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For kids looking to cut loose, play the game and try something new, the pickup games at Joe Dumars’ Fieldhouse in Detroit are a prime destination.
With its soaring 65-foot ceilings over four regulation-size courts, this “pure basketball gym,” a retro staple on the former Michigan State Fairgrounds, attracts up to 1,000 visitors each week for pickup games, classes and tournaments. Created by former Detroit Pistons player/current exec Joe Dumars, this community hot spot is open daily, with games stretching into late night.
A little basketball can actually be a boon to academics for kids, too. How? Sports often works as an incentive for kids to work hard in school, says Fred Hatcher, the field house’s general manager. It’s a fun reward – and healthy, to boot.
So many players of different ages and skill levels take to the courts at varying times. If you’re not sure when to swing by, Hatcher and his crew can advise you on the right “run” or fit for your young player.
Looking for something a bit more structured? The field house offers six- to seven-week basketball “academies,” which are scheduled based on interest. Classes promote teamwork and help kids develop relationships – both values that can give them a boost in the classroom, too, Hatcher says. Call or stop by to sign up and get the ball rolling.
Or, for a more individual workout, the field house can set your child up with a coach for personal lessons. Hatcher says his staff has worked with kids as young as age 5.
Get in gear before hitting the courts. Make sure you and your kids are dressed properly for the gym. Blue jeans aren’t allowed; you’ll need shorts or sweatpants. And, of course, don’t forget gym shoes!
Parents play an important role, too. The field house isn’t just for kids. Hatcher encourages moms, dads and guardians to come in and watch their kids. “It might be an inconvenience sometimes, but it speaks volumes to your kid to get involved, when you come out and support them,” he says. For kids under age 16, parents are welcome to drop kids off for a couple hours for some play; however, supervision is encouraged for more extended stays.
Courts are busiest Saturday and Sunday afternoons, Hatcher notes – and lots of adults tend to head out on weekends, which makes it a bit rougher for kids on the courts. To help avoid the waiting and bigger players, the best time to go is weekdays right after school.