Most people would say the 2 factors are age and current skill level. Although logical, I'd be the first to tell you they should have very little to do with the decision to start skills training.
As a mother, I've often used age as a right of passage for countless events in our children's life: the right age to go outside an play alone, the right age to walk home from school, the right age to go to bed later, or the right age to have a cell phone. However, when it comes to skills training there really isn't a right or wrong age to start. Every kiddo will develop and grow at a different pace and placing a "starting age" on skills training would be very hard to do effectlively.
Secondly, it's common for parents to use their kiddos current skill level to help determine if they are ready for skills training. If a kiddo is not very skilled, meaning mom and dad do not think their kiddo handles the ball well or make enough baskets, it will often give the impression to parents that they are not ready to start training. The truth is most kids will have poor form and poor footwork, leading to a degraded skill level, until they are shown the proper way to play. Just like learning a language, it is also easier to pick up new skills when we are young. Allowing your kiddo to attend skills training is their opportunity to learn the correct way and phase out bad habits. It also allows them to develop good form, good practices, and improve their skills!
So if it isn't age or skill, what are the 2 factors parents should use to decide if their kiddo is ready to start training? The first factor is surprisingly enough- INTEREST . There are several reasons why this is a crucial element to training so allow me to expand a couple. First of all, although we are the parents and can technically "make" our kids do what we want (for basketball this really means you can make them physically attend training), it doesn't always mean they are going to enjoy it. Enjoyment or a lack thereof, especially at an early age, is very important because it will have a significant impact on the level of effort a kiddo will give during training. Secondly, interest has a significant impact on a kiddo's willingness to learn and their ability to be coachable. If they aren't attending skills training because they have a genuine interest to get better and learn- the chances of skill training being worth your time and money are very low.
Here are some indicators that you can use to help gage your kiddos interest :
1. Playing basketball in their spare time, with friends or alone;
2. Asking questions about the game;
3. Asking you to teach them or explain aspect of the game to them;
4. Watching basketball on TV by choice or wanting to go to games;
5. Asking and/or wanting to play on a team.
Now let's talk about the second factor! This one is rarely considered by parents when it comes to training or playing a sport, mostly because it's hard for us to truly gage (unless we have playing or coaching experience). This mystery factor is IQ - basketball IQ that is! Simply put, this critical factor cannot be taught solely in skills training but is a must have for players that want to develop to their fullest potential. Kiddos that have a high basketball IQ are far more capable of quickly picking up drills, learning proper footwork, learning proper form, and understanding the why's of the game.
Here are some indicators that you can use to help gage your kiddos basketball IQ :
1. Knowing common terms and vocabulary of basketball:
2. General understanding of player roles and associated responsibilities;
3. Understanding of game rules.
So when you see your kiddo demonstrating INTEREST and IQ - know that it's time to start skills training!