There are many fun games for youth basketball players. These games can be used to motivate players while reinforcing proper fundamentals, encouraging healthy competition, and building conditioning. Games can be played as a reward for players. This reward can take place if players work hard during a tough practice or if they are able to meet a challenge presented by the coach. For example, everyone arriving to practice on time for a certain amount of weeks or by defeating a difficult opponent. These games can also be played during camps or clinics to incorporate players of different skill levels into the same activity. Another idea is to use these games during a practice that lands on the birthday of a player as a way to celebrate.
Steal the Basketball
Steal the Basketball is played between two equal teams. The basketball is placed at the center of the court and the two teams sit on opposite sidelines near the half-court. Every player is assigned a number to match a player from the opposing side. When the players hear their numbers called they race to the middle of the court to be the first to get the basketball. The first one with the ball becomes the offensive player and the other player becomes the defensive player. They play one-on-one until someone scores or until time runs out. Players especially enjoy when more than one number is called at the same time.
- Make it a rule that players must angle their bodies away from the basketball and reach in at an angle. That way, they do not bump heads when they both try to grab the ball.
- Use a chair to place the ball higher. By placing the ball on a chair players are less prone to diving to the floor and are therefore less likely to bump heads.
Make It More Challenging
- Require that players complete a guard or post move prior to attempting to score. If a move has recently been taught, require that the players use that move.
Shooting Knock-Out is when players line up at the foul line with two basketballs (one to the first person in the line and one to the second person in the line). Each player has to score a basket, starting with a foul shot. After the foul shot, if the shot was missed, the player races to wherever the ball landed and can dribble in and try to score a shot before the person behind him/her scores. Once the player scores, he/she passes the ball to the next person in line. If the second player scores first, the player ahead of him/her is out. The players continue this until there is one remaining victor.
Dribble Knock-Out is when every player has a basketball. They are all confined to a section of the court and must maintain their dribble. If they pick up their dribble, lose the ball, or step out of bounds, they are not. While doing so, they must try and knock away the basketball from another player. The game should behind in a large area, such as the full court or half court. As players are eliminated from the game, the boundaries get smaller. Coaches can change the game so that it is played within the three point line, then the key, and then ultimately the half circle at the top of the key.
Protect the Nest
Protect the Nest is a favorite by many. Every player has a basketball and is assigned to a spot on either the baseline or the sideline. Normally it is the baseline, but if a large quantity of players are participating, then the sidelines can be used. Cones, medicine balls, tennis balls, and any other small piece of equipment that can be used are all placed in the center of the court. Players have to dribble to these items, pick one up with the hand they are not dribbling with, and dribble it back to their area. Players can only pick up one item at a time. Once all of the items have been cleared from the center, players can steal items from other players' areas. It is best if players are only allowed to steal from the opposite side of the court because it is too easy if the area they are stealing from is close to their area/nest. Coaches can choose a time limit for this game and can count down the final minute.
Half-Court Steal is when one player is standing in defensive position on the half-court. He/She can move laterally on the half-court, but cannot leave the half-court. All of the other players are on the baseline with a basketball. When the coach yells, "go," the players have to dribble to the other baseline without getting tagged by the person on the half-court. If players are tagged, if they step out of bounds on the sideline, or if they lose their basketball, they must join the player at the half-court. Together, they work to tag other players. The last remaining player is the winner.
Superman is a game that works on velocity and rebounding. A player starts on the outside of the key (either on the left or the right), throws the ball off the backboard, and runs and jumps, catching the ball on the opposite outside of the key. The player must land with both feet outside the paint during the catch/rebound. The highest number of catches in a row wins.