Life Skills Students Learn Through Basketball at Hi5

By: Radhakrishnan Sundar

At Hi5, we want to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged children through the game of basketball, where sports is not the medium but the platform for them to develop improved life-skills, better their performance, and build aspirations to do well in their future. We have learnt a lot from our time in the US, seeing our sons grow up and play basketball and have deeply reflected on the state of basketball in India. Having said that, here are the life skills we try introducing students to through the platform of basketball:

a) Decision-making

When our younger son was in middle school, he attempted a 3-pointer in a basketball game, which in middle school is a difficult shot to achieve consistently, largely because of your body weight and height. It was a shot that the coach had instructed the team not to attempt because of its low success probability. Because the rule is simple, you must make every possession count in the game. So, when he attempted it successfully the coach didn’t laud him but benched him immediately! It’s an important lesson because this taught him to respect and understand the rules and guidelines of the game—never take a low percentage action or decision on the court that can affect your entire team’s performance.

b) Team-work

Like we mentioned in our previous blog post on why we chose basketball, teamwork is a valuable life skill that basketball teaches you. Something as simple as learning to assist in a game, making the right pass at the right time to let your teammate take the score has a lot of impact on how to work in a team in life.

c) Independence

As an NGO, we provide the students with meals, jerseys, socks and shoes, where the socks are to be taken home and shoes to be left behind. We question the students why we do this. They promptly respond that after use the socks will smell and it cannot be left at the center, that it needs to be washed. We prompt them to wash the socks by themselves personally and not their parents. We have a simple rule to enforce this—if you don’t bring your socks, you will not be issued shoes. The children listen, observe, reason with our explanation and act upon it, which is a great success!

d) Discipline

For instance, on the first day we gave them snacks after the end of a session, everyone tried to grab it before the other gets its and chaos occurred. Once we told them that each student will receive one and that they have to await their turn to get their snack, they settled down. And slowly, they started listening to us to approach the food in a line. And now everything that they do, while the playing game or not, they do it with a personal discipline.

e) Empathy & respect

Being empathetic in life can take you a long way and it’s an important everyday life skill that many miss. We try to bring about a culture where students interact with another nicely. Like for example, when they’re playing the game, we encourage them to say ‘thank you’ if someone passes the ball to them. We extended this exercise in their homes, asking them to say 6 ‘thank yous’ in a day, which then becomes a habit of being kind and appreciative of someone who does something for you. We also urge them to encourage one another in the sport, irrespective of their gender or strength, and help each other to get better.

f) Healthy lifestyle

There’s a sort of discipline that comes into your routine once you start playing a sport. From eating right, waking up early, going to bed early to time management and there are some qualities that students at Hi5 are already adopting. We have testimonials from parents who’re relieved that their child is managing their time better and following a routine that keeps them healthy and strong.

These are among the many life-skills that we focus on imbibing students to at Hi5 Youth Foundation. Learn more about how Hi5 also helps its students become gender sensitive in our next blog post!