It’s the start of a new basketball season and you’re just as anxious as your child. There’s always a push to do better than last season. If anything, your child has been thinking about the shots they missed, that time they should have passed the ball earlier, and so on.
If you’ve been around the basketball court for some time now, you may have heard your child’s coach tell them that they’ll only play as well as they have practiced, no more no less. That is a hundred percent true! But it’s hard to train right without the right equipment. Moreover, you can’t just forego some equipment and hope it works.
Here’s a list of basketball essential equipment for your child.
1. The Correct Basketball Size
What is the right basketball size? Is the basket always the same size? Until 2018, there were never any standard guidelines to answer these questions – each basketball organization played by its own rules. A child had to deal with a different set of circumstances in each league.
However, basketballs are like shoes. They are not a one-size-fits-all affair. An age-appropriate basketball helps a child to take control of the ball which boosts their skill development.
According to the official FIBA basketball rules (International Basketball Federation), the size and weight of the ball is different across different age groups. Check out this list.
- Men & boys aged 15 years and up use an official size 7 basketball, measuring 29.5” and weighing 22oz.
- Boys aged 12-14 and girls/women ages 12 & up use an official size 6 basketball, measuring 28.5” and weighing 20oz.
- Children aged 9-11 years should use the standard youth basketball. This is the official size 5, measuring 27.5” and weighing 17oz.
- Children aged 5-8 years should use a size 4 basketball measuring 25.5 inches and weighing 14oz
- Children aged 4-8 years old should use a size 3 basketball (known as a mini-basketball), measuring 22 inches and weighing 10oz
- Children aged 2-4 years – micro-mini basketball- should use a size 1 basketball measuring 16 inches and weighing 8oz.
- Toddlers between 0-4 years old should use a toy basketball size measuring 9-20 inches and weighing 1 to 5oz.
2. A Hoop
The standard rim size is 10 feet. If children had to work with this height, they’d only be working to throw the ball hard enough and not necessarily aiming to make a shot. That’s why coaches and basketball regulators agreed on reducing this height to help kids enjoy the game and develop their skills.
The basket should be 8 ft. off the ground for kids between 7-8 years and 9 ft. for ages 9-11 from the ground. This helps them shoot better and increases the opportunities to make better shots.
The basket in basketball can refer to the hoop or the act of shooting. According to Basketball Victoria, the basketball ring should be made of solid steel and have a minimum inside diameter of 450mm and a maximum of 459 mm.
To help players see and aim more precisely, an open net is attached to each ring in 12 places with gaps smaller than 8mm. Depending on the design, the basket is fixed on one or several legs, and the hoop can include a jack system to fold during dunks.
To accommodate the needs of younger kids and toddlers, manufacturers have adopted adjustable hoops and baskets to use outdoors or indoors. Some rims can be adjusted up to 2.5 ft. and are portable
3. The Right Shoes
It can be tempting to buy bigger shoes to accommodate the fast growth of children’s feet. But this works against them on the court. Bigger shoes invite sliding while small shoes can prevent foot growth. Running shoes are not designed for quick side movements and therefore don’t work.
The right basketball shoes are specifically designed to provide enough ankle support and great traction on the court. The midsoles of the shoes take on the most pressure and lose their ability to cushion your child’s feet fast.
The right treading supports fast side-to-side movements even in slippery indoor courts. The treat should be about an inch thick. Ensure you always buy fitting shoes even if it means buying a pair more often than you wish.
If your child plays 5 to 6 times per week, purchasing new shoes every 2-3 months is ideal. Buy replacement shoes every 4 to 6 months for those who play 2 to 3 times per week.
Experts say wearing shoes for an extended period of time puts a strain on the foot, leg, and related soft tissue and bone structures. The stress will eventually cause a fatigue injury, rendering the player unable to participate in his or her sport. You can significantly reduce overuse injuries by making regular shoe replacements.
4. A Team Uniform
A uniform is just more than a requirement. It builds a team spirit -a way of saying ‘we’re a team and we’re in this together’. It also helps to teach children discipline because they can’t just get on the court in whatever they like.
A basic basketball uniform features a loose sleeveless jersey, loose knee-length shorts and well-fitting shoes. When it comes to safety, the basketball uniform serves in the following ways.
The loose fit jersey and shorts make it easier to move unhindered. The right shoe size supports ankle movement, makes the player agile and prevents injuries.
A uniform gets the player’s mind off of what they’re wearing to the game. Additionally, the uniform helps in identifying the teams and offering support by wearing team jerseys. You can wear your child’s jersey to encourage them on the court.
5. A Quality Gear Bag
A basketball bag is essential for more than just carrying the ball. Most bags will have different compartments to allow your kid to carry their basketball,shoes, a change of clothes, their water bottle, phone and snacks.
With all these purposes, the last thing you need is a poor quality material or one that adds unnecessary weight to the bag. It should also be water-resistant and have quality zips and stitching.
Go for a comfortable bag. The straps should be padded, and help in distributing weight evenly across the body. A sternum strap which runs between the shoulder straps helps in providing extra comfort.
6. Protective Gear
You can’t promise your child a hundred percent injury-free basketball games but you can ensure they wear protective gear to prevent it. Apart from teaching them how to wear them correctly, you need to get the right gear including:
- Knee and elbow pads: These are designed to withstand falls. The exterior is typically hard and strong, almost always made of premium plastic. The interior is filled with padding made of impact-absorbing foam or the chemical called polyurethane.
- Mouth guard: A mouth guard is meant to protect against breaking or losing teeth in case of a fall.
- Braces. If your child has a history of accidents on the court, you can get bracing for protecting the ankles, knees and elbows.
- Eyewear: Sometimes the ball ends up hitting the face. Glasses or glass guards prevent injury to the eyes and cheeks.