Fun basketball games for kids can spark interest, make the game more enjoyable, and encourage players to practice longer and with more enthusiasm. The following games can be used on your own driveway or park hoop and in organized youth basketball practices.
One of the great things about most of these games is that they can be played – or at least practiced – with just one player.
So, if you have sons or daughters interested in basketball, introduce one of these games to them. Encourage them to teach friends. And, have them practice to improve their skills and just have fun!
1.) Around the World
This is a shooting game where players compete by shooting from 7 selected spots on the basketball court. Select spots that are within a player’s shooting distance, e.g. for 12 year-olds, shots are within a 12 feet to 18 feet distance.
The goal of the game is to move “around the world” in a counter-clockwise direction by making shots from the first spot to the last spot.
To start the game, the first player shoots from the first spot. If the player makes the basket, the player moves to the next spot. If the player misses the shot, the player can call, “Chance.” If the player misses the second shot (the Chance shot), she moves to the end of the line, and the next player starts their turn shooting.
For the early spots, “chancing it” is a common strategy. But, as you progress and make shots from a few of the spots, players are faced with the dilemma of knowing that a missed shot will wipe out their progress. Not chancing it, and staying in place, keeps your progress but forces you to give up your turn.
The first person to successfully make all of their shots from the selected spots wins the game.
Number of Players:
1 – 10+
- Around the World and Back — Players must make all of the shots in one direction and then repeat the shots going the other direction.
- Add a more difficult shot for the last shot of the game, e.g. a three-pointer.
- Reduce the number of shooting spots from seven to five.
Around the World Video
2.) The Mikan Drill Game
Named after “Mr. Basketball” George Mikan, this game calls for players to shoot layups off their inside foot with their outside hand alternating sides of the basket for 30 seconds. The goal is to make the most baskets in that amount of time.
For younger kids, allow them to shoot off of both feet. This is a great game to teach rebounding, keeping the ball up high under the basket, and finishing layups. If you’re at a court that has multiple hoops, assign 2-3 players to each hoop, and while one shoots, have the others count the made baskets. It can also be played by one player in the driveway or park.
Number of Players
1 – 12 players
- Players can be required to make all of their shots as reverse layups.
- Each shot must be taken off two feet.
- Increase the time to 60 seconds.
The Mikan Drill Video
3.) Best Swishes
Two players stand opposite each other on opposite sides of the key by the first block (12 feet apart and 6 feet from the goal).
Taking alternative turns shooting the basketball, you receive +1 point if you swish the shot, 0 points if you make it but don’t swish, and -1 if you miss the shot. A swish is defined as the ball going through without hitting the rim.
The goal is to be the first person to reach 5 points or to have a 5-point differential between you and your opponent. So, for example, you could win if you have 2 points and your opponent has -3 points — note the 5 point differential.
Number of Players
2 players — But, if you have multiple hoops in a gym setting, more players could play, e.g. 6 hoops = 12 players.
- Players must shoot the opposite hand.
- Move the distance back for each player by three feet.
Also known as Lightning, this game is traditionally a player favorite in the under 12 years of age category. Players line up at the free-throw line. The first two players in line each have a basketball.
The object of the game is for the second player that is shooting to make his shot before the first player makes a shot. The first shot a player takes is from the free-throw line, but subsequent shots can be taken from any location. The way this plays out is that if a player misses the first shot, the second shot is usually taken from a few feet away from the basket.
As soon as player one takes their first shot, player two can shoot. Each shooter must make a shot prior to the next person in line making their shot in order to stay in the game.
If the second player makes their shot before the first, the first player is “knocked out” of the game. The last person still playing after all the other players have been knocked out is the winner.
The game creates dramas as players are competing against each other to make a shot before the next player in line can make theirs. In addition to teaching shooting skills, it also works on poise under pressure.
Number of Players
Works best with 5 – 12 players, but can be played with two or more.
- No Backboard Shots: All shots cannot hit the backboard first. If a shot hits the backboard first, count it as a miss and continue on.
- Move shots from the free-throw line to the 3 point line (best for older kids).
Knockout – Basketball Games for Kids Video
5.) H-O-R-S-E — Basketball Games For Kids
To begin to play for Horse, players decide on an order of shooting, e.g. youngest player to oldest player or by calling out “First,” “Second” and so on. Or, play multiple games and take turns going first.
The first player designated to shoot can shoot from anywhere on the court or off. If that player makes the basket, the second player must attempt to make the same shot.
If the second player makes the basket, it goes on to the third player. However, if the second player misses the shot, that player earns a letter. If it’s the first miss, the player would earn an “H.” At that point, the third player can shoot from anywhere. This pattern continues until all but one player earns five letters spelling out HORSE.
Part of the fun of this game is that in addition to the spot of the shot, the shooting player can also make designations before shooting the shot. For example, a shooter might designate “This must be made off the backboard” or “you must shoot with your left hand (off-hand).”
Number of Players
2 – 10+. Usually works best with 2 – 6 players.
- Not enough time to play a full game of H-O-R-S-E, shorten the game by playing P-I-G.
- Punish players taking shots that are too easy. If everyone down the line makes the shot that the first player did, the first player earns a letter.
6.) The “21” game
This is a shooting game, where the first player starts by shooting from the free-throw line. If the player makes the free throw attempt, the player earns one point and gets to shoot again from the free-throw line.
If the free throw attempt is missed, the player must hurry to grab the rebound. The player shoots from where the rebound was retrieved. If that shot is made, the player gets two points. Then, the second player begins their turn by starting at the free-throw line. Play continues in this pattern.
The first person to score 21 points wins!
Number of Players
2 – 4 Players.
- Players must score 21 exactly. If they exceed that number, they go back to 13 points.
- Limit the number of free throws made to three. After three free throws are successfully made by one player, the shooting player is defended in one-on-one style play. If the shooting player makes the shot going against the defender, they receive two points, plus the right to return to the free-throw line.
Note: Do you have any fun basketball games for kids you’d like for us to share? Please let us know via the contact page.
7.) The 1-3-5 Shooter Game
Players are challenged to earn as many points as they can in 60 seconds of shooting. Here is how points are earned:
- One point: any shot made in the paint except for layups.
- Three points: Any shot made outside of the paint but not at three-point line distance.
- Five points: Any shots made from beyond the three-point line.
The non-shooting player(s) keep a running tally of the points accumulated so the shooter knows.
Number of Players
2 – 8 Players.
- Double the score if you make any of the shots with your off-hand, e.g. a right-hander who makes a three-pointer left-handed gets 10 points!
- Shorten the three-point and five-point shooting distances for younger players.
- Add this rule to the game: No two shots can be made successively from the same spot.
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We hope you enjoyed our collection of fun basketball games for kids. The more fun kids having playing the game, the more likely they’ll want to return for more. As Anatole France once wrote, “90 percent of education is encouragement.” Encourage more; criticize less.
— Mike O’Halloran
Mike is the editor of Sports Feel Good Stories and has written three books on coaching youth basketball including Layups and Life Lessons: 101 Coaching Tips For Youth Basketball.
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