Benefits of Playing Basketball at a Young Age
The benefits of basketball for players are far-reaching and can have a positive impact on many aspects of life. Getting involved in sports from a young age teaches organisation, self-discipline and personal responsibility. All crucial skills when it comes to balancing their social and academic lives.
Whatever level of basketball athletes may play at, being part of a basketball team is a great way to build friendships and bond with teammates. These bonds can last a lifetime, LeBron James for example, still hangs out with his high school basketball team to this day, as kids the “Fab 5” were inseparable. Basketball provides experience in dealing with different personality types and can teach invaluable life lessons such as communication, conflict resolution, diplomacy and a sense of fair-play.
On an emotional level, basketball helps players’ self-esteem, which grows as their skills develop. It also provides a physical outlet for pent-up stress reducing the risk of emotional problems such as anxiety and depression.
Playing a sport releases endorphins in the brain, giving players a natural high which in turn allows them to sleep better, improving concentration and mental acuity both on the court and in their academic life. It is widely recognised that mental fortitude and focus is key to improved sporting performance. This is especially true for basketball, where athletes need to be constantly thinking several moves ahead, staying aware of the other players and dealing with pressure, especially towards the end of a tight game.
Some interesting key health facts:
- Shooting hoops burns 300 calories an hour
- Playing a half-court game brings it up to 558 an hour
- Playing a full court game will burn around 747 calories an hour
Improves Heart Health and Metabolism
There are a number of other positive effects a basketball lifestyle can have on an individual’s health as well as burning calories. As basketball is a non-stop game, your heart rate is consistently up, building endurance for your cardiovascular muscles, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke later on in life. Basketball involves high-intensity interval training, which raises metabolism for up to twelve hours after the activity has ceased. This is called EPOC (excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption) and during this time your body basically burns fat even while not working out.
Improves Bone Strength
The constant jumping, running, cutting and squatting in a defensive stance provides a tremendous work out for your leg muscles improving flexibility, speed and agility but is also good for bones. The impact of jumping and landing to pivot at a fast pace maximizes bone density and strength, has positive implications by helping to prevent fractures in the short term but also in later life by reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
Improves Motor Coordination and Muscle Memory
Playing and training will lead to improved motor coordination and muscle memory. To be a successful basketball player, you need to be able dribble without looking at the ball, shoot free-throws consistently and automatically, and naturally take jump-shots. Basketball greatly enhances your spatial awareness too. At all points in the game, a player needs to be aware of where the ball is, where their teammates are and where the opponents are. In high-intensity games, a player needs to be aware of these things and also listen to his coach and surrounding teammates, processing and assimilating information and reacting and changing play accordingly.