March Madness is upon us once again – college basketball fever in the USA. A hearty game of Air Basketball will help your kids to find their own shining moment; not only will they have oodles of fun, but kids learn about their breath and develop vital self-regulation skills through play. Encourage kids to play this game against themselves with the goal to improve their score each time.
What is Air Basketball and how does it help?
A variation of the breathing game Air Soccer (from Teach Your Child Meditation by Lisa Roberts Sterling 2018), Air Basketball is a fun way for kids to learn about using the breath as a self-regulation tool and experience first-hand how controlling the breath can positively affect how they feel physically and emotionally. Air Basketball is a lot of fun and can be played alone or with friends.
What will I need?
• Straws (paper, of course! Bendy ones provide a little extra help to maneuver the pom-pom)
• Small pom-poms (½-1”)
• 3 x Dixie Cups (numbered 1, 2 and 3 on the inside bottom of cup with a sharpie)
• Scotch tape
How do I do it?
• Tilt Dixie Cups on the side with the open end facing toward the player and scotch tape to the surface of table or yoga mat.
• Place the cups as follows:
• Cup 1 (1-point) directly facing and relatively close where you will be playing
• Cup 2 (2-points) a little farther away and angled slightly to make it a little more challenging
• Cup 3 (3-points) farther away and angled to be the most challenging to reach
• Place pom-pom at starting point gently blow through the straw to move the pom-pom into a basket (cup)
• Play freely for 1-2 mins to get a feel for the set-up and the game
• Now it’s time to play! Set a timer or play a fun song (for example, the Harlem Globetrotters theme song, Sweet Georgia Brown) and see how many baskets you hit and how many points you get for the duration of song or set time. Don’t forget to keep track of your total score!
• How did you go? Did you notice anything about how you breathed to move the ball?
• Try again and breathe different ways – short powerful bursts of breath through the straw and long gentle controlled breaths through the straw.
• Did a certain way of breathing help you to control the pom-pom better? Which breathing technique worked best? Which felt better and more sustainable for long games?
• How about another round to see if you can improve your score by using the breath that gave you the most control and felt better in your body?
*Tip: The aim in Air Basketball is the have control of the pom-pom to score as many baskets as possible. Short bursts of breath will send your pom-pom flying, but you won’t have control. Deep inhales with long controlled exhales will help you direct your ball toward the baskets. Notice how breathing this way makes you feel.
Teachers and parents: When playing any of the “Air Sports” games I share on this blog or in my books, the eyes converge and diverge as they set and track the movement of the pom-pom. Converging and diverging the eyes is developmentally supportive of reading ability, making these games a wonderful reading preparatory tool for preschoolers.