Basketball Activities for Kids

Michele Meleen
Basketball team practicing in gym

Basketball is a fun sport and can be enjoyed by a variety of ages, and skills kids learn in basketball are transferable to other areas of life and include fine motor skills, gross motor skills and cooperation. Skills to practice include dribbling, passing, shooting, offense, defense and footwork practice.

Ball Pass Checkers

Kids, ages five and older, in groups of eight or more, form a human checkerboard in this easy passing game. This game helps kids work on:

  • Bounce pass
  • Chest pass
  • Blind pass
  • Teamwork
  • Offense

How to Set It Up

First, gather your equipment:

  • One basketball
  • A large, empty surface with room to spread kids out in lines of four, each at least two feet from another person
  • Spot markers or bases to mark where players stand (optional)

To set up the game you will need to:

  1. Separate the group into two equal teams.
  2. Group the first team at one end of the playing space in rows of four, leaving about two feet on either side as well as two feet to the front and back of each child.
  3. Group the second team in the same way on the opposite end of the playing space, so they are facing the first team.

Directions

The player's goal is to fill the back row of the opposing team's lineup with members of your team.

  1. Choose a team to start with the ball. That team chooses one player to start. She must use either a bounce pass, chest pass, or blind pass to pass the ball to one player on the opposite team.
  2. If the ball lands within six inches of a player after being thrown, and she catches it, the throwing player is out of the game. The receiving player then takes the throwing player's spot.
  3. If she does not catch it, she is out of the game and the throwing player takes her spot.
  4. If the ball lands over six inches from any player, the thrower is out of the game and the opposing team can choose any player to take her spot.
  5. The player closest to where the ball lands after each throw, goes next.
  6. Gameplay continues until the back row of one team is filled with players from the opposite team.

During gameplay, offensive teams can shout or use hand movements to distract the other team as long as they remain in their designated spots.

Basketball Rover

Elementary Gym Class

Inspired by the classic playground game, Red Rover, this game is suitable for players of all skill levels in larger groups of 10 or more. Participants in Basketball Rover work on footwork skills like:

  • Pivoting
  • Shuffling
  • Jab steps

How to Set It Up

Start by gathering your materials:

  • A large, flat space where two lines of players can stand arms-width apart and have at least 20 feet between lines
  • A stopwatch

To set up the game you need to:

  1. Separate the group into two equal teams.
  2. Line one team horizontally at one end of the playing area, leaving about two feet of empty space behind them. There should be at least five feet from the edge of each end to the edge of the playing area. Players hold hands with each person on their left and right with arms outstretched.
  3. Line the second team in the same way at the opposite end of the playing area and facing the opposing team.

Directions

The goals for the players is to break through the opposite team's line within 30 seconds and stop the opposing team from breaking through their line.

  1. The starting team chooses a caller to call over one player of the opposite team with a directive. For example, a caller says "Red Rover, Red Rover, I call John to pivot left over."
    1. Pivot left/right: Player starts with one foot planted on the ground and swings the other foot a quarter turn left or right. The player then brings the planted foot up to moving foot and repeats movement across the playing area.
    2. Shuffle left/right: Player starts standing sideways and shuffles leading with left or right foot across playing area.
    3. Jab step left/right: Player plants both feet on the ground slightly wider than hip-width apart and jabs the left/right foot forward. The player then brings his back foot up to the front foot and repeats across the playing field.
  2. The coach starts the stopwatch as soon as the call is complete.
  3. The called player performs the directed move toward the opposite team and tries to break through the linked hands of the caller and the person on his left or right (follow the same direction as given in the directive).
  4. If a player breaks through the opposing team, he returns to his team's line.
  5. If a player does not break through the hands or does not make it to the opposing line within 30 seconds, he joins the opposing team's line.
  6. Repeat the first to third steps until there is only one player left on one team or time runs out.
  7. The team with the most players in a row at the end of the game wins.

Keep 'em Moving

boy playing basketball

Geared toward more skilled players ages 10 and older, this group game features a dribbling challenge. At least two players are required, but five or more is ideal. In this game kids will work on:

  • Dribbling
  • Quick movements
  • Teamwork
  • Focus

How to Set It Up

Grab your supplies:

  • One basketball for each player
  • A small, flat surface where players can stand in a close circle
  • Stopwatch

Then, set up by:

  1. Standing players in a close circle, with 12 inches or less between them. Each player starts with a ball.

Directions

The object of the game is to keep all the balls bouncing in a dribbling motion for the allotted time.

  1. Choose a time limit based on the size and ability level of the group. Smaller groups with younger kids start with two minutes while older, larger groups start with five.
  2. When the timer starts, each player dribbles his ball in front of him while counting slowly to 20 as a group.
  3. After the group says "20" each person immediately shifts one spot to the left and starts dribbling the ball that is now in front of them.
  4. Repeat the second and third steps until the game is over.
  5. If a ball stops bouncing, rolls out of the playing area, or is otherwise not considered in a dribbling motion it is removed from the game along with the player responsible for the error. In this case, the group moves closer together to fill the gap.
  6. If all balls and players remain in the game at the end of the allotted time, the team wins.

For larger groups, you can create multiple circles with teams competing against each other.

Shape Shifter

high school boy playing basketball

This versatile activity is ideal for individual basketball exercises but can be adapted to larger groups with ease. Kids of any age can play Shape Shifter if they have a net within reasonable height for making shots. The main skill kids practice in this game is shooting form and accuracy.

How to Set It Up

Start by gathering your materials:

  • One basketball
  • One basketball hoop
  • A playing area at least 15 x 15 feet
  • Four safety cones

Get the court set up by:

  • Creating a triangle using cones anywhere on the court. Leave five or ten feet between cones depending on court size.

Directions

The goal for players is to make a basket from each spot designated by a cone.

  1. Choose one cone in your triangle as the starting point. Stand in that spot and take shots until you make a basket.
  2. Move to the left and repeat step one from the new cone.
  3. Repeat the first and second steps.
  4. Once you have mastered this triangle, move the cones into a square shape anywhere on the court. Leave at least five or ten feet between cones depending on court size.
  5. Repeat the first to third steps.

Continue the activity alternating between triangles and squares in different areas of the court for as long as you'd like. To play with a group, create more than one shape on the court at a time. Stagger even numbers of players at each shape.

Rhythmic Shots

Gym class basketball

Inspired by musical chairs, this fun game uses the rhythmic sound of a dribbled basketball to keep time. Beginning players, in small or groups of three to six, are ideal participants. In this game kids will practice:

  • Listening
  • Reflexes
  • Shooting

How to Set It Up

The supplies you need are:

  • One basketball per child, plus one for the group leader/coach
  • One basketball hoop
  • Playing area large enough for all players to stand in a curved, horizontal line at least five feet from the hoop

To set up the game you will need to:

  1. Line players, with their basketballs, in an evenly spaced, curved, horizontal line facing the hoop.
  2. Stand behind the line of kids with your basketball.

Directions

The object of the game is to Avoid being the last player to take a shot when the leader's basketball stops bouncing.

  1. The group leader starts dribbling his ball while the players hold their basketballs still.
  2. When the leader stops dribbling, each player must take a shot. The last kid to let go of his ball is out of the game.
  3. Repeat the first and second steps until there is only one player left. He is the winner.

Building Skill

Kids will want to practice their basketball skills when the practice seems more like a game than a drill. Whether trying out some new, original activities at home in the driveway or in the school gym with the team, practicing basic skills will help every child improve.

Basketball Activities for Kids