14 Fun Basketball Games For All Ages, With Instructions


I’ve played basketball my entire life, and over the years I’ve compiled a list of the most fun basketball games that anyone can play. These fun basketball games are a good way to keep from getting bored while shooting at the hoop, but will still improve your skills as you play.

Top 14 Fun Basketball Games:

  1. Knock Out
  2. Horse
  3. Basketball Golf
  4. Sharks And Minnows
  5. Around The World
  6. Firing Squad
  7. Fox In The Hen House
  8. Basketball Pirate
  9. Dribble Knock Out
  10. Red Light Green Light
  11. Home Run
  12. Basketball Tag
  13. Buzzer Beater
  14. All Star Shoot Out

Of course, you can always fall back on the team setup games like 2 vs 2 classic style basketball. But here are some popular basketball games that will keep you having fun on the court for hours on end.

1. Knock Out

Knock is one of the most popular fun basketball games and is at the top of the list for a reason. This game requires two basketballs and at least 2 or more players. If you’re playing in your driveway or not on an official court, you will need to designate a free throw line to shoot from.

Here are the rules:

  • Players line up at the free throw line
  • The first two players get a basketball
  • The first person at the line shoots for a basket
  • If he makes it, he passes the ball to the next in line and gets in the back of the line
  • If the first shooter misses the basket, the second shooter has a chance to ‘knock them out’ by making their basket before shooter 1
  • The first shooter may rebound his ball and try for a basket again from anywhere on the court
  • If shooter 1 makes the basket before the shooter behind them, they pass the ball to the next player in line and get in the back of the line
  • Game continues until only one player is left

As you play you will notice it can get pretty hectic down by the hoop as the players are trying to make a basket. Normally, you are not allowed to touch another players ball. But we like to add a rule where you can hit another players ball further from the hoop with your own ball. Only your ball can touch another players ball.

Here’s a video explaining how to play knock out and some example play.

https://youtu.be/C_0ccXOz2QI

2. Horse

Horse requires one basketball and at least two players or more. This is a game of shooting skill. You won’t need to be on an official court and you won’t need any other special equipment.

How to play:

  • Find out who will be shooting first, flip a coin or play rock paper scissors
  • The first shooter picks any location on the court to shoot from
  • If player 1 makes their basket, they remain shooter 1 and all other players must make the same shot from the same location
  • If shooter 1 misses their basket, the second shooter will now get to shoot from anywhere on the court
  • If you miss a shot made by an original shooter you get a letter, the first letter being ‘H’
  • When you have enough letters to spell out ‘Horse’ you are out of the game
  • The game continues until only one player is remaining

For shorter games we will often play ‘Pig’. It follows the same rules just with less letters for a quicker game. We also like to add moves into the mix. For example, if shooter one does a layup, the rest of the shooters must also do a layup.

This can get a little ridiculous, but can also make the game much more fun. Try spinning around three times and then taking a shot, if you make it now the rest of the players must also spin around three times and sink a basket, or get a letter.

3. Basketball Golf

Basketball golf is fun game that helps you get better at shooting from different locations around a basketball court. You will need one basketball and at least 2 or more players. Start by picking ‘holes’ or locations the players will need to shoot from on the court. Set a smaller amount of ‘holes’ for quicker games.

Here’s how you play:

  • The first player starts on the first ‘hole’ and shoots for a basket
  • If a player makes the basket, it counts as one shot
  • If a player misses, they must try for a basket again wherever they rebound the ball
  • Every shot a player takes counts as one ‘stroke’ or one shot until they make a basket
  • Then player 2 goes and so one through all the ‘holes’ or shooting locations that were set before hand
  • The player with the lowest score at the end wins

This game can get a bit frustrating for players that have a bad ‘hole’ and can’t seem to make a basket. So sometimes we implement a 4 or 5 shot max at the holes to keep the game interesting and the scores closer together. If a player misses 4 times on the same hole, they move on to the next hole without incurring any more ‘strokes’ or shots.

4. Sharks And Minnows

Sharks and minnows is fun basketball game that doesn’t even require that you have a hoop. You will want four or more players and enough basketballs for at least half the amount of players you have. This game works best on a court with a half court marking, but can be played anywhere.

How to play:

  • Start with 1 or 2 players as sharks
  • The sharks stand at half court without a basketball
  • The rest of the players start at one end of the court and have to dribble a basketball to the other end, they are the minnows
  • The sharks will try to steal a basketball or knock it out of bounds
  • If a minnow loses their basketball before crossing the court, they will be sharks in the next round
  • Once all the minnows became sharks or made it to the other end of the court, the next round will begin
  • The minnows will have to dribble back to the other end of the court avoiding the sharks again
  • The game ends when there are no more minnows left

We like to pick the last two minnows to be sharks if we start another game of sharks and minnows. Kids love this game and will spend hours playing. You can implement your own ‘house rules’ for example, sharks must stay within 10 feet of half court.

5. Around The World

Around the world can be played alone with just a basketball and a hoop. This is a shooting skill game and is usually done behind the three point line, but you can mark wherever you want the shots to be taken yourself.

How to play:

  • Player will start to the side of the basket behind the three point line and take the first shot
  • Once that shot is made the player moves to a 45 degree angle from the basket for another shot
  • The third shot is taken directly in front of the basket
  • The player continues until they have made it all the way around the perimeter of the three point line and back to the starting position
  • If the player misses a shot, they must start back at the beginning

To make this game more fun, we don’t start back at the beginning when we miss a shot. Instead we keep shooting at that point until a basket is made. If you have more than one person, try having another player start on the other end of the three point arch and see who can make their way around the arch and back first. If you have more than 2 people, try the firing squad variation instead.

Here’s a video of some guys playing around the world with their own variation of shooting locations.

6. Firing Squad

Firing squad is a lot like around the world but you will need more than two people and a basketball for each player. The setup is the same as around the world though, you will need to designate where shots will be taken in an arch around the hoop, usually the three point line, or closer for kids.

How to play:

  • Each player starts with a ball and starts at one of the shooting points
  • The game will start and everyone will be able to shoot at the hoop all at the same time
  • You are not allowed to touch another players basketball
  • The game is over when a player makes at least one basket from each of the shooting positions

To add some competition to this game we allow hitting another players ball only with your own ball in your hands. Once the game starts, under the hoop becomes a mad house of players retrieving their ball.

7. Fox In The Hen House

This game is similar to sharks and minnows but can involve shooting if you’d like. You will need at least 3 players and a basketball for every player except one.

Here’s how to play:

  • Start with every player except one dribbling a basketball on the court (the chickens)
  • The fox then runs out and tries to steal or knock the ball away from the chickens
  • If a chicken loses their ball they will then become a fox
  • The last chicken left is the winner and will become the fox for the next game

We like to add a little variation to this game where the chicken has a redemption shot at the hoop. If they can sink a basket from wherever the fox got them out, they can remain a chicken.

8. Basketball Pirate

You will need at least four players and three basketballs. This game works better with more players though, more than 6 players is best. Select one pirate for every four players you have.

Here’s how to play:

  • All the non-pirate players will start by dribbling the ball on the court
  • The pirates will run out and try to steal a ball from another player
  • If the pirate steals the ball or knocks it away from a player, those players switch roles now. The player dribbling now becomes a pirate and the pirate will now dribble the ball
  • When a player becomes a pirate they must run to the sidelines before attempting to steal a ball from another player
  • This game can last as long as you’d like
  • The winner is the player who was a pirate the least

Sometimes to keep the games shorter, we’ll play pirates until there is only one player left who has not been a pirate yet. That player is the winner.

9. Dribble Knock Out

Dribble knock out is fun game that will test your hand eye coordination and dribbling skills. You will need at least two players and a basketball for every player, but you won’t need a basketball hoop. This game is sometimes referred to as ‘Island’.

How to play:

  • Designate an area for the game to be played in (half court, inside the paint, etc.)
  • Each player will start by dribbling their ball
  • Players will try to steal or knock out of bounds the other players ball while still maintaining their own dribble
  • If a players ball is knocked out of bounds, they are out for the rest of the game
  • The game ends when one player is left still dribbling

We like to start with a full court area and shrink the court as players are knocked out. For example, more than six players will use the entire court, once there are six players left we shrink to half court. Once there are three players left we shrink to inside the paint. If a ball leaves the designated area, it is considered out of bounds. This shrinking court helps speed up the game a bit.

To play the ‘Island’ version of this game, set up cones in a circle. Players and their basketball must stay inside the circle or they are out of bounds.

10. Red Light Green Light

This is a well known game for kids to play in the yard as a group, but with a basketball it can help train dribbling skills and body control. You will need at least three players and a basketball for every player. Select one player to be the traffic light.

How to play:

  • All the players except the traffic light stands at one end of the court, and the traffic light stands at the other
  • The traffic light will face away from the other players and yell red light or green light
  • When the traffic light yells green light, the players will dribble to the other end of the court
  • When the traffic light yells red light, the players must stop dribbling and stop moving wherever they are
  • When the traffic light yells red light, the traffic light will turn to face the other players and call out any who they saw still moving or dribbling
  • If a player gets caught by the traffic lights they are out
  • The game ends when a player reaches the other end of the court
  • The winner gets to be the traffic light for the next game

We like to allow a player that gets caught by the traffic light, to simply start over from the beginning. That way no one is left out sitting on the side, but is still fair to the players who didn’t get caught.

11. Home Run

This is a team game and is best played with 6 or more players and 2 basketballs. Split up into two teams, a dribbling team and a shooting team. The dribbling team lines up at a corner of the court and the shooting team lines up at the free throw line.

How to play:

  • When the shooter yells ‘Go’ a player from the dribbling team will try to dribble the ball to half court and back to the corner
  • If the dribbler is successful (home run), they receive one point and the dribbler gets back in line
  • If the shooter makes a basket before the dribbler gets a home run, the dribbler is out and the next dribbler may begin
  • The shooter will shoot until they make a basket and then the next person in line will shoot

For younger players we sometimes get a few runs in before they make a basket. In cases like that, we like to allow the younger player to shoot closer to the basket to keep the game fun.

12. Basketball Tag

Basketball tag requires a court with lines. For example, three point line, half court, sideline etc. It’s best played with 6 or more players and a basket ball for every player except one or two. Although you can play with just two people, this game is a lot better with more than 6 people.

How to play:

  • All players start on a line (three point line, sideline, etc)
  • One or two players will not have a basketball and will be ‘It’
  • The other players will dribble their ball and avoid being tagged by whoever is ‘It’
  • If a player is tagged, steps off a line, or loses control of their ball, they are out for the rest of the game
  • The game ends when there is only one player left still dribbling

We don’t always go to a court with lines to play this game. Sometimes we play in the driveway and we’ll dry lines with driveway chalk. Honestly it’s more fun that way because the lines end up being wherever you want them. You could even make a Pac-Man maze if you’d like.

13. Buzzer Beater

Buzzer beater requires at least two players and as many basketballs as you can shoot in 10 seconds. If you have more basket balls available try changing the time limit to 30 seconds.

How to play:

  • The first shooter will line up at the three point line some basketballs nearby
  • When the timer starts, the shooter will try to make as many baskets as they can in under 10 seconds
  • Continue this for each player
  • The player with the most baskets wins

We like to mix up where the shooting line is, it doesn’t always have to be at the free throw line. Try playing buzzer beater at the three point line or half court. Sometime we implement a house rule that after the buzzer, you get to go for one layup that will count towards your score. That way you have an easy shot for at least one point.

14. All Star Shoot Out

All star shoot out can be played with 2 or more players and some cones or ground markers of some kind. Mark out 5 or more locations on the court the players will need to shoot from. Keep in mind skill level when marking locations.

How to play:

  • Each player will pick a shooting location to start from
  • When the game starts players will shoot from their location until they make a basket
  • After a player makes a basket they will move to the next shooting location
  • Players may not touch another players ball
  • The game ends when the first player makes a basket from every shooting location

We like to add that a player must then make a lay up after making a shot from every location to win. You could imagine that under the hoop can get pretty busy at times. So sometimes for fun, we’ll allow hitting another players ball with only your own ball in your hands.

If you’re looking to get a basketball hoop for yourself, you’ll need to decide between a portable hoop or a permanent hoop. Check out my Recommended Basketball hoops here

Robert Sampson

I'm Robert Sampson and I live in Colorado where I spend a lot of time in the backyard with my family either grilling, playing games and sports, or working on a project to make our backyard a better place to be.

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