– Basketball: Benefiting Since The Beginning

Basketball: Benefiting Since The Beginning

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Basketball PlayerSweat dripped from my brow as I looked around the court. I had only a few seconds left to pass the ball in – no one was open. They were pressing us. I yelled “Help!” Immediately, the girls down the court began running towards me yelling “Here, here!” and “I’m open!” Meanwhile, the two girls on my end of the court sprinted down the court and towards the basket. I threw the ball as hard as I possibly could down the court in the direction they were running. It bounced once and my teammate grabbed a hold of the ball and began to dribble. She dribbled once, twice, three times and then up for the layup. SCORE! Two points on the board. We were back in the game.

“Help” was a play that we created in high school to break the press. We would seldom use it, maybe twice a season, but only in dire need. The point of the play was to distract the other team until two players could make their move and sprint all the way down the court to be open for both the shot and the pass. When we called the play, it worked, but only because my girls could think on their feet and work together.

Basketball itself isn’t a complicated sport. In fact, it is very easy to learn and enjoyable to play for both men and women of all races and age levels. It’s an Olympic sport, a professional sport, a college sport, a high school sport, and a children’s activity. It was also invented at the the YMCA.


James Naismith, a Canadian, joined the YMCA Training School in Massachusetts in the year 1890. A year later, he was asked to join the Physical Education faculty where he was given an assignment – invent a new game that can be played indoors at all YMCA’s across the country. Naismith decided to analyze games such as football and soccer in an attempt to combine elements of each into an entirely new sport. After much thought, Naismith came up with the game that we now know as “basketball”, designed to involve many players and be easy to learn.

Today, the YMCA still offers the sport at their facilities whether it’s through summer basketball camps, winter basketball leagues, or just the occasional pick-up games. Although basketball is rooted in the organization, the Y continues to offer the sport due to a number of other benefits it provides.

Let’s consider the game. Basketball requires strategy, running, jumping, hand-eye coordination and teamwork. It is a great exercise physically as well as mentally and emotionally.  It is helpful in the development of youth in both character and athletic ability.


Basketball is a team sport. Working in teams whether as a youth or an adult requires collaboration, socialization, and cooperation.  There are always five players on the court, per team, and multiple more on the sidelines subbing in. Basketball teams can get fairly large and as a player on a team, you need to make the effort to get to know the personality and abilities of each individual player. Some players are more competitive than others, some have more physical endurance, some get angry when they fail, some always look to encourage. All basketball players are different which means all basketball teams are different.  As a team member, you need others to understand you – how you get encouragement, what motivates you, what are your strengths and weaknesses on the court, etc. If your team understands these things about you, the game will go smoother and your relationship on and off the court will strengthen.

For all agesPlaying on a basketball team provides a chance for individuals both young and old to socialize with one other and build relationships. The YMCA as an organization is for the betterment of the community. They seek to offer a place where everyone and anyone can come to work out and make new friends. Basketball helps fulfill both of those needs.

Basketball also offers character development. As a non-contact sport, fouling in basketball can lead to free points for the opposing team or even the elimination of a player from your team. Thus, when playing the sport, it is important to have self-control and play clean. This aspect of basketball is often overlooked, however it is extremely helpful in the development of the person to control their frustration and drive on the court or they will be faced with the consequences. Ultimately, it creates discipline which is an important character trait to acquire and apply to all aspects of life.

mental development

Anyone who has played a game or two can tell you that basketball is a thinking game. It requires strategy, the creation of “plays” and “quick thinking” during a game. As a child or young adult playing the sport, you are coached on how to create plays and how best to implement them on the court. However, during the heat of the moment in a game, there may not always be a chance to implement the plays you had planned for. Thus, it is important to have the ability to think on your feet, as to work around any situation you may be in on the court. This is also where teamwork is imperative. Your team members must be able to change plans quickly and work together no matter what situation they are faced with.

physical developmentLastly, the physical exercise that basketball offers is outstanding. Players are running up and down the length of the court, passing and throwing, dribbling, etc. Cardio and arm-strength exercises are only a few of the physical benefits to playing the sport of basketball, which is yet another reason why the YMCA continues to offer and encourage the participation in the sport.

The Harrisburg Area YMCA offers basketball leagues and programs for all ages and a variety of skill levels. In fact, our locations follow the motto “everyone plays and everyone wins,” meaning that no matter what age or skill level, everyone gets time to play the game and everyone benefits from it. We offer basketball summer camps for varying age groups, winter basketball leagues, competitive basketball, beginner’s level basketball, and adult organized pick-up games. There’s a basketball program for everyone.

Basketball facilitates the development of personal wellness physically, socially, and mentally, encompassing our areas of focus for youth development, social responsibility, and healthy living. It’s a sport for anyone to play, learn from, and enjoy. For more information on the basketball programs we offer, click on the location nearest you!

East Shore Branch

West Shore Branch

Northern Dauphin County Branch

Camp Curtin Branch



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