H-O-R-S-E and Other Fun Basketball Games

8 months ago

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There’s no substitute for a traditional game of five-on-five, but every now and then it’s fun to mix things up on your home basketball court. Fortunately, there are a number of games you can play to keep things fresh, and accommodate groups of different sizes, ages and skill levels. From classics like H-O-R-S-E and Knockout, to kid-oriented games such as Musical Basketballs, here are five fun games to try.

Knock Out

Talent Level: Low-Moderate
Skills You’ll Improve: Shooting, layups
Number of Players: 3-10
How to Play: The players line up behind the free throw line, with the first two holding basketballs. The first player in line shoots. If he makes it, he passes the ball to the third player and goes to the back of the line. If he misses, the second player can “knock out” the player in front of him by scoring before the first player does. The games ends when every player but one has been knocked out. Watch a video tutorial here.

Around the World

Talent Level: Moderate-High
Skills You’ll Improve: 3-Point Shooting
Number of Players: 2-4
How to Play: There are many variations of this game, but we’ll focus on the 3-pointer version. The object is for each player to go “around the world” by making a 3-point shot from five different points: left corner, left elbow, straight-on, right elbow and right corner. Player one shoots first. If she makes the shot, she advances to the next spot. If she misses, she has two choices: she can either give the ball to player two and remain “safe” in her spot, or take another shot. If she misses her second shot, her progress is erased and she has to go back to the start.

Musical Basketballs

Talent Level: Low
Skills You’ll Improve: Layups, dribbling
Number of Players: 5-10
How to Play: The most classic of all the driveway hoops games, H-O-R-S-E is a fun, low-intensity way to brush up on your shooting skills. The object of the game is to match baskets. The game starts with player one shooting the ball from anywhere on the court. If he misses the shot, it’s player two’s turn. If he makes the shot, every other player must make the exact same shot, or they earn a letter. If a player accumulates five letters (which spells horse), he’s out. The last player standing wins.

H-O-R-S-E

Talent Level: Varies
Skills You’ll Improve: Shooting
Number of Players: 2-4
How to Play: The most classic of all the driveway hoops games, H-O-R-S-E is a fun, low-intensity way to brush up on your shooting skills. The object of the game is to match baskets. The game starts with player one shooting the ball from anywhere on the court. If he misses the shot, it’s player two’s turn. If he makes the shot, every other player must make the exact same shot, or they earn a letter. If a player accumulates five letters (which spells horse), he’s out. The last player standing wins.

Sharks and Minnows

Talent Level: Low-Moderate
Skills You’ll Improve: Dribbling, conditioning
Number of Players: 8-10
How to Play: One or two players volunteer to be sharks; the rest are minnows. The sharks start at half court, while the minnows start at the baseline. Only the minnows have basketballs. The object for minnows is to dribble the ball from one baseline to the other, without having it stolen by a shark. The object for sharks is to steal or knock away as many balls as possible. If a minnow loses his ball, he becomes a shark in the next round. The last minnow remaining wins.


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