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Fun Basketball Games for the Family

H-O-R-S-E

This classic playground game can be modified to match the skill level of the players involved. The rules are simple: The first player explains what kind of a shot she will try to make. If she makes the shot, the next player has to do the exact same thing, and so on until someone misses. The player who misses gets an H. Each miss is worth another letter until it spells HORSE, and that player loses the game. Younger kids can be allowed to move closer or to adapt their attempts as needed.

Around the World

The standard version presented by authors Ken Lumsden and Sally Jones, who have written several books on sports and dance for youths, suggests marking off spots around the basket from which players will shoot. A player will start from the first spot, just to the right of the basket, for a layup. If she makes that shot, she moves to a spot halfway up the key, then to the corner of the key and the free throw line, and around the key until she reaches the left side of the basket for a layup. However, the player cannot advance unless she makes the shot. If she misses, she can have an extra chance, but she has to go back to the beginning and start over. If she misses on her first shot from a particular spot, she can pass on a second chance and wait until it is her turn again. Each player continues shooting until she misses, and then the next player gets a turn. You can also add other spots around the court to challenge better shooters.

Obstacle Course Races

You can get creative with these kinds of games, especially if you have a whole basketball court to work with. Before you start, set up little cones from the baseline to half court in an S-shaped slalom pattern, and then have a family member near the top of the key at the far end of the court. To begin, have each participant dribble the ball around the cones (or maybe have two sets of S-shaped routes to allow players to race one another). When the player gets to half court, he must turn around in a circle three times while dribbling and then dribble to the top of the key. There someone waits to guard the player, who must then drive to the basket for a layup. You can have players compete head-to-head or use a stopwatch to measure each family member's time.

Lightning

This one is best with a large group, and the action is fast so no one is likely to get bored. Players line up at the free-throw line, and the first two players each have a basketball. After the first player shoots the ball, the second person in line shoots. If the first player misses his shot, he must get the rebound and score from anywhere on the court before the second player makes her shot (either from the free-throw line or from another spot if her free throw is unsuccessful). If the second shooter scores first, the first player is out of the game. If the first player scores first, he throws the ball to the next person in line and then goes to the end of the line to wait for his next turn. Play continues until only one person is left shooting.

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