The Home Rulebook: Easy Basketball Games (That Aren’t P-I-G)

Since its invention over 100 years ago, no other sport has been able to match the versatility of basketball. Though the official rules of the game have created one of the most popular sports on earth and the undisputed obsession of Hoosiers everywhere, the possibilities for endless hours of activity and fun doesn’t have to stop with traditional 5-on-5 basketball.

It can often be difficult or inconvenient to gather a full roster for two teams to face off in a standard game, or perhaps the players want to have fun around the hoop without adhering to the same set of rules that they’re used to. With the rules to these simple and fun new basketball games that can be enjoyed by two or more people, it’s easier than ever to shake things up and still have fun (without just playing P-I-G again).


Players: 2+

A variation on traditional basketball with a faster pace and more adjustable team sizes, twenty-one is simple yet intense. The game begins with one player setting the ball into play by bouncing it off the rim and then all players attempting to rebound and gain possession.

When a player shoots and makes a basket, they gain two points (or three if made from far enough) to their individual score and then attempt to make up to three free throws (representing one point each) in a row. If the player misses, the ball goes back into play. If the player successfully makes three free throws, they receive the ball back at the top of the key and resume play.

The first player to score exactly 21 points wins the game. If they go over, their score is reduced to 11 and opens up the competition even further.

Around the World

Players: 2+

Around the world is one of the best basketball games to play for those looking to work on improving their shooting skills and compete at a less intense pace. To win a round, a player needs to be the first to complete various shots from around the key.

Players begin by selecting 5-7 spaces around the key from which to shoot, arranged in a semicircle around the hoop. Player 1 first shoots from the first space to the right of the basket, and gets to advance a space for each successful shot made in a row. If player 1 misses a shot, they can either hand the ball off to player 2 and preserve their place on the key, or take a second shot. If the second shot is successful, they get to keep going. If the shot misses, they lose their place and possession goes to the next player.

The winner is the first player to successfully make it to one end of the key and back. However, if player 1 makes every shot in the first round, the other players get a chance to attempt to match player one for a tie to be settled by a shoot-off.

Knockout (Lightning)

Players: 3+
Note: Played with 2 basketballs

Combining the fast pace of twenty-one and the shooting skills of around the world, knockout (also known as lightning) provides frantic fun that can be played by large groups for round after round.

Players first line up, single file, behind a free-throw line approximately 15 feet from the basket. The first two players in line each have a basketball, with the goal being for the second player in line to make a basket before the first and “knock out” their opposition.

The game starts when player 1 shoots the ball toward the basket, with player 2 able to shoot immediately after player 1. If player 1 makes the shot immediately, they hand the ball off to player 3 and take their place in the back of the line. If they miss, they must attempt to rebound and make a basket from anywhere around the hoop before player 2 successfully makes a basket. Knockout’s rapid-fire fun ends when only one player remains.

With these simple, fast and fun games able to be played around a hoop with 2 or more players, it’s incredibly easy for players to participate in endless hours of fun.

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