As a physical education teacher and basketball coach, it was always important that my youth learned to “Read the Spin.”
What does that even mean?
“Reading a Spin” means teaching young players how to read where the ball will bounce when it has a spin on it.
When running a one-day per week basketball program for kindergarten to second-grade kiddos, I had a blast teaching them how to read the ball's path and the spin.
Let’s take a closer look at how this skill was taught.
I enlisted the help of my high school and middle school players and offered a one-day per week program for my lower elementary players. It was my big push to bring basketball back to communities and families. Participating in the clinic taught the high schoolers what teaching and mentoring are all about. What can be more powerful than older youth teaching younger youth? The result builds a closer community and strong support.
My older players and I taught youngsters to read the ball. The older player stood about 6-7 feet away from one of the youngsters and bounced the ball in front of them, putting a spin on it. The ball can be spun to the right, left, forward, or backward. The young player must move to catch the ball after it bounced and jumped in a direction based on the spin. I would have them practice five spins in a row in the same direction. Five spins gave the youngsters enough time to notice what the older player’s hands were doing to cause the ball to spin and bounce in a direction. We would then allow the kiddos to practice spinning the ball.
We call this “Reading the Spin.” Kids learn through experiences and repetition. The more they saw how the ball bounced based on what their older player’s hands did, the more they learned how “One Action Caused Another Action.”
Another great way to help younger players learn to read the ball is to toss it out in front of them, so the ball bounces away from them. To start, I have the little kiddos stand in front of the older players but with their back to the older players. When the older player tossed the ball out in front, they yell “Go” simultaneously. The youngsters chase after the ball to catch it before the second bounce. We even allowed them to touch the ball if catching is still difficult.
What this skill does is teach the youngster to read the speed and height of the ball as it bounces. If it was thrown way in front of them but high, it will bounce high, so it’s easier to get to. However, if it’s thrown short with a low bounce, it will be harder to catch because of the lower first bounce. This tells the kids how fast or slow to run to get to the ball. Again, this is just gold! They learn how to perform a critical part of the game and don’t even realize it.
When we bring youth sports back to the kids, families, and communities we give an opportunity for everyone to grow and learn together. Having a plan of how skills are taught, like “Reading the Spin,” for primary grade levels, is a fantastic strategy to bring FUN and FUNdamentals back to the kids.
Another way to bring the fun back to basketball is with the Basketball Movement Assessment. It is 28 tests and exercises designed to bring healthy competition to your players and encourages them to work on their skills.