Basketball on the Edge – What Height Should the Basket be for my Young Player?

There are two schools of thought here in regard to basket height for young players. One says that the regulation basket is 10 feet and that is where it should be for everyone regardless of their age or size. The other one says that the height of the basket should be adjusted based on the age or strength of the player.

I believe that the basket height should be lower for younger, smaller players. As a parent you should start the basket low enough so that the child can shoot the basketball with proper form. That will vary from player to player, but a good rule of thumb is to match the age of the child to the height of the basket. So a 6 year old would shoot on a 6 foot basket, a 7 year old on a 7 foot basket, an 8 year old on an 8 foot basket and a 9 year old on a 9 foot basket. After that, you need to make a judgement about the ability of your young player to shoot the basketball with proper form on a 10 foot basket. If they can shoot from 15-17 feet with good form then move your basket height up to 10 feet. If they can’t, keep the basket lower until they develop the strength and proper shooting mechanics at 9 feet.

If you watch kids play basketball many of them have very poor shooting mechanics they developed from trying to heave the ball at a 10 foot basket. They simply don’t have the strength to get the ball to the rim without sacrificing proper fundamentals. Those habits they develop when they are young are very difficult to break as they get older. It is much easier to develop proper shooting form in a young player than it is to correct the flaws in an older player’s shot. Fixing bad shooting mechanics can take months of daily practice and even then many players are not able to remake their shot. Help your child develop the proper techniques when they are young by keeping the basket at a height that enables them to learn to shoot properly.

Parents and coaches on the other side of this debate argue that kids should be practicing on the regulation basket where they will play their games. Your young player will be able to make the adjustment to the higher basket when they play in games. In fact, they will be a better shooter in the present time (and certainly in the future) than those kids who always practice on a 10 foot basket. Besides, your child will get plenty of shots at a 10 foot basket during their team practices, games, gym class, etc. Let them build their shooting skills on the driveway on a lower rim. Shooting at a lower basket builds confidence. Remember – Skill building is confidence building. I grew up playing on my driveway with a lower basket until I was about 12 years old. I believe it helped me develop the shooting mechanics that made me a Division 1 college player.

How much sense does it make to have a 6 year old and LeBron James shooting at a basket that is the same height. I would argue not very much. Help your young player develop the proper mechanics for shooting the basketball and keep the basket height lower. Your child will be a better shooter as a result!

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