Children develop a love of sports early, and in many ways. The love of the game develops when a child learns a sport's most basic skills, is on the field with his friends, and begins to feel comfortable with his body and see how hard work pays off with increased skills efficiency.
It's a fact that kids just starting out in sports (from kindergarten through grade five) not only have smaller hands and feet than older kids but lack the strength and coordination to handle regulation size and weight balls.
As my colleague, ex-NBA player Bob Bigelow, emphasizes in his coaching clinics, expecting kids younger than third grade to dribble, pass and shoot a regulation basketball at a regulation height basket would be akin to asking their dads to dribble, pass and shoot a nine-pound medicine ball into a ten-foot basket: the embarrassment and frustration they would experience in missing the basket over and over would quickly turn them off to the sport.
The same is true in other sports as well. A child's hands are too small to grip a regulation-size football. But the balls need to be reduced not only in size but in weight: even if the diameter of the soccer ball is reduced, if it weighs about the same as a regulation ball, it is a simple fact that a first-grader starting out in six-on-six soccer won't be able to kick it very far.
Bob and I (and every other youth sports expert I know) agree that one of the best ways to ensure that kids are having fun and developing a love of sports at an early age is to modify the rules (length of the field, height of the basket etc.) and the equipment so that kids enjoy success earlier and want to keep playing sports longer!
Smaller + lighter = better
That is precisely what Spalding has done.
Spalding designed the innovative Rookie GearTM line of age-appropriate basketballs, footballs and soccer balls specifically for kids 4 to 8 years old in the fun and skill development phase of sports. The balls are smaller and weigh 25% less than standard youth balls, giving kids a chance not only to learn proper techniques and mechanics - which will make the transition to standard sized balls easier - but develop confidence in their abilities.
In blind field-tests young athletes using Spalding Rookie Gear balls were able to kick, shoot, and throw farther and with better accuracy than ever before:
- Rookie GearTM soccer balls went 20% farther than standard size 3 soccer balls
Rookie GearTM basketballs helped kids rebound with more confidence, dribble more successfully, and shoot with dramatically better form; and
- Rookie GearTM footballs (which are approved for Pop Warner's Tiny Mite and Mitey Mite divisions) travelled 15% farther and with better form and more accuracy than standard footballs.
But just don't take my word for it. Here's just a sampling of reviews from the Internet:
- Kidzworld writes that Rookie GearTM balls are a "perfect size" for younger kids and, as a plus, "the color and cool design ... are sicker than the flu!";
- PlanetKid says Rookie GearTM balls are "definite must-haves for young ones";
- iParenting picked the Rookie GearTM basketball as an iParenting Media Award Winner; and
- The Good Housekeeping Research Institute selected Rookie GearTM as one of its "top picks" for kids 5 and older, raving that, not only were the balls better than other youth-sized equipment, but they even improved the skills of moms!
So what can you do as a parent to help your youngster have fun playing sports? Get Spalding Rookie GearTM balls for your children!
Brooke de Lench, is a youth sports expert, founder of MomsTeam.com, frequent keynote speaker and Author of Home Team Advantage: The Critical Role Of Mothers In Youth Sports (Harper Collins 2006).
Created October 21, 2009