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Basketball is among the most popular and fastest growing sports in the world; according to the International Basketball Federation, over 450 million people play basketball across the globe. Anyone who plays basketball on a regular basis can expect to experience a wide range of benefits. Basketball is excellent for training several body systems and improving your ability to make decisions in dynamic environments.
Basketball requires you to perform a diverse set of athletic techniques including running, jumping and quick lateral movements. Playing an hour of basketball provides a significant amount of aerobic exercise and can burn a great deal of calories. When you play one hour of competitive basketball, you can expect to burn around 600 calories if you are a 165-pound person and up to 900 calories if you weight 250 pounds. The exact number of calories burned will vary based on your weight, physical health and the amount of effort and energy that you expend during play.
To be a good basketball player you must learn to perform many skills with the ball. Practicing skills like free throw shooting and jump shooting is particularly helpful for training your hand-eye coordination. Rebounding missed shots is another skill that requires a great degree of full-body coordination.To be a successful rebounder you must coordinate the timing of your jump to reach the ball as it caroms from the hoop and do so before other players do. Rebounding also trains hand-eye coordination, as you must safely secure the ball with your hands before others tip it away. The third basic basketball skill, dribbling, requires a finer degree of coordination. When you are first learning basketball, dribbling trains your hand-eye coordination; once you master the skill, you'll no longer look at the ball while dribbling and the skill will become a pure motor coordination task.
Basketball provides an excellent full-body workout and can help you develop useful, lean muscle. People who don't play basketball may not realize that it is a physically intensive contact sport. Defense and rebounding are two aspects of the game that are highly reliant on effective body positioning and the ability to maintain that position when your opponent exerts bodily force upon you. Playing good defensive basketball can develop your deltoids, traps, neck, lower back and core muscles. Since basketball requires a lot of running and jumping, it is also excellent for developing and toning leg and groin muscles. The finer movements that you perform in basketball, such as dribbling and shooting, are good for strengthening your arms, wrist flexors and hand muscles.
Basketball requires a wide range of physical skills, but it is also a fast-paced mental game. Research on the mental aspects of basketball has revealed that players must develop a great deal of attentional control to quickly and accurately process what's happening on the court and make effective decisions with the ball and on defense. Attentional control refers to your ability to direct your focus in a desired direction; in basketball, you must train yourself to constantly observe your teammates and opponents and evaluate what course of action to take in response to their actions. Research conducted by Dr. Daniel Gopher of the International Ergonomics Association suggests that the attentional control skills that you learn while playing basketball can even help you make quick decisions on the job and in other real-life situations.