Coach's Toolkit: 5 Simple Basketball Games for Kids

November 12, 2015

Brooke Tomasetti

As all coaches know, basketball can very quickly become competitive - aggressive even - if we let our teams spend all their time playing five on five games. The number one goal of youth basketball, however, is supposed to be to have fun.

Every coach wants to help their players have so much fun that all of them return to play the following season. Therefore, it's important to learn and then incorporate a few fun basketball games for kids to play at practice. 

Listed below are five simple basketball games for kids of all ages, heights and skill levels. The games build off the basketball drills for kids that we highlighted in a previous post focusing on basic basketball fundamentals. These games are all intended to help improve basic skills while letting players have fun: 

basketball games for kids

1. Knock Out

This is one of the most skillful basketball games for kids, as it requires players to practice improving their ability to shoot free throws while under pressure. You will need three or more players (the more the better) and two basketballs. Create a free throw line around ten to fifteen feet away from the backboard and line your team up in a single file line, giving the first two players in line a basketball each.

As soon as the first person in line releases the basketball to take their first shot, the next person in line can take their turn. The aim of this game is for the second person in line to make the basket before the person in front of them. If this happens, then the first player is out. However, if the first player makes their shot, they pass their ball to the third person in line and move to the back of the line. This continues until there is only one player left standing.

This fast paced game tests the players’ abilities to shoot under pressure, and can be exciting to play and to watch!

2. Island

To play this game, create an “island” within the lines of your basketball court, anything from half-court to full size depending on the number of players you have to work with.

The aim of this game is for all the players to dribble their own ball while trying to knock other player’s balls out of the island, all while staying inside the restrictive lines. If a ball leaves the island, that player is out. The game continues until the last player standing wins.

This dribbling game is designed to improve control and agility.

3. All Star Shootout

For this game, you need two or more players, preferably all around the same skill level.

Draw or create ten or more circles to shoot from around the court, each requiring different levels of shooting skill to make a basket. Designate points for each circle depending on their distances from the basket and give each player a piece of paper with the number of points received for shooting from each circle. Each player is given ten shots and they take it in turns to choose any circle to shoot from, using the same circle more than once if they wish.

At the end of the game, each player adds up their score and the highest score wins.

To make this shooting game more interesting, create a shooting circle worth a lot of points on the other side of the court or behind the basket to tempt players to risk wasting a shot for a large number of points. This will test their strategic thinking skills

4. Musical Basketballs

Of all the basketball games for kids, this one is pretty self-explanatory - it's like musical chairs but with basketballs.

For this game you need one basketball for each player and a speaker for playing music. Place all the balls around a circle and have the players walk around them as the music plays. As soon as you stop the music, each player takes a basketball as quickly as possible and shoots for the basket. Once a player has made the basket, they sit down – the last player standing is out.

This is a great game to play if your team seems too stressed or aggressive, it is a very fun way to get in some extra shooting practice.

5. Ready, aim, fire!

This fast-paced shooting game aims to improve agility and quick shooting. It requires two or more players.

Set up seven points around the basket for the players to shoot from and give each player a basketball. The object of this game is for each player to make a shot from all seven points around the basket with everyone taking shots at the same time. This goes on until one player has sunk every shot and can be declared the winner.

With this game it is better for you as the coach to stand off the court and keep score since it tends to get very hectic and confusing with all the players shooting at the same time.

Hopefully you discovered a few basketball games for kids that you're looking forward to trying out at your next practice. Good luck and remember to have fun!

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