BASKETBALL ACTIVITY CARD
Parts of the Body Worked
Heart & Lungs
Upper & Lower Legs
Knees & Ankles
Just what does it take to become a basketball star?
A Basketball. Basketballs come in different sizes depending on your age and whether you’re a girl or boy. There are also different basketballs for inside and outside use. If you’re buying a new basketball, make sure you ask the salesperson for help to figure out what size and type ball you need.
A Hoop. Basketball hoops are available in most gyms and in many parks. You can even buy a hoop and attach it to the side of your house or garage, if you have one. To create your own regulation court at your house, make sure you set your foul line 15 feet from the backboard.
Play it Safe
Basketball can really make you work, so make sure you stretch and warm up before playing. Because of all of the quick moves and jumping, it can put a lot of wear and tear on your ankles, so protect them by wearing the right pair of shoes — medium or high tops do the best job of supporting your ankles. Protect those knees by learning how to cut, stop, and land a jump safely.
Be careful not to misuse basketball equipment. It’s great if you’ve got the skills to put up a mean slam dunk, but hanging on the rim is dangerous and could cause you to get hurt. Also, make sure the court and sidelines are clear of any obstacles such as other basketballs or water bottles. If you’re playing outside, make sure the baskets and sidelines are not too close to walls, fences, or bleachers and there are no holes on your court.
If you’re a serious player, you may want to invest in a mouth guard to keep your teeth safe from flying elbows; knee and elbow pads so you don’t get scraped up (especially if you’re playing on an outdoor court); and sports glasses to protect your eyes.
How to Play
Basketball is fun to play in pick up games in the yard with your pals, or you can join an organized league. Different positions rely on different skills — point guards should focus on their dribbling and passing, while centers and forwards should be powerful rebounders and shooters. Outside guards need to be quick and strong to make those 3-point shots. Want some basics?
How to Dribble. Bounce the ball on the floor with your strongest arm. When it bounces back, use your fingertips to stop the upward motion and push it back to the floor, keeping it about waist high when it bounces. Once you’ve mastered dribbling in place with one hand, switch to the other and begin to move around as you dribble. Practicing dribbling by moving the ball in a figure eight between your legs is one good way to build your skills.
How to Pass the Ball. Face the person you’re passing to, with your head up and knees slightly bent. Spread your fingers wide and hold the ball at chest level, elbows out. Extend your arms, take a step toward the person you’re passing to, and snap your wrists forward and up as you release the ball.
How to Shoot a Layup. Start about 10 feet in front of and to the right of the basket. Dribble toward the basket, timing it so that your last step is with your left foot. Holding the ball with both hands (left in front, right in back), jump off your left foot, let go with your left hand, and extend your right arm fully to release the ball at the top of your jump. Keeping your eyes on where you want the ball to go really helps land this shot!
How to Cut, Stop, and Land a Jump. Ease up on your cuts or pivots by making them less sharp to avoid rotating your knees. When stopping, rather than coming to a sudden stop or bringing your weight down on one foot with a single step, use the “stutter step” to slow yourself down by taking two extra steps. When landing your jumps, do it softly by bending your knees over your feet (which should be pointed straight ahead) when you hit the ground. Instead of landing flat-footed, land on either the balls or toes of your feet and rock back toward your heels.
Did you ever wonder how Michael Jordan seems to hang in the air longer than everyone else when he goes up for a slam dunk? Well, actually, he doesn’t — it just seems that way because MJ holds on to the ball longer than most players before shooting or dunking. Hang time depends entirely on the force generated by a player’s legs when he or she leaves the ground (how hard they push off the ground) and the jump’s height (the higher the jump, the longer the hang time). The average NBA player can make a 3-foot high jump when going up for a shot or dunk, with a hang time of less than 1 second (.87 seconds to be exact).
Former pro, Wilt Chamberlain, once scored 100 points in a single NBA game.
Michael Jordan was cut from the varsity basketball team when he was in the 10th grade — and went on to be the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for 5 seasons!
The Louisiana Tech women’s basketball team has an overall won-lost record of 768-128. That means they’ve won over 85% of their games!
- Page last reviewed: May 9, 2015
- Page last updated: May 9, 2015
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