By Greg Price
The Small Ball program is on the verge of its 10th anniversary in the Barnwell area, and its impact on youth has been immense.
Small Ball is eight straight Fridays, starting on the first Friday of November, and is earmarked for kids from Kindergarten to Grade 5.
“We have the side baskets that are lowered for the kids and we play with smaller balls,” said Aaron Edlund, athletic director at Barnwell School of the Small Ball program which has a focus of introducing kids to basketball in a fun and educational way, and is run by Edlund and his wife. “It is a program that has been very well received.”
Initially Small Ball had two age categories and now has grown into three categories of around 32 kids each.
“The Small Ball idea is that these kids are little. Eight weeks of basketball is not going to turn them into Michael Jordan or anything,” said Edlund. “But, the idea is to plant the basketball seed. So when they see a basketball lying on their driveway, or in the school gym or whatever, they will want to pick it up and play with it. It’s the seed-planting for basketball and I think the way it is set up with little centres each day and they are each divided into their colours and they each have their own shirts, it’s nice and organized.”
Kids rotate around to different learning centres where approximately eight kids are in each area, making for a lot of individual attention and focus.
“When you have Kindergarten kids trying to play any sort of sport, it’s like herding cats,” said Edlund with a chuckle. “If there was one great big group of 32 kids it would be a nightmare, but we are able to streamline it more. Each day has its own skill focus.”
Edlund noted other basketball programs for small children usually showcases one kid dominating over all others, kicking everyone’s butt and scoring all the baskets. Small Ball encourages multiple successes by putting shooting spots under the hoops.
“If you get the ball in the shooting spot, you get a free shot. It’s not a defended shot. Even your tiniest kids, in a real game they would have a hard time getting a basket. But in Small Ball, I don’t think we have gone through a season without a kids scoring a basket,” said Edlund. “The seed is planted to enjoy basketball with positivity, no matter what the skill level is of the child at the time. We have had kids go through all the years Small Ball has been available. There have been kids who have been doing Small Ball since they were six years old.”
For more information on Small Ball, you can log onto http://www.assistcoaching.ca.