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Dribble, Shoot, Score with USA Basketball

Editor's note: USA Basketball is a nonprofit organization and the national governing body for men’s and women’s basketball in the United States.

With 27 million participants, basketball is the number one team sport in the country!  No matter where you live, chances are, you can find a hoop – and other players– in your neighborhood. 

Following gold medal performances by both the men’s and women’s U.S. basketball teams at this summer’s Olympics, there’s no time like the present to pick up a ball, find a group of friends, and start working the court!

Watch this video of the WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx explain why it's important to get active:

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, these tips from USA Basketball will inspire you to get moving!

Ten Tips for Getting Involved in Basketball

  1. Basketball works multiple muscle groups.  The sport involves running, jumping, and lateral movements, plus it’s a great cardiovascular and strength workout that improves your coordination. Be sure to warm up and cool down properly, and have plenty of water on hand.     
  2. Did you know the first Olympic basketball game was played outside on a clay court in 1936? You can play basketball practically anywhere – as long as you have a ball and something to shoot into!
  3. While a typical basketball game is played with five on each side, you don't need five other people to play:
    • Find one or more partners for a friendly game of H-O-R-S-E. To begin, Player 1 chooses a spot on the court and take a shot.  If Player 1 makes the shot, Player 2 must take a shot from the same spot. If Player 2 misses the shot, he/she receives a letter – in this case “H.” If Player 1 misses the shot, Player 2 can shoot from any spot on the court. If this shot is made, Player 1 must make the same shot, and so on…The game continues until one player receives all 5 letters that spell out the word, “H-O-R-S-E.”
    • On your own, try different trick shots. Shoot over the back of the backboard, from the half court line, behind the back, etc. It will help your overall game and also wow your friends the next time you play with them.
  4. Shooting is only one part of the game. Become quicker and a better dribbler by dribbling while you doing sprints and dribble through an obstacle course.  Set up cones or ladders on any hard surface and time yourself as you dribble through the course.  Set goals and challenge yourself to improve your times in 3-6 weeks. Jump roping is also a fun way to get faster.  Try these 5 jump roping drills to get started. 
  5. From youth ball to adult leagues, there are many opportunities to get involved in basketball. To find a club or team in your area, contact your local YMCA, Boys & Girls Club, or your city or county parks and recreation department.
  6. Teamwork is key to success in any sport.  Follow the lead of the gold medal winning U.S. men’s and women’s teams and make team building a priority.  Trust, respect, and communication will earn you points with your peers – and on the scoreboard. 
  7. USA Basketball’s Hoops for Troops initiative engages military personnel and their families through programs, events, exhibition games, and clinics around the world. During the 2012 USA Basketball tour, Hoops for Troops touched thousands of military service members and families in Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., Manchester, Barcelona, and London.
  8. Playing basketball is an awesome way to sharpen your math skills. Practice percentages by attempting 10 shots and dividing the number of shots you make by 10.  Challenge yourself by changing the denominator – try taking 12, 15, or 20 shots instead.
  9. Three-on-three is the newest phenomenon in international basketball. To learn more, visit the iHoops 3x3 page.
  10. To start a new sport like basketball, kids need their parents and caregivers to cheer them on.  To learn more about how you to support the kids in your life, check out these resources from iHoops.  

** BONUS FACT:  Did you know that Kobe Bryant’s first name comes from the Japanese beef with the same name?  Kobe’s parents noticed this type of beef on a restaurant menu and decided it would be a good name for their son.

See why Track and Field is a fun way to get active, too!

Ali Kelley is the Deputy Associate Director for Let’s Move Outside!