Let’s Play Some Backyard Basketball Games!

Ready to play?

Whether you are NBA-worthy, or a total basketball novice, you can get hours of fun and activity out of a simple backyard basketball game. There are so many variations to choose from, if the standard play is not for you. We have put together some cool ideas for backyard basketball games for a range of different group-sizes and skill sets. All you need is a basketball, a hard-surfaced yard, a friend or two, and you’re ready to play! The cool thing about these games is that you can play in all seasons (unless your Winters are snow-covered or freezing!), not just Summertime.

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Okay, it might be predictable, but we just couldn’t leave this absolute classic off the list! And what’s more, maybe there are some of you who aren’t familiar with H O R S E, and in that case, you must learn how to play this long-standing basketball favorite. It’s a fun game for when you feel like getting really silly and making up some crazy rules. Test out your skills and have a good laugh at the same time!

How many people: at least 2

What you need: a basketball, a hoop

How to play:

First things first, decide who get the first shot. If you can’t decide, then try a simple paper/scissors/rock, or see who shoots a hoop first. The first person makes up a special rule for the shot; anything goes! You can make it so that you have to shoot with your left hand only, keep your eyes closed, shoot from lying down, shoot while dancing…get creative! The first person gets one chance to make the shot. If he/she makes the shot, then the second person has to try and make the shot using the same rule the first person made up. If the first player missed the shot, then the second player gets to make his shot from anywhere on the court, and using any rules he wishes. If you miss the shot when you are copying the challenge set and achieved by the person before you, you get an H. Each time you miss a shot set by the previous player, you get another letter, until someone has H O R S E. Of course, you can actually choose any word you want! It doesn’t have to be “horse”. Remember, you don’t get a letter when you are making up your own rules, only when you are copying the other player’s rule, and only if they made the basket themselves.


Sprint-shot, the game that gets the muscles burning and the tensions high. Depending on where you are from, this game may or may not be familiar. It’s a fast-paced game, perfect for people with short attention spans and a habit of getting bored easily!

How many people: at least 4

What you need: a basketball, a hoop

How to play:

Place the basketball in the middle of the court. Each player goes to the perimeter of the court, spread evenly out around the edge, and waits for the signal. On the “go” signal, each player must sprint as hard as they can to get to the ball first. Whoever touches the ball first gets to pick it up. This rule is there so that you can reach down and tap the ball instead of having to throw yourself onto the concrete (because OUCH!). The person who has claimed the ball gets to attempt a shot from where they are standing. If they make the shot, then they get to choose where the ball gets positioned for the next round, and then they sit out. The rest of the team members have to start with their backs turned to the court so they can’t see where the ball is being placed. The winner of the previous round, after they place the ball, gets to yell “go!”. The rest of the players swing around, locate the ball as quickly as they can, and repeat the process again. If the first person to touch the ball makes their shot and misses, there is no punishment, the process simply starts again.

This is a great game because you get rewarded for making a shot, but you don’t get disqualified or punished for missing a shot. This means that the game can keep going at a fast pace and you can stay in the game, and get a rest only when you make a shot.

If you really want to incorporate this came into a fitness routine, you could alter the rules so that if you miss the shot, you have to do 3 sprints of the court, or 10 jump squats etc.

Statue NBA

Statue NBA: not for the clumsy or the jittery. In all seriousness, this game is for everyone! But some might be better than others. It has a bit of basketball-skills practice, a bit of strategy, a bit of balance and control, and a whole lot of fun.

How many people: at least 4, you could get away with 3, but more is better

What you need: basketballs: ideally, you’d have one basketball per person, but you could substitute for other bouncing balls if you don’t have enough basketballs, a hoop

How to play:

Nominate one person to be the “seeker”, (not necessarily a Quidditch reference, but you can interpret it that way if you like!). The seeker goes to the hoop-end of the court, and stands with their back to the players and the court. The other players go to the other end of the court, (if it’s a really long space you can decide on a shorter boundary-line if you want to). Mark out a “shot space” about 2 meters away from the hoop. The players line up and get ready, each holding a ball. On the “go signal”, they must walk (not run, but can walk quickly) whilst bouncing/dribbling the ball. The seeker can whip around at any time they like, if they see anyone moving, or see any balls bounce on the ground, the culprit is out, and has to step out of the game. The game then continues from where each player is standing. The aim of the game is to get to the shot-space. If you reach or surpass the shot-space without the seeker catching you, you get to take a shot. If you land the shot, you are the new seeker. You can bend the rules so that less experienced basketballers can have 3 attempts to land the shot.


  • If your ball is mid-bounce when the seeker turns around, you are allowed to catch it before it hits the ground, as long as you stop immediately after catching it, and freeze
  • If the ball bounces on the ground, you are out
  • Sometimes this means you might have to squat down low to catch the ball before it bounces, then stay there
  • The seeker can decide how long they want you to freeze for as! They might make you keep your position for a long time, making it a lot harder. You can alter these rules according to your players’ skill-levels


Need a hoop? View our guide to the best portable basketball hoops!

Basketball games don’t have to follow traditional Basketball rules. There are so many games, like the ones on this list, which embrace so many different abilities and skill-levels. You can get really creative and silly with these games, but still get some good shooting, dribbling, and running practice in. If you have a basketball and a hard, outdoor surface available, get out in the fresh air and catch-up with friends and family over some friendly competition!

Author: YardWin

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