A-Z of school sport

B is for Basketball

Who plays it?

It is the second most popular sport in the world. There are 850 clubs in England, and 700 schools are affiliated to the Schools' Association. There are many local leagues. The English Basketball Association (EBBA) is aiming to provide 10,000 basketball outdoor goals with money from the Lottery Fund.

What you need

Kit can be as simple as lycra shorts (or neoprene - "lighter and shorter but great for keeping groin muscles warm"), T-shirt, and basketball boots, right up to the mesh kit and ankle armour worn by the American NBA stars.

Equipment

A basketball; a bicycle pump with needle valve, or an air compressor. A heavy-duty basket system with backboard (around Pounds 400). Or you can go all the way with an NBA-used portable goal at over Pounds 10,000. Also expensive are attack timers and score displays. Suppliers include Sportserve, 10A Drill Hall Business Centre, East Parade, Ilkley, West Yorkshire LS29 8EZ. Tel: 01943 603669.

Premises

Either an area of tarmac round a goal, or a court marked out on tarmac, or a proper indoor sprung court.

Insurance

From school's own insurance, local authority (for premises) teachers' unions insurance for teachers. Coaches may be able to use EBBA.

Time needed in school to develop skills

Once a week, at least for two lesson periods. A game lasts 40 minutes but the clock is stopped every time the ball goes out of play. A curriculum guide is available from EBBA.

Out of hours?

At least one hour per team practice per week, plus a morning or afternoon session for matches. Local leagues at mini (8-12) and secondary-school level.

Physical benefits

Develops strength, speed, agility. Co-ordination develops in previously gangly youths. Players expend as much energy as those playing squash.

Physical risks

Strain injuries. Legs, particularly, if not warmed up properly can suffer torn ligaments.

Social benefits

Can be played by girls, boys or mixed teams. Encourages co-operation and teamwork. Can be played indoors and in back gardens. Glamorous.

Social disadvantages

Have you ever heard Randy Newman's song "Short People"?

Why play?

It's cool.

Why not?

Don't like team games; too short to score; would rather watch it on television or play the NBA video game; all the rough kids hog the ball.

is it a Sound investment for a school?

Want to up your sports profile? This is the one for you.

English Basketball Association, 48 Bradford Road, Stanningley, Leeds LS28 6DF. Tel: 0113 236 1166

English Schools Basketball Association, 44 Northleat Avenue Paignton, Devon TQ3 3UG. Tel: 01803 523 842289

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