USA Basketball announce first-ever youth basketball guidelines

The National Basketball Association (NBA) and USA Basketball have teamed up to develop the first-ever youth basketball guidelines aimed at improving the way children, parents and coaches experience the game, with a specific emphasis on promoting player health and wellness.

These guidelines have received the endorsement of youth-focused organizations that collectively reach tens of millions of youth, including Boys & Girls Clubs of America, YMCA of the USA, National Recreation and Parks Association, JCC Association, and Positive Coaching Alliance.  The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) also supports these guidelines as being in the best interest of the sport and the health and well-being of the youth basketball community.  Additionally, these guidelines have received the endorsement of adidas, Nike and Under Armour.

The announcement tips off the second annual Jr. NBA Week (Oct. 17-25), during which all 30 NBA teams celebrate youth basketball by hosting clinics and events in their communities and during their open practices.  The Jr. NBA presented by Under Armour is the league’s youth basketball participation program for boys and girls ages 6-14.

In the spring of 2016, the NBA and USA Basketball established three expert working groups focused on the following areas: Health and Wellness, Playing Standards, and Curriculum and Instruction.  Their work was endorsed by the Jr. NBA Leadership Council, which is chaired by Retired U.S. General Martin E. Dempsey and consists of prominent basketball influencers and stakeholders.

The Health and Wellness working group drafted a scientific paper that makes eight key recommendations for promoting a positive and healthy youth basketball experience.  Highlights include:

  • Delay single-sport specialization in the sport of basketball until age 14 or older

Participation in multiple sports in early childhood is beneficial from a player health and player development perspective.  Athletes that reach the highest level of achievement are more likely to have played multiple sports at a young age and delayed single-sport specialization until late adolescence.

  • Limit high-density scheduling based on age-appropriate guidelines

High-density competition scheduling can increase risk for injury and burnout.  Parents, coaches and event directors should be cautious in considering tournaments that schedule multiple competitive events (i.e., games) in short periods of time.

  • Ensure rest from organized basketball at least one day per week, extended time away from organized basketball each year, and adequate sleep each night

Daily rest is important for injury prevention, sport development and overall health.  Rest days should be taken each week, and extended time off should be taken each year for physical recovery as well as to recharge oneself psychologically.  Such an approach, along with getting the recommended amount of sleep, helps to maintain motivation for continued participation.

For detailed suggested and maximum participation recommendations, rest guidelines, and the suggested player segmentation model, visit www.youthguidelines.com.

“Basketball is a terrific, inclusive sport that is fun to play and teaches kids great values,” said Mark Tatum, NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer.  “As strong as our game is, we believe there is a real opportunity to improve the youth basketball experience and enhance player health and wellness by establishing standards for how the game should be played and coached at the grassroots level.”

“In the United States, basketball is the most popular youth sport according to a variety of measures,” said Jim Tooley, USA Basketball CEO and Executive Director.  “But we want more than great participation numbers; we have a responsibility to help kids, parents and coaches experience the game in a fun, positive and healthy manner.”

Nike is an official partner of USA Basketball’s Youth Development Program, which is tasked with developing youth basketball initiatives that promote, grow and elevate the game.

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