15+ Fun Basketball Games For Kids To Play

✔ Research-backed

Basketball is an engaging and energetic sport that requires excellent ball skills and hand-eye coordination. You can spark your children’s interest in outdoor play with different basketball games for kids and make it more enjoyable for them. The games ensure overall development in children and are a great way to teach them about discipline and teamwork. The beauty of it is that you don’t always need a huge court for these games; they can be played in your backyard or even in the driveway. If your child is a basketball enthusiast and you are looking for basketball games to play with added twists and fun to your regular basketball game, try these variations to make it all the more interesting.

In This Article

15+ Basketball Games For Kids

Basketball is a high-intensity game that helps build team spirit in your child. If you wish to make their practice sessions exciting and engaging, these fun basketball games for kids will give a new twist to the regular game and up the fun quotient.

1. Passing

Passing basketball game for kids

Image: IStock

If there is one fun activity that develops your children’s hand-eye coordination and footwork, it is ball passing. Besides, passing helps develop a great sense of teamwork.

How to play:

  • Two players start the game by passing the ball between them as they move along the court.
  • If a player drops the ball, they are out of the game. The next player takes their place, and the game starts from the beginning.
  • For the next round, the ones who have completed one successful trip can compete.
  • You can also ask them to try a lay-up to make passing more enjoyable.

2. Monkey in the middle

Monkey in the middle basketball game for kids

Image: IStock

This is a passing game but with double the fun, and you don’t even need basketball hoops for this game. It is useful for developing hand-eye coordination and helping the child anticipate the moves of an opponent.

How to play:

  • Two players pass the ball, and the third player tries to catch the ball as they pass.
  • Pass through the length of the court as you do this.
  • If the third player catches the ball, they take the place of the player who threw the ball before they caught it, and that player becomes the monkey in the middle.

3. Out

Out basketball game for kids

Image: Shutterstock

If you want your child to improve their throw, this game is the best bet. It is quite simple yet challenging and is a great way for your child to exercise their muscles and calculate the distance and the angle of the throw.

How to play:

  • A player selects a spot to shoot the ball into the basket.
  • If the player puts the ball through the basket, the next player stands in the same place and attempts to shoot the ball through the basket.
  • If the player misses the shot, they get an O.
  • The next player selects another spot and throws the ball from there. If they miss, they get an O, and the third player takes over, and so on.
  • In the next round, every time a player misses a shot, they get a U and then a T in the subsequent round.
  • The player who gets OUT is out of the game. The play continues until one player remains.

4. Basketball toss

Basketball toss game for kids

Image: Shutterstock

Toss games are always fun. You can arrange this game at a practice session or a birthday party. It is easy and keeps children entertained for a long time.

How to play:

  • Draw a line on the ground. This will be the line behind which the children will stand.
  • Place a basket, bucket, box, or hoop some distance away from the line.
  • Each child gets three chances to throw the basketball into the container from behind the line.
  • For young children, you can give them crumpled paper balls or small plastic balls instead of basketballs.
protip_icon Did you know?
Playing basketball improves children’s stamina, balance, and tenacity. It can also burn around 700 calories in an hour (1).

5. Sharks and minnows

Sharks and minnows basketball game for kids

Image: Shutterstock

Ball control is an important aspect of basketball. The sharks and minnows game teaches children the concept of keeping the ball in control during play instead of letting it bounce away.

How to play:

  • Select two players to be sharks. The rest of the players will be minnows.
  • The sharks stand at one end of the court. They do not have a ball.
  • The minnows line up, facing the sharks at the other end of the court. Each minnow has a ball.
  • The goal of the game is to let the minnows dribble the ball from one end to another without the balls getting stolen or knocked out by the sharks. The sharks look to eliminate as many minnows as they can.
  • Each minnow who loses a ball becomes a shark in the next round.
  • The first minnow who reaches the other end without losing the ball is the winner.

6. Dribble knockout

Dribble knockout basketball game for kids

Image: IStock

This is another game that teaches children to handle the ball properly. In a basketball game, controlling the ball and protecting it are crucial for winning the game. This basketball game for kids helps children develop those skills.

How to play:

  • All the players start at one end of the court. Each player has a ball.
  • The goal of the game is to dribble and reach the other side of the court.
  • Each player also attempts to capture or knock out other players’ balls.
  • If your ball is knocked out or captured, you are eliminated from the game.
  • The players who finish the first round successfully go on to the second round and so on, until there is only one player left.

7. Around the world

Around the world basketball game for kids

Image: Shutterstock

This is similar to the game “Out.” However, this game will ensure all-round practice for your child to accurately shoot a ball into the basket.

How to play:

  • Select seven spots on the basketball court and mark them. These spots should be at a distance from which your players can stand and shoot the ball into the basket easily. Placing them too near or too far might cause difficulties.
  • Each player starts at the first spot and moves in a counterclockwise direction.
  • Each player must throw the ball through the basket from each of the marked spots.
  • When they succeed from the first spot, they move on to the next.
  • If they miss the shot, the player can call “Chance,” meaning they get another chance at a shot.
  • If they miss the second shot too, they move to the end of the line, and the next player starts taking the shots from the first spot.
  • The player who manages to make all their shots is the winner.

8. Mikan drill

Mikan drill basketball game for kids

Image: Shutterstock

Named after a popular basketball player, George Mikan, this game is great at developing your child’s upper body strength and teaching them to protect the ball from the opponents. This also teaches them how to drive past other players and make layups.

How to play:

  • Each player has to shoot layups or make dunks. If the player throws with their left hand, they should lift their right knee.
  • If the children are younger, they can shoot off both feet.
  • As the ball falls from the basket, the player should catch it at a height above their head, run to the other side, attempt the throw with their other hand, and lift the other knee. If the ball falls from their hand, they are eliminated.
  • Make each player do this exercise for 30 seconds in the beginning and extend it as you go.

9. Knockout

Knockout basketball game for kids

Image: Shutterstock

If your players are below 12 years, they will enjoy this game immensely. It is a favorite and teaches children to play competitively and perform under pressure.

How to play:

  • The players line up at the free-throw line. The first two players have a basketball each.
  • The first shot is always from the free-throw line, but the subsequent shots can be taken from anywhere.
  • If the person behind you scores first, you are out of the game.
  • If you score before the other person, you pass the ball to the first person on the line and join the end of the line.
  • The player who remains after all other players are knocked out is the winner.

10. H-O-R-S-E

H-O-R-S-E basketball game for kids

Image: Shutterstock

This game is similar to OUT but is more demanding. If you want your players to polish their shooting skills, this shooting drill is a fun way to teach them.

How to play:

  • The first player selects a spot and shoots.
  • If the ball passes through the basket, the next player attempts the same shot, and so on.
  • If the player misses a shot, they earn a letter.
  • The players who earn all the letters of HORSE are out of the game.
  • You can make your own rules for the game and even select different animal names to make the game long or short.
  • If the first player takes a shot and the subsequent players choose an easy spot for shooting or fail to replicate the player, they earn a letter.

11. 21 points

21 Points basketball game for kids

Image: Shutterstock

This is another fast-paced shooting game involving free throws and requires speed and concentration — two things that are crucial in a basketball game. You can increase or decrease the points depending on the players’ age or the amount of time you have.

How to play:

  • Make all players stand behind the free-throw line.
  • The first player throws the ball from the line. If the ball passes through the basket, the player gets one point and another chance to shoot from the free-throw line.
  • If they miss the basket, the player must run to catch the rebounding ball and attempt another shot. If the shot is made, the player gets two points.
  • If the player misses the rebound shot as well, the next player picks the ball and starts over from the free-throw line.
  • The first player to score 21 points wins.
  • If any player scores more than 21 points, their points are reduced to 13.

12. The 1-3-5 game

The 1-3-5 game basketball game for kids

Image: Shutterstock

If you are looking for a challenging game to make your players achieve accurate results with the ball, this is the game you must make them play. You will need someone to keep score for this game, and lay-ups are not allowed.

How to play:

  • Select a spot for your players to stand. For younger players, select a closer spot.
  • Ask each player to shoot the ball.
  • If a shot is made in the paint area, the player gets one point.
  • If a shot is made outside the paint area but not at the three-point line, they get three points.
  • If a shot is made in any place outside the three-point line, they get five points.
  • You can encourage your players to use their off-hand to take a shot and give double points if they succeed.

13. Swish away

Swish away basketball game for kids

Image: Shutterstock

Swishes are considered the best shots in basketball. They go directly through the net without touching the board or the metal parts. These jump shots require a lot of practice to get them right. This game can help your children practice the perfect shot.

How to play:

  • Two players stand on the opposite sides of the court, six feet away from the ring.
  • They take turns in throwing the ball, trying to swish it through the basket.
  • For a swish, the player scores one point. If the ball goes through the net but does not swish, the player scores zero points. If the player misses the shot, they score -1 points.
  • The first player to score five points is the winner. You could also consider a five-point difference.
  • You can add a defense line to increase the difficulty level of the game.

14. Five in a row

Five in a row basketball game for kids

Image: Shutterstock

If you want your players to improve their target, this game is perfect for teaching them to do so in a fun way. It develops their hand-eye coordination, and the more they practice, the more they can put the ball through the net.

How to play:

  • Each player has to shoot the ball through the basket five times in a row from a spot of their choice. They should stand a few feet away from the ring.
  • If they succeed, they should take a step back and throw again, five times in a row.
  • If you want to make it more challenging, have every player shoot at the same time.

15. Dribble direction

Dribble direction basketball game for kids

Image: Shutterstock

This is a game that can improve the dribbling skills of your players during a game. Dribbling continuously without losing the ball gives you the upper hand in a game of basketball, and this game will teach your players just that.

How to play:

  • Give each player a ball and line them up on one end of the court. Stand at a distance away from them, facing them.
  • Ask them to dribble while looking at you.
  • Move in different directions. The players must change their direction and face you while dribbling the balls. Their eyes must be on you at all times.
  • As the players improve, you can increase the speed of your movement.
  • If a player loses the ball, they can take five shots and start again.
  • If possible, use referees for this game as there will be a lot of players involved.

16. Basketball tag

In basketball tag for kids, one child with a basketball tries to tag others while others try to dodge and avoid being tagged. If you get tagged, freeze until someone else unfreezes you. It’s a lively and fun game that keeps everyone moving and having a good time.

How to play:

  • Gather children in a suitable area for basketball tag.
  • Choose one child to be the tagger armed with a basketball. The child will try to tag others using the basketball.
  • Other kids dodge the tags; if tagged, they freeze until someone else unfreezes them.
  • Switch taggers to keep the game lively and ensure everyone has a blast playing basketball tag.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the basic rules of a basketball game?

The basic rules that govern basketball are – only five players are allowed for either team on the court; to win, each team must score more than the other, and a clock with a timer is set for scores. And the ball can be thrown in any direction, the ball can be held in between the hands, and holding it in the arms or any other part of the body is strictly prohibited. Foul play is counted as a violation, and players must follow the umpire, who is the judge of the game. A team or player may ask for timeouts under special circumstances.

2. What are three interesting facts about basketball?

  • While designing an indoor winter pastime by his boss at the YMCA, a physical education professor and instructor at the organization, James Naismith, is credited with inventing basketball in 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts (2).
  • During the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics, basketball became an official Olympic sport for the first time. The Olympic basketball games were held on modified tennis courts in the open air (3).
  • The official basketball size for competitive men’s basketball is Size 7, with a circumference of 29.5 in or 75 cm.

3. What age range is most suitable for playing basketball games?

There is no age limit for playing basketball games, but it is recommended that children around 4-5 years old start playing easy basketball games and move on up to the advanced games when they are older (4)

4. What tips can be given to parents to help their kids enjoy basketball games?

You may help your children enjoy basketball games by encouraging and supporting them to play. For example, try taking them to a basketball game or watching it together on TV and discussing it to help them understand the rules and feel the thrill of the game. However, remember not to force them into it and let them express their likes and dislikes.

5. Are there any risks associated with playing basketball games for kids?

Playing basketball games can come with potential risks of injuries caused by falling, slipping, awkward landings, head and face wounds from a collision with other players or being hit by the ball, and sometimes ankle or muscle sprains. (5) (6)

6. How can basketball games help promote healthy competition in kids?

Basketball promotes teamwork and sportsmanship in children as they learn to work together towards a common goal, respect their opponents, and follow the rules. These encourage healthy competition as the focus is more on improving themselves, recognizing the achievement of and helping others rather than solely on winning.

Basketball games for kids are an excellent physical activity that requires good ball skills and hand and eye coordination. Passing, monkey in the middle, basketball toss, sharks and minnows, dribble knockout, and mikan drill are some of the popular basketball games. These games can also increase children’s interest in learning the ball game. In addition, they help the child develop strength and tactics to play basketball competitively under pressure. Your child may also play in a tournament with a professional basketball league in the future. Basketball games can also be played with children during training sessions.You may try these games at outdoor get-togethers and parties as well. A basketball game can also be used in mental therapy sessions involving children. Mental health therapist Kristina Marcelli Sargent suggests a ‘Talk it Out’ basketball that can help children open up fun and engagingly. She says, “My favorite movement based intervention is a game I call “Talk It Out Basketball.” I have different talking prompts and points taped with masking tape to the floor in my office. The questions range from “name one of your strengths” to “talk about a time you calmed down safely this week.” The rule is that while standing on the question you get half points for simply answering the question and the other half of the points for making the shot (i).”

Infographic: Enjoyable Basketball Games For Children

Basketball is a popular, fun team game. But since not everyone can play basketball, many exciting games can be played with basketball. Check out the infographic below for awesome games you can play with your group, practice, and enjoy.

cool basketball games for unlimited fun (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • Playing basketball inculcates sportsmanship and discipline in children.
  • Mikan drill, 21 points, and passing are some fun basketball games that can add more fun to your regular game.
  • Swish away and 1-3-5 are a couple of complex games from the list that can develop a deeper interest in the sport.
Basketball Games For Kids_illustration

Image: Dall·E/MomJunction Design Team

Basketballs can be used in more than one way. Check out this video for 6 innovative and creative ways to use basketballs and provide endless hours of entertainment for your kids.

Personal Experience: Source


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Basketball – health benefits; Department of Health, State Government of Victoria, Australia;
  2. Where Basketball was Invented: The History of Basketball; Springfield College;
  3. Olympic Games: Berlin 1936; International Basketball Federation;
  4. Developmental Milestones: 4 to 5 Year Olds (Preschool);
  5. Preventing and Treating Basketball Injuries;
  6. Basketball – preventing injury;
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Katherine Paxton

Katherine PaxtonApplied Psychology Program

Katherine Paxton is an internationally-known award winning author of the book “Counselling people on the autism spectrum; A practical manual”. She graduated from a tri-university Applied Psychology Program of Campus Alberta (University of Alberta, Athabaska University, and University of Lethbridge).
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