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Learn the Game

Finding the Correct Basketball Size for Kids and Youth

If you’re like me, you learned how to play basketball the hard way. You got a regulation size basketball in the first grade and were told to put it into a regulation size 10-foot hoop.

“Get it up there!” my father would yell at me.

Then I’d get the ball maybe halfway up to the hoop. I was focused more on running away to make sure that heavy ball wouldn’t hit me in the head.

An NBA regulation basketball is 29.5 inches in circumference. That’s the same size that is used in all collegiate basketball divisions. High school basketball programs also use this basketball. The WNBA and women’s college or high school basketball programs use a ball that is 28.5 inches in circumference.

Having kids and youth try to heft that basketball up there can build muscle, but it doesn’t actually help develop the hand/eye coordination required to make a basketball. That’s why looking at other basketball sizes is a better option.

You can use the regulation basketballs for dribbling, passing, and handling drills. When it comes to shooting, you’ll want to use the basketball that is the right size and weight for your child.

Breakthrough Basketball offers a helpful basketball sizing chart that can help you identify the correct size quickly and accurately.

Adjusting Rim Height in Addition to Using the Right Ball

It was a lot of fun to dunk a basketball on a 6-foot rim. Of course I was 22 at the time…

Many kids dream of dunking the basketball like their favorite professional players. Or maybe you were like me, dreaming of hitting a clutch shot like Kyrie Irving did to help the Cavaliers seal their improbably comeback championship run against the Golden State Warriors.

Doing this stuff requires confidence. Kids aren’t going to build up that confidence when they can’t even get the basketball up into the cylinder.

Adjusting the rim is more than just making the game of basketball more fun for our young prodigies. It’s a way to help them learn a proper shooting technique from an early age. Trying to fix a poor technique once a child reaches junior varsity basketball takes a lot more effort than teaching the correct technique in the first place.

This is what the correct size of basketball will help you do as well.

For kids that are 5-7 years old, they should be shooting on a 6-foot rim with an appropriately sized basketball. 8- and 9-year-olds can shoot on a 7-foot rim. Raise it up to 8 feet for 10-year-olds, 9 feet for 11-year-olds, and 10 feet for kids 12+ in age.

Once you get the rim height and ball size correct, you can then begin to work on shooting drills to improve their game.

I can’t deny that the first time I made a real basket with a regulation ball on 10-foot hoop made me feel incredibly special. It just took me over a year to be able to get the ball up that high. It made me develop a unique up-and-over shot that I kept with me until my sophomore year in high school.

Kids and youth today benefit from correct fundamentals at every stage. That’s why the correct basketball size is so important – and always will be.

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