Scaling Children's Sport

Why children should play basketball with lighter balls

For an 8-year-old child, shooting a basketball successfully is often a challenge. This is especially true if a standard full-size basketball is being used. In these situations, children often have trouble propelling the ball to the height of the ring, let alone getting it through the hoop.

Given that lowering the net height is not possible on many basketball courts, reducing the size of the ball is the next best solution to increase children’s likelihood of success.

Jose Arias and colleagues observed a cohort of intermediately skilled children play basketball with three different types of balls:

  1. A lighter ball – 440 g
  2. A regulation ball – 485 g
  3. A heavier ball – 540 g

The key findings are outlined below.

When children played with the lighter ball, as compared to the other 2 balls, there was:

1. More dribbling & passing

2. More shots  & greater success

3. More lay-ups

4. More one-on-one situations

Ultimately, a lighter ball affords children the opportunity to perform skills that may otherwise not be possible.

The next step for basketball authorities is to develop rings for schools that are easily adjustable. A lighter ball combined with a lower ring should produce a style of basketball more akin to what we see on TV!


Arias, J. L. (2012). Does the modification of ball mass influence the types of attempted and successful shots in youth basketball? Human Movement, 13, 147-151.

Arias, J. L. (2012). Influence of ball weight on shot accuracy and efficacy among 9-11-year-old male basketball players. Kinesiology, 44(1), 52-59.

Arias, J. L., Argudo, F. M., Alonso, J. I. (2012). Distances and shooting zones as a function of mass of basketball among 9- to 11-year-old male players. South African Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation, 34(1), 1-11.

Arias, J. L., Argudo, F. M., Alonso, J. I. (2012). Effect of ball mass on dribble, pass, and pass reception in 9-11-year-old boys’ basketball. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 83, 407-412.

Arias, J. L., Argudo, F. M., Alonso, J. I. (2012). Effect of basketball mass on shot performance among 9-11 year-old male players. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 7(1), 69-79.

Arias, J. L., Argudo, F. M., Alonso, J. I. (2012). Effect of the ball mass on the one-on-one game situations in 9-11 year old boys’ basketball. European Journal of Sport Science, 12(3), 225-230.

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