Are your basketballs too big?

Since summer is here, you might be spending more time working with the youth players, which is why I thought it would be perfect timing for the following message:

Let's talk about a small detail that often goes unnoticed but has a surprising impact on your players' long-term development and enjoyment of the game...

I had the privilege of coaching both my sons' 2nd/3rd grade and 4th/5th grade teams this past year.

And during my time with them, I noticed a problem:

The size of the basketballs we were using!

Believe it or not, both teams were playing with 28.5-inch basketballs, the official size for women's professional basketball.

To put that in perspective, the average height of a WNBA player is almost 6 feet tall!


The late Bob Bigelow used to demonstrate this quite simply. He'd simply have adults attempt to play basketball with an 8-pound medicine ball that bounces. That's about the equivalent of having these kids play with basketballs that are too big!

While I believe in the importance of challenging your players, my experience was that most of the second and third graders couldn't even get the much larger ball to the rim from 10-12 feet away.

We had multiple kids on the team that didn't score a goal all season.

And this concerned me as I thought about how this would affect their long-term development and enjoyment.


Because kids need two vital elements to remain engaged in basketball:

Fun and success.

And let's face it, they have a lot more fun when they can actually score the basketball!

Without it, we're asking too much of them and setting them up for failure.

Youth teams should be scoring AT LEAST 50 or 60 points per game... not these 24-14 scores at the end of the game.

And as I saw this year, they started chucking the ball, twisting their bodies, and developing terrible shooting habits-primarily because the ball was too big!

As coaches, we must consider more than just the Xs and Os.

We need to prioritize our players' long-term development and their enjoyment of the game.

By creating an environment where they experience success, we not only nurture their skills and passion but also build a solid foundation of proper fundamentals and confidence that extends far beyond the court.

So, if you notice your young players struggling, consider adjusting the size of the basketball to better suit their abilities.

And while you're at it, do what the rest of the world has done to improve skill development and close the performance gap... lower the hoops to 8 feet and 9 feet. Wait until middle school to play on a 10-foot hoop!

By doing so, you'll nurture their skills and passion in a way that sets them up for success in the long run.

Here are two helpful articles you can read more about when it comes to youth basketball recommendations:

Basketball Size Chart - Recommended Sizes for Kids & Adults

Youth Basketball Guidelines: From NBA & USA Basketball!


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