Basketball is a game of offense and defense. To be a good defender, you have to be in the right position to move in all directions quickly. A good defensive position is balanced and looks like this:
-Feet are wide and pointed forward
-Hips, back, and knees are bent
-The butt stays down
-Shoulders are over the knees
-Hands are up and ready to defend a shot or steal a pass
For the first part of this activity, let’s focus on body awareness. See if your child can get themselves into a “defensive” position like the photo below by listening to you as you go through the cues above.
Read each one slowly and repeat it if needed. The steps build on each other so once your child has found wide feet with toes pointed forward, move to the next step. Help them by demonstrating if you need to. Now comes the tricky part….staying in that position! Basketball players have awesome endurance and strength to be able to constantly run up and down that court, moving in and out of a defensive position.
So, what are some great (and, fun) leg strengthening exercises for kids that will turn little ones into basketball stars of the future? Read on…
WALL SITS: Find a wall and have your child stand with her back against it and her feet about 12-14” away (see top photo above). Now, ask her to slide her back down the wall as if she were going to sit in an imaginary chair. Aim for a 90 degree position at the hips and knees and HOLD IT!
Need some motivation? Try some of our Hand Clapping Games as a distraction! Who can hold it longest?
TIPPY TOES: Draw a few lines on your driveway or, if you are ambitious, draw a basketball court! Have your child walk the lines on her tiptoes. Encourage her to stay high up on those toes and try to make it all the way across the line without coming down.
Too easy? Draw different shapes or letters along the lines. Tell the child to stop and hold that tippy toes position at each triangle, or at each letter that is in her name.
SIDE SHUFFLES: Draw two lines on the driveway that are 5’ apart. Starting on one line, have your child try to assume that great defensive position described above. Now, ask her to shuffle (a sideways gallop) all the way to the other line while staying low in that defensive position. This is tricky! Motivate her by putting beanbags on one line and a bucket on the other. Can she go back and forth to get all the beanbags to the bucket?
SKILL AREAS ADDRESSED: Strength, endurance, proprioception, motor control, gross motor skills, coordination