Kids love any kind of game involving a ball. Basketball games work well to improve skill and provide fun to children of every age. Even the youngest child will love our games based upon childhood classics. Remember that dribbling is a skill a child can begin to learn in kindergarten.
Table of Contents
We begin with Basketball Shooting Games designed to help your team or child improve their basketball skills. Next, we have some Fun Basketball Games for those times when you simply want to have fun with the basketball on the court or off. Our concluding section, Basketball Activities, use the basketball in fun and innovative ways. We think whichever game you choose, you are guaranteed to enjoy it and play it many times.
Basketball Shooting Games
Learning to improve one’s basketball skills is more fun for kids when it involves playing games. Use our Basketball Shooting games for team drills, PE classes, or to improve your kid’s shooting skills at home.
Beat the Buzzer
Choose positions on the basketball court from which you want your players to shoot baskets. You can base your choices on the age and experience of your players. Choose a reasonable time for your players to attempt to make baskets. You may wish to start at ten seconds and increase the time after each player has made their first attempt. The player who makes the most baskets within the set time wins.
The Minnow and the Sharks
You need at least two players for this game, one to be the Minnow, and one to be the Shark. If you have many players, you can divide them into two groups, one serving as Minnows, and the other as Sharks. The goal of this game is for the Minnows to dribble the ball from one baseline to the other without losing the ball.
When the whistle is blown or “Start!” is called, the Minnows start dribbling down the court. The Sharks attempt to steal the balls before the Minnows reach the baseline. Additionally, the Minnow attempts to shoot a basket while dribbling.
If a Minnow loses the ball, they become a Shark on the next round. Once all the players have turned into Sharks, the game is over. The last remaining Minnow is the winner.
Red Light, Green Light
Either the coach, teacher, or a team member stands on one baseline and serves as the caller and judge. The players stand on the opposite baseline, each with a basketball, and turn with their back to the judge. When the judge calls out “Green Light!” the players with the balls turn around and begin running and dribbling towards the opposite baseline. If the judge calls out “Red Light!” they must stop. If a player is caught moving after the judge calls out “Red Light!” they must return to the baseline. The first player to reach the opposite baseline wins.
- The judge can also call out, “Shoot!” and the players must stop and shoot from where they are at on the court. If they miss the basket, they are out. This variation works well with more experienced players.
- Players take turns dribbling down the court and shoot at the basket when “Red Light!” is called out. If the player makes the basket, the rest of the players must take turns shooting from the same spot. Those who miss are out. This variation works well with a smaller group of players.
Around the World
The players start at the three-point line on the basketball court. They take a shot and, if they make it, they move to the next spot on the three-point line and take a shot from there. If they miss, they continue to shoot from the same spot until they make a basket. The goal is to move down the entire line without missing a shot – a real challenge. However, every player continues to shoot baskets down the line until they finish “Around the World.” If all players are missing shots, the first to successfully finish the course will be the winner.
Begin this fun game by setting up cones on the basketball court to designate shooting positions. Blow a whistle or call out “Start!” A player chooses any cone from which to take a shot. After they take their first shot, the second player can go to a different cone and make a shot. If the second player succeeds in making a basket before the first player, the first player is out and stands on the sideline. When a player makes a basket, they pass the basketball back another player from half-court. The next player in line runs to a different cone and makes a shot before passing the ball to the next player, attempting to eliminate his opponent. This continues until all players have made a shot and only one player remains, who is the winner.
Divide your players in to two teams, one at one baseline and the other at the opposite baseline. The game remains the same, but instead of eliminating players, the first team to have all their players successfully finish their shots wins the game.
Fun Basketball Games
Sometimes you need a game that simply breaks the pace and relaxes your group of basketball players. In this section, the concentration is on fun. Our first fun basketball game works well for very young children. The second game is for any age group. The remainder of the games in this section work best for kids with some basketball experience.
Younger kids will enjoy this game, as it is easy and always seems fresh and exciting. Begin by having the players choose a category such as fruits, vegetables, animals, or cars. The players choose four different kinds of things in that category. Then each player secretly decides which thing he will be. For example, if they choose animals as the category and the types are cat, dog, mouse, and monkey, they will decide which animal they want to be. Then the coach, teacher, or one team member stands at the center of the playing area and serves as the caller. (For a large group, you may need two or more callers.) Choose the size of your playing area based upon the size of your group and their ages. Baseline to half-court or sideline to sideline works well. The caller yells out a type, for example, “Dog!” All the players who chose dog as their secret animal begin dribbling to the other side of the playing area. The caller attempts to knock the balls out of bounds. If a player loses his ball, he must return to the spot where he lost it and place the ball on the floor between his feet. He stays in that spot and reaches out to try to knock the ball from any dribbler that goes by. At any time, the caller can yell out the name of the category, and all the players go at once. The last player left dribbling his ball is declared the winner.
Fox in the Henhouse
For this fast-paced fun basketball game that works well for any age, each player has a basketball. The court serves as the henhouse and the players are the chickens. One player, coach, or the teacher is the Fox. The chickens dribble their balls around the court. Then the Fox calls out, “Fox in the henhouse!” and runs after the chickens trying to knock the balls out of their hands and out of bounds. Every chicken who loses their ball becomes a Fox. However, if a player can retrieve their ball before it goes out of bounds, they can continue to be a chicken. The winner is the last person left as a chicken and gets to be the Fox for the next round.
This baseball-inspired basketball game works well with a larger group. You divide your players into two teams, one that will be shooters and one that will be dribblers. The dribblers have a basketball and attempt to make a home run by dribbling the ball around half the court or the designated playing area and back to the starting point. Meanwhile, a player on the shooting team lines up at the free throw line and attempts to make a basket before the dribbler completes his course. If the dribbler succeeds, he scores a homerun. If the shooter makes the basket before the dribbler returns to the starting point, he yells out, “Stop!” and that dribbler is out. The next dribbler takes a turn. After all the dribblers have a turn and are out, the teams switch places. At the end of the game, the team with the most homeruns scored wins.
As in the actual game of golf, the player scoring the lowest points wins. You need at least two players, but the game also works well for a group. To begin, pick a predetermined spot from which the player must make a basket. If the basket is made, the player scores a point. If not, the player must shoot from wherever he grabs the rebounded basketball. The score becomes the total number of shots each player must make to get the basketball into the basket. Therefore, the player with the lowest score wins.
Divide your group into two teams with each team lining up facing each other behind the baselines. Give a ball to the first person in the line. The goal is to dribble the ball down the court and back as fast as possible. The ball is then handed to the next member of the team. Play continues until all team members have raced. The team that completes the race first wins the game.
Choose a player to be a thief for every four players on the court. Players each have a ball and dribble around the court trying to keep possession of their basketballs while the thieves attempt to steal them. If a thief steals a basketball or knocks it out of bounds, they change places with the person who lost their basketball. The goal of the game is to keep from being a thief. The player who manages to do so is the winner.
Basketballs are not just for those who want to play an actual basketball game. In this section, we have activities that work well for parties and other occasions.
Ball in the Basket
This game does not need a basketball court; any large clear area will work. You can use buckets, baskets, boxes, or any large container that will hold a basketball. Place your containers in different spots around a designated space. Players take turns throwing the basketball into as many baskets as possible within an allotted time. Choose a time based upon your players’ age and experience. You can declare a winner in two different ways:
- The player who makes the most baskets in the allotted time is the winner.
- Assign points based on the difficulty of each container’s size and position and the player with the most points wins.
Basketball Freeze Dance
Begin by giving each player a basketball. Play some lively music and direct the kids to dribble in time to the beat. Stop the music every few minutes. Players must freeze in place and the last player to do so is out. Continue until only one player is left, who is declared the winner.
Give each player a basketball and direct them to run around the playing area. One person is “It” and tries to tag the other players. Any tagged player must stand in one spot and dribble their ball. The last person to be in the playing area and not frozen in place wins this game.
A take on the old favorite Musical Chairs, this game can be played either on the court or off. For an off-court game, have the kids walk around a circle of basketballs, with one less than the number of players. Play music and each time the music stops, each player must grab a basketball. The player without a ball is out. Play continues until only one player remains. On the court, have the players shoot after they grab a ball until they make a basket.
Based on the Hot Potato game, players stand in a circle and pass the ball from player to player. Each player must dribble the ball three times before passing it on. You can either play music and stop it or simply call out, “Stop!” The player caught with the ball is out. The last player standing is the winner.
This game is designed for three players, but if you have a large group, you can simply divide them into groups of three. Two players dribble the ball and throw it back and forth between them. The third player is in the middle and attempts to steal the ball. If the player in the middle is successful, trade places with the player who had the ball just before the steal. This game has no winner or losers. Play simply continues as long as the kids enjoy it.
A fast-paced, simple activity, the kids love the chaotic craziness of this basketball court game. Assign spots for each player on the court. At a given signal, the blowing of a whistle or yelling, “Go!” everyone attempts to make a basket at the same time. Of course, balls knock each other out of the way. Whoever makes a basket first, wins.
Whether you have a neighborhood court, play at school, or have a basketball hoop attached above your garage door, our Basketball Games for Kids will provide practice, increased skill, and fun. Grab a basketball and start dribbling and shooting!
Susan majored in English with a double minor in Humanities and Business at Arizona State University and earned a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Liberty University. She taught grades four through twelve in both public and private schools. Subjects included English, U.S. and world history and geography, math, earth and physical science, Bible, information technologies, and creative writing.
Susan has been freelance writing for over ten years, during which time she has written and edited books, newspaper articles, biographies, book reviews, guidelines, neighborhood descriptions for realtors, Power Point presentations, resumes, and numerous other projects.