Raising positive kids
When my dad got a new job and we had to move to Statesville, N.C., from Atlanta, it was a pretty scary time for my brother and me. Leaving the city we were used to, and all it had to offer, to go to the middle of nowhere in North Carolina? But my dad, who was from Statesville originally, only had good things to say about North Carolina. It gets cool at night in the summer, we’d be near grandparents, and his biggest boast of all – we’re moving back to basketball country.
Granted, Georgia Tech is an ACC team, so there was some basketball playing and watching going on with our friends. But mostly when it came to big sports and what kids played, it was softball/baseball and football. We were probably one of the only families on the block that even had a basketball goal. Then we moved back to North Carolina, and both my brother and I played basketball each winter, until we got to high school and our athletic inability kept us from making the team. But we still had a basic knowledge of the game and its fundamentals to make it exciting to go to games and watch them on TV.
Now as a parent, I have been to my share of soccer games and not really gotten into the thrill of watching the game because I don’t know enough about the sport, the rules and the fundamentals. And I realize that’s exactly how many parents, transplants from other areas to this great state, might feel when watching basketball. It’s fast-paced and simple enough to learn that getting the ball in the basket usually gains the team two points. But it can be rather boring to watch if you don’t really know the basic strategies, even when it’s just a youth league.
Here are a few basics of the game to get you started. And here’s to an exciting basketball season watching those little ones struggle to shoot the ball in the basket!
Scoring: Regular shots count 2 points, foul shots count 1 and anything behind the three point line is 3 points.
Time: NBA games are 4, 12-minute long quarters. College games are two 20 minute halves. Middle and high school are four 8-minute quarters, with a halftime in between the second and third quarters. The clock will stop when players are shooting foul shots, or if a time out is called. In most youth leagues, the kids play two 20 minute halves, but the clock runs continuously. After halftime, the teams switch which goal they’re shooting at.
Distances: Think that 10-foot goal is a little high for a first grader? Don’t worry. In youth leagues for grades K-2, the goal is set at 8 feet.
The three point shot is a fairly new addition, added to the game in 1979-80. For college the distance is 19’9" away from the goal.
Fouls: Basketball isn’t supposed to be a contact sport. To keep down some of the roughness, fouls were implemented. Referees can call a foul on a player for pushing, hitting, slapping, holding on to another player and even just rude conduct, like yelling at a referee or a coach. Personal fouls are actions such as pushing and hitting performed by the offensive player, someone on the team with a ball. For the first five personal fouls, the ball changes possession to the other team. But after a team reaches five fouls, the person on the other team who was fouled gets a chance to shoot a foul shot. If they make the first one, they get a second one.
Fouls for rude behavior get a technical foul, where the coach from the other team gets to choose who shoots the foul shot, and no one is standing on his side of the court.
Other Violations: The following all get the other team possession of the ball.
Walking/Travelling: once you’ve planted your feet to pass, if you move your pivot foot again it’s travelling. Walking is performed while dribbling – if you take more than a step and a half without a dribble, you have been walking.
Double dribble: dribbling with both hands, or stopping dribbling and picking up the ball to start again.
Three second violation: spending more than three seconds within the shooting lane
Five second violation: spending more than five seconds getting the ball inbounds.
10 second violation: taking longer than 10 seconds to get the ball across the center line to your own goal.
At youth games, referees might be lenient with many of these violations.
Offense/Defense: The team with the ball is the offensive team, they’re trying to score. The other team plays defense and tries to keep the offensive team from getting the ball in the basket. For many youth leagues, defense is always man to man, one person trying to block one other person from shooting, rather than trying to double up on one particularly good shooter or complicate things with defensive plans. But as kids get older and better with the fundamentals, some strategy will come into play. You might hear your middle schooler talking about playing a zone defense. This is where a person is assigned a spot, and their job is to block whoever comes into that area, rather than sticking with one particular person.
As you can see from these rules, basketball is a quick-paced sport. There is a lot of action, and games tend to move quickly. Personally, I think it’s fun to watch. And maybe this year you will too!