Lesson Tutor : Mom Rules Basketball

Mom RULES: Basketball
by Joanne Mikola

The first in a series of lessons aimed at Moms and other first time players, teachers, coaches and referees of the game of basketball. 

So. You want to teach your child the basics of basketball. Why? Because it requires so little equipment?
It can be played both indoors and outdoors?
It’s almost a non contact sport where contact is penalized?
You were a star basketball player, yourself, in high school?
Your child wants to grow up as tall as an NBA player?
Your child really, really, really wants to play?

The Rules : All sports

1. No Balls In the House.
2. The teacher/coach/referee’s rulings are final (That would be you, Mom)

The Game : Basketball

Doctor James Naismith, a Canadian, is credited with the creation of the game of basketball in 1891. He was bored with winter and a bunch of lethargic students, so he nailed a couple of peach baskets to the balconies of the gymnasium at the Y.M.C.A. and made up a game to energize everyone.

The object is simple – score more points than the other team. Now the “how do you score” those winning points is a little more complicated. We will focus on one key element here today – dribbling.

What is dribbling? There are only three ways to move a basketball in this game: Pass, shoot and dribble. Dribbling is a term used to describe bouncing the ball as a player walks or runs while in control of the ball. 

When does dribbling start? Once you have the ball in your hands, you must release it before both feet leave the floor. You can take a single step but the second (back) foot must remain planted in position. You can use that back foot as the center of a circle and swivel around while looking for either another player to pass to or a direction in which to go. The ball must leave your hands before you lift the back (second) foot off the floor.

When does a dribble fizzle? You’ve dribbled the distance from your own basket to that of your opponents. You want to stop. The ball cannot. You must continue to bounce the ball while stepping in place while you figure out a way to dispose of it. If you stop completely and hold the ball in both hands your ability to move from that spot stops. Should you try to continue moving, a penalty will result from this illegal ‘double dribble’.

Basketball differs from football in that on the field the ball is tucked under a player’s wing and any number of steps can be run. In basketball, this is a no-no. If more than two steps are taken by a player while holding the ball, ‘traveling’ is called against that player. 

How do you dribble? 

What happens if you don’t dribble properly? The Ref will get you! A sharp whistle blast will alert everyone that something not right has happened on the court. Play stops. Traveling and double or illegal dribbles are very common rule infractions in novice play. There are standard hand signals used by the referees to indicate these violations: 

Travelling signal*Traveling.The penalty for traveling is a loss of possession of the ball. The referee will take away the ball and give it  to a player from the opposing team. A throw in from outside the court boundaries, close to where the infraction occurred, will set the game back in motion. 

Illegal dribbling signal.*Illegal dribbling. Another violation that results in loss of possession of the basketball. As for traveling, above, the referee will take away the ball and give it over to a player from the opposing team. A throw in from outside the court boundaries, close to where the infraction occurred, will set the game back in motion. 
*Graphics courtesy of www.freezone.com

That’s just about it. Now go out there and practice. What? No court? No problem. Try these simple drills to hone your skills.

All alone : Go for a walk around the block dribbling all the way. Concentrate on feeling how hard you have to roll your hand to push the ball down. Does this force change as you speed up your walking pace? Can you go past one, two, three driveways without looking down at  your feet or watching the ball? If no, try again. If yes, pick up the pace and try running next time. Can you do it sideways? Eye- hand coordination will start you off, but it’s not enough. You have to be able to watch the entire court and the other players and assess your next, best move. You can’t do that with your eyes glued to your toes. If you get bored, try dribbling around, over and under objects, kind of like an obstacle course. Stay away from large moving objects, like cars.  A related exercise would be to litter a path with small objects and the dribbler must walk/dribble the path and pick up each without stopping. 

2 people :  A little one on one. In this game of basketball, the opposing team will always try to take the ball away from you so that they can have a chance of scoring against you. One way is to ‘steal’ the ball while you are merrily dribbling upcourt. You must keep control of the ball by sometimes blocking or shielding the ball with your body as you continue. Walk beside a buddy and take turns dribbling. Try to intercept the ball. Take turns. Play nice. 

3 people :  Take turns being the referee. 2 players walk/run/dribble while the third evaluates the play. Outdoor play? Give the kid a whistle. Share roles. Whistle returned to Mom immediately on re-entry to the house. Thank you.
You could try a ‘basketball limbo’ contest. Who can dribble, and not stop, the lowest? Pick out tree branches, swing set bars, table edges, anything that will force the player to crouch or bend while passing under that object. 

As many people as there are balls : If a large space is available, play dribble tag. All players must continually dribble and will be eliminated if they stop. 

If you think you have these basics mastered, it’s time for a little more research on strategic dribbling styles, like the low dribble, the cross-over, the half reverse dribble. What you will notice, even in the advanced exercises suggested here, is that nowhere does it say you have to be 6’11” tall in order to be a great dribbler. Just look at your baby sister, or napping granddad. All you need is practice. And more practice. The goal is control. Don’t believe me? Ask an expert… like the person responsible for scrubbing the toilets in your house…