Basketball helps homeless thru rhythm and the brain

Drumming for basbetball workshops aid movement, timing, and on court communications
Drumming for basbetball workshops aid movement, timing, and on court communications

I gave a basketball lesson to a homeless man @ my area park today. And he really got made. Research shows basketball, drumming, and other physical movement activities can help the homeless. In addition, the resulting dialogue from the activity further aids the brain & mental health.

I shoot at the court twice a week and run a series of movement, balance, and applied kinesiology (AK) drills to help with health issues due to my hydrocephalus (brain) and stress. I normally don’t like to shoot or involves others, as it can be a distraction from a good work out, esp. homeless people who frequent this park. Sometimes I also incorporate drumming too. But without instruments, I incorporate my rhythm & movement thru timing of footwork, dribbling, moving, and shooting. So when this homeless guy walked up today hoping to play, he didn’t realize he was walking into my basketball CLASS!

Activities such as basketball, and drumming too, highly involve muscle memory, or proprioception. Though movement originates in the brain, once started and the body engaged, your body and muscle memory take over thru rhythmic movement, patterning, footwork, and shooting. An auto-pilot of sorts of body movement with little thinking (ideally). If you follow sports, you will hear a lot of experts speak about the importance of footwork. And footwork along with dribbling is something I work rigorously on the court, and which I worked with this gentleman today.

In the homeless population, activities like basketball and drumming are ideal for confidence, self-esteem, and managing stress. It is widely recognized that movement engages the hemispheres of the brain, and quiets the mind. And in these regards, basketball, drumming, and rhythmic movement are then good for mental health. Back in 2011-12, I put on drumming at the Friendship Shelter in Laguna Beach for just these reasons, and sharing my knowledge.

So, when decided to let this homeless guy join me today, he became part of my class, and I proceeded to give him tips and direction on shooting. The move I gave him, the move he wanted to know. It was an off day for me as I’m not feeling that great. But still I was able to shoot well enough that he saw I know what I’m talking about. And it is cool to watch this at work. As the guy began to improve and complete some shots, his success drew happiness, appreciation, and dialogue, and then he began to reminisce about his father growing up, and playing sports in high school. I bet he hadn’t seen his family in a long time. He had a friend with him too, but this man was not sober or well enough to join us. But he seemed to benefit from our positive energy and his friend’s joyfulness on the court.

Boss BR-8 includes a full 50 selection Metronome
Boss BR-8 includes a full 50 selection Metronome

Please SEE my 2002 cognitive neuroscience study on sound and sound processing in sensory processing disorder, or SPD, where I employed a Boss recorder and metronome a conducted a review of some 50 rhythmic patterns. I later correlated improved tolerance to white noise sound from participation in group drumming.

In June 2015, after initial publish of this blog, I authored an in depth related blog:

Brain Science vs. the Sports Science of Basketball

I’ve also undertaken some efforts with cognitive accessibility with the following domain which currently points to the cognitive accessibility page on my web site:


Cognitive currently under construction
Cognitive currently under construction

DolleCommunications Blog on Cognitive Accessibility and Sound Sensory Processing

Here is a cool story of outreach using basketball to help the homeless, entitled

Jesus, Basketball, and the Homeless

Contact me for more information on speaking, consulting, or to schedule a drum circle.

Stephen Dolle
Dolle Communications
Drum Circle Facilitation, Neurological Hydrocephalus Consults, mHealth
Email: contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com