What’s The Best Age To Start Basketball For Kids?

Like any other sport, the main motive of basketball is to make children stronger, active, agile, and learn teamwork. These sports increase their physical coordination and help them to stay healthy and fit. 

What’s The Best Age To Start Basketball For Kids?

If your children have started showing interest in basketball, then it’s a good sign. You can provide them with a proper training environment at an early age so they may have enough time to fully develop their skills until they get enrolled in the NBA or other national or international leagues. 

Most parents and guardians stay confused about what’s the best age to start basketball? Well, there is not a particular age to start playing basketball. Any child or adult can start playing basketball whenever they want. 

However, before you look for when to start playing basketball for kids, there are some points to look for which we have mentioned below. After that, we have discussed different ages when children begin playing basketball and what benefits they will have if they start playing early. Let’s get started! 

What To Look Before Kids Start Practicing Basketball?

Before you make your kid start practicing basketball, look for the following points. 

What To Look Before Kids Start Practicing Basketball
  1. Right Age

Every child is different from one another. If you are looking for how old you have to be to play basketball then the answer is we can’t fix a particular age for children to start practicing. Basketball is a competitive sport so children should be grown up enough to handle the ball and bear the stress that these basketball sports provide. Their brains must be developed enough to understand the game’s spirit. Losing during the game can lead them to simply leave the game if they are not mature enough. 

That’s why the recommended age for children according to the NBA is 7 years old to start practicing basketball. But, if your child is not ready yet then it’s ok to make him begin practicing after a few years. In addition, if they can manage the stress of basketball before the age of 5 then they continue practicing at an early age.

Additionally, children’s heights differ, which is quite natural. The height changes as they get older. Michael Jordan, for example, was just 5’10” when he was 15, but grew to 6’6″ later in adolescence. 

Moreover, many individuals start practicing at the age of 10, 12, or even after their 20’s. For instance, NBA players Joel Embiden and Hakeem Olajuwon started practicing basketball at the age of 15 while Mark Eaton started even later at 22. The true spirit of every game is to make people healthy and fit. If a person is having fun and has developed an interest in basketball, he can start practicing right from that day. 

We have discussed briefly here at which age a child should start playing basketball and what are basketball skills age they can learn. 

Age 4 and less

If your youngsters have a passion to play basketball, they can start learning the basics and dribbling the ball at this younger age.

Age 5-6

Children can also start playing basketball at this age and get enrolled in the NBA later on. This age is suitable to learn the basics and run around the court with other mates while following some basic basketball rules. 

Age 7-8

At this age, fundamental skills are necessary to learn. Kids can learn to dribble, pass the ball and shoot from different angles. You may demonstrate them tricks and rules while playing with adults.

Age 9-10

At this age, children become mature enough and develop their body coordination as well. That’s why they can start practicing dribbling, passing the ball, defending the ball, and also learn from where they can make a shot perfectly. 

  1. Physical and Emotional Development

Physical and Emotional Development

If your child has grown enough that he can bear the scratches due to falling on the court then he is ready to play. Sometimes, children have the perfect height and wound-bearing capacity but they fail emotionally. Further, during defense, other players may get harsh a bit while defending the ball, disturbing your child emotionally. They have to bear the team pressure if they fail to shoot or miss a shot due to a tiny mistake. If your child gets confused and starts crying, then it’s better to make them stop practicing this competitive sport. 

Most children between the ages of 5 and 6 can demonstrate greater physical and emotional endurance than an 8-year-old child. But, because every child develops differently, you must pay attention to their particular development and avoid comparing your child to other children of the same age.

  1. Ask For Their Interest

Basketball practice isn’t always enjoyable for the kids. They don’t want to play this game. Therefore, they don’t perform well on the field nor do they enjoy it. If you want your children to enjoy the game, you should first inquire about their interests. It is important to enjoy sports while maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle. 

Therefore, just don’t force them to start basketball without having an interest in it. Maybe if they are not good at basketball, they are probably good at any other sport. 

Advantages Of Early Start In Basketball 

As we have mentioned before, playing basketball can begin at any age. But, if your kid starts practicing at an early age then they may have multiple benefits which are described below. 

Kids playing basketball
  1. Physical Health Fitness

Basketball is a game of being active and agile. To learn dribbling only, kids need a lot of practice. The physical practice of basketball increases the overall flexibility in the body and makes them fit and active. They can enhance their reflexes as well. 

Furthermore, the basketball coaches also indulge the children in other special drills, including squats, lunges, push-ups, or other hands and leg movement exercises. These exercises make their shooting, dribbling, power-ups, and other tricks more refined and enhanced. Additionally, they become strong and active. 

  1. Mental Health Fitness

Basketball physical activity causes children to become mentally engaged, aware, and in a good mood. They get confidence from the applause they receive on the court. They also learn to deal with failure and anxiety while playing the game. They can use these skills in their daily lives as well, allowing them to deal effectively with life’s challenges.

Furthermore, because basketball practice teaches you quick reactions, beginners can improve their decision-making abilities too.

  1. Social-life Development

Basketball can be extremely beneficial to shy children who are hesitant to interact with their peers. The enjoyable atmosphere on the court lets them feel at ease, allowing them to begin mingling and making friends.

  1. Learn To Work As A Team

Basketball may also educate a youngster on how to work together as a team, which is essential learning for sure. If they start playing basketball at an early age, they can quickly learn to collaborate and participate with their teammates. Working in a group gives them an increased sense of self-confidence and socialization.

  1. Learn Basic Skills Of Basketball

Basketball at an early age makes kids learn the basic basketball skills efficiently. The basketball skills that players can learn at an early age include dribbling, passing the ball, rebounding, shooting, dunking or defense. 

NBA Rules And Regulations Of Early Age Basketball

If you want your kid to start practicing basketball then you also need to know the NBA rules and regulations. If your kids comply with these rules then they can easily enter the NBA leagues and show their best. Moreover, these rules and regulations help kids to achieve long-lasting development. 

teenage boy with ball basketball
  1. Appropriate Ball Size

The NBA recommends size 5 basketball for kids under 7 to 8 years and size 6 for 9 to 11 years old. These small basketballs help them to hold the ball easily and learn to shoot or dribble appropriately. If the ball is bigger and they are unable to handle the ball then they can’t learn the basics of basketball. 

Related article: Basketball Sizes: What Ball Size Is Best for Your Basketball Game?

  1. Basket Size

For kids of age group 7 to 8 years, the basket height should be 8 ft while for 9 to 11 years age group the height should be 9ft. If the basket height is way more high or low for kids, they won’t be able to learn shooting skills successfully. 

  1. No Zone Defense

For kids, the NBA recommends using no defense zone. This no zone defense makes children utilize the whole court and increase their physical movement. Moreover, when there is no defense zone, the kids will learn automatically and explore their natural skills to guard the player.  

  1. Equal Play Time

According to the NBA if there are kids of 7-8 years old then they should be given equal play time. For age groups 9-11 years they should be given equal play time in the first three periods. The last period should be for the coach to demonstrate the kids their mistakes. 

Kids in the learning phase require more time since they are still developing. Also, they need more exposure to the court and basketball tricks which they can get only if they play it by themselves. 

  1. No 3-Point Field Goal Scoring

For kids under age 11, the NBA directs for no 3-point field goal scoring. Due to this no scoring, the kids will have freedom of space and they can learn to shoot the ball properly at their appropriate and comfortable distance. 

  1. Increased Shot Clock Timing

For kids 9-12 years, the shot clock timing will be 30 seconds and for kids 13-14 years, the shot clock timing will be 24 seconds. This increased timing for youngsters will help them to decide properly and take more opportunities to possess the ball. 

Safety Measures For Kids To Play Basketball

To make sure your child stays safe from injuries, you need to follow the following protective measures. 

  • Children should wear protective gear including knee pads and elbow pads. 
  • It’s better to start practicing in indoor courts. These courts are smooth and children may get less wounds if they fall on it. 
  • Warm-up exercises should be included before every game. Instructions can be provided during these warm-up exercises. 
  • Children should be given proper rest time. As their bones are delicate as compared to grown-up players, they require more rest time to avoid muscle fatigue. 

Final Thoughts

Children can start practicing basketball at the age of 5 or 7 according to the NBA. Before that, they can practice with size zero balls and just learn to throw and catch the balls. Moreover, it’s not necessary to send your children for basketball practice as soon as they turn 5. You can wait until they grow up mentally and physically and become able to comprehend the rules of basketball and how to play this game. 


Yes, anyone can start basketball practice at 18. Though it’s not NBA recommended age and it would take a lot of practice to enter in the NBA league still, if you are enjoying and having fun then it’s ok to start basketball at 18. 

If you are healthy and fit at 40 and enjoy this sport then you can play basketball. However, you won’t be able to take part in NBA leagues at this late age. 

Early age basketball practice allows players to develop their motor skills properly. Moreover, they have more endurance and flexibility as compared to players who started playing basketball at a later age. 

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