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8 Fun Basketball Games for Kids to Play With Friends

Posted by Jordan Snider on Sep 30, 2023 10:30:00 AM

Basketball is a fantastic sport for kids to pick up. Not only does it promote teamwork and provide a ton of health benefits, but it’s also easy to set up. All you need is a ball and a hoop!

Introducing kids to the game of basketball is best done slowly—starting with full-game scrimmages isn’t always the best way. 

To help improve basketball skills and teach the fundamentals, there are many different basketball-related games you can play. 

In fact, we’ve listed 8 of our favorites below. 

The 8 Best Basketball Games for Kids to Play with Friends

Ready for some incredible basketball games? 

All 8 of these games help teach fundamental concepts within the game of basketball, including dribbling, passing, and shooting.


Horse is a classic basketball game—everyone from beginners to NBA pros play horse as a way to have fun and improve their shooting skills!

  • Choose who goes first—you can flip a coin to decide fairly.
  • The first person chooses a type of shot to take, whether it’s from further out, a layup, with the wrong hand, etc.
  • If the shot is made, they keep the ball for another shot. The second shooter must attempt to make the exact same shot. If they make it, the first shooter attempts another shot. If it doesn’t go in, shooter two gets a letter—an H, in this case. 
  • If shooter one does not make their shot, then it’s shooter two’s turn to attempt a shot.
  • Repeat this process until someone has enough letters to spell “horse”
  • You can also play with words of varying lengths for shorter or longer games. For example, people often play “pig” for a three-round game. 

Around the World

In basketball, many people have their favorite “spots” to take shots from. Maybe it’s on the wing, just inside the three-point line, or in the corner. 

Around the World is a game that helps shooters step outside their comfort zones and learn to shoot from new spots on the court!  

  • Set up “designated shooting areas”—one common setup is to have one in each corner, one more in each wing (on a 45-degree angle from the hoop), and one from the top of the key (directly in line with the basket). All of these shots are typically taken just outside the three-point line but can be done from closer (or farther away!).
  • Shooters will start at the corner spot and shoot. As they make shots, they move to the next spot and take a shot.
  • If a shot is missed at any point, the play returns to the starting point.
    • Alternatively, the player can remain at the missed spot and resume play there on their next turn. This is great for beginners!
  • The game ends when a shooter goes from corner to corner and then back again. 

basketball - girl shooting

Pure concentration… This shot is going in for sure!


Knockout is an exciting game that teaches shooting fundamentals in a high-stakes format. It’s a popular game that can get competitive, but it’s important to remember to have fun. You’ll need two basketballs and at least three players for this one.


Knockout develops hand-eye coordination and depth perception… Look at that form! 

  • Players line up at the free throw line, with the first two in line holding a ball.
  • Player one will attempt a shot. If it goes in, they will pass the ball to the next person in line (player three) and return to the back of the line. 
  • If player one misses, they can rebound the ball and put it in. However, player two will also shoot. If player two’s ball goes in before player one, player one is eliminated. The player in behind always has an opportunity to eliminate someone in front of them.
  • Repeat until only one player remains! 

Twenty-One (21)

Another classic shooting game played all around the globe, 21 is another shooting game that emphasizes a player’s shooting form. All you need is at least three players, a ball, and a half-court.

  • All players stand behind the free throw line, with the player at the front holding the ball.
  • Each player shoots from the line—if they make it, they get a point and the ball back.
  • If the shot misses, they have a chance to rebound and make another shot. If this one goes in, they get two points instead.
  • If that shot misses, it’s the next person’s turn to do the same thing. 
  • The first to 21 wins the game! 


Who would have thought that you could combine two of the best sports around: Golf and basketball? 

Like in golf, the lowest score wins—here’s how to play:

  • Pick a spot on the court to shoot from—preferably further out from the basket.
  • Each player takes a shot from that spot. If they make it, it’s one point. If not, they take a shot from where the ball rebounded. Their score becomes the number of shots it takes to make the basket. 
  • The player with the lowest score wins the round! 

Basketball Tag

Basketball tag is a simple yet fun game combining basketball with tag. For most kids, this can help with dribbling skills.

  • Each player has a basketball and starts in a designated area.
  • Choose one player who is “it”—this player needs to try and tag other players.
  • If a player is tagged, they remain in place dribbling the ball.
  • The last player who isn’t frozen in place wins! 

Buzzer Beater

This game helps teach kids how to shoot when there isn’t much time left. Getting shots off quickly is an acquired skill!

  • Set a designated zone for shooting—this area will depend on the skill level of the players involved.
  • Each player takes as many shots as they can within a specified time frame. It can be 10 seconds, 30 seconds, or more. 
  • Whoever can make the most baskets wins! 

Sharks and Minnows

Sharks and Minnows is a fantastic game to help with both defense and dribbling ability. One side gets to practice stealing the ball while the other practices protecting the ball! 

  • Divide into two teams: Sharks line up on one side and must steal the ball, and minnows line up on the other side and protect it. 
  • On the whistle, minnows need to dribble to the opposite baseline without sharks stealing the ball.
  • If a shark steals the ball, the player that loses the ball becomes a shark next round.
  • The game ends when all players have become sharks—the last minnow wins! 

Participate in Fun Basketball Games at Summer Camp

If your child loves the game of basketball, we have the answer: A summer basketball camp!  

Experienced counselors can share their favorite games and drills. If summer camp is on your mind, we can even help you pick the right one. The Future Stars Camp Comparison Checklist lets you easily compare and contrast basketball camp costs, activities, dates, and locations.

Access the Camp Comparison Checklist today and find a basketball summer camp your child will love!

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