Fun Basketball Games for Practice
While intense basketball practices should include tough drills, film sessions and scrimmages, mixing in both competitive basketball games and fun basketball games is always a good idea as well, especially for beginner and youth basketball practices.
Sharks and Minnows
Sharks and Minnows is a perfect basketball drill for younger players because it covers two extremely important fundamentals in the sport: ball handling and conditioning.
How it Works
- Before the game begins, the coach selects one player from the team to be the ‘shark’
- The entire team, except for the shark, lines up on the baseline. The shark lines up somewhere in between the free-throw line and half-court line, facing the team
- On coach’s whistle, the players on the baseline, also known as the ‘minnows,’ must dribble the length of the full court
- While the minnows attempt to dribble to the other baseline, the shark attempts to swipe at the other players’ balls and disrupt their dribble
- If a minnow’s ball is hit out of bounds or they do not make it to the other side of the court, they become a shark
- If a minnow makes it to the opposite baseline without having their ball swiped away, they advance to the next round and do it all over again
- This pattern continues until the last player is standing as a minnow, and they are deemed the winner
Sharks and minnows is often used as a warm-up for younger basketball players, but it is sometimes seen at all skill levels as a quick and fun way to mix things up.
Dribble knockout is another fun and easy basketball drill for a team to work on dribbling with their eyes up.
How it Works
- All players begin within the full outline of the basketball court
- On coach’s whistle, the players begin to move around and attempt to knock other players’ balls out of bounds while maintaining their own dribble
- If a player picks up their dribble while attempting to eliminate another player, they themselves are eliminated, as a dribble must be held throughout the entirety of the game
- As the number of players still in the game decreases, the coach will make the dimensions of the playing field smaller, such as going down to half court, to within the free throw lane, and to within the center circle for the final two players
- The last player standing is deemed the winner
Around the World
Around the World is one of the more popular basketball shooting games, and can be described as a shootout between two or more players.
Traditionally, this is how it works:
- Two or more players pre-determine five total spots on the basketball court that they will take turns shooting from
- With all players beginning from the same spot, the first person will shoot and attempt to make the shot
- If the first player makes it, they advance to the second spot. But before they shoot the second shot, the second person in line shoots from the first spot. If the second player misses their first shot, they will remain at that first spot while the first shooter shoots from the second spot, but if they make it, they also advance to the second spot (to simplify: if a player makes a shot, they advance to the next spot. If a player misses a shot, they keep shooting at the same spot until they make it)
The goal of the game is to make it from all five spots going forwards and then all five spots coming backwards before anyone else, meaning that the winner will have made a total of ten shots.
Around the world is usually played using five spots around the three-point line, but if players want to work on shooting skills from various areas on the court, they are free to do so in this particular shooting drill.
Basketball Drag Race
Basketball Drag Race is a basketball drill that teaches a player how to dribble quickly under pressure and make a layup.
How it Works
- Divide the team into two groups of six players, and line both groups up at the baseline on opposite sides of the court
- Assign each player a number, 1 through 6
- Call out a number and blow your whistle, and the player who corresponds to the number then runs to midcourt as fast as she can, picks up a basketball and dribbles in for a layup
- The first player to successfully make a layup gets a point for her team, and the first team to reach 10 points wins
S-Dribble is another basketball drill that is good for players of all age and skill level.
How it Works
- Have six players line up on the court in a shape resembling the letter "S,” and line the rest of the players up at midcourt
- When you blow your whistle, the first player in line will dribble around each player in the "S." He will dribble to the right of the first player, the left of the next player, and continue in this manner until he has gone by all six players
- Finally, have the dribblers form the "S" and the other group of six do the dribbling
War is an intense basketball drill that involves one on one competition.
How it Works
- Have six players line up on one sideline and the other six players line up on the other sideline
- Assign each team of players a number, 1 through 6
- Shout a number and blow your whistle, to which both players will run to center court
- The player that gets to the basketball first is on offense and the other player defends him
- The player with the ball tries to score and can use his teammates on the sideline to pass to and help him get an open shot, and after the first player makes a shot or his opponent stops him by getting a rebound or stealing the ball, they switch places
- After each player gets an offensive opportunity, two other players follow the same procedure
The first team to get 15 points wins.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.