control it on her fingertips.)
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


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