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6 fun backyard basketball games for 8-year-olds

Basketball is an ideal game to get eight-year-olds outside. Beginnings of the sport date all the way back to 1891. It was invented by a Canadian Physical Education teacher in Springfield, Massachusetts. James Naismith was looking for a game to keep kids playing indoors at YMCAs and wrote the sport’s original 13 rules as a part of a class assignment. Naismith didn’t spend a lot of time getting the word out about his new sport, but that wasn’t really an issue. Basketball took off at YMCAs across the country and never looked back. Pickup games at playgrounds and parks can be quite competitive, but there are a lot of fun backyard basketball games kids can play in driveway hoops when the weather is nice. Summer is an ideal time to get kids outside and on the basketball court. Here are six basketball plays for kids that are a slam dunk.

Boy shooting baskets in his backyard
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Around the World

This is the perfect game if there aren’t enough players to field teams. All that’s needed to play is two people and a basketball. Participants must move around the court to make predetermined shots including a layup, a shot between the basket and free-throw line, a free throw, a 20-foot shot from the side, a three-pointer, and a half-court shot. Rules vary, but a player has gone around the world if he or she completes the sequence. Shooters can either start over if they miss, or stay in one spot until the shot is made. Another version of Around the World has all the players shooting at once instead of taking turns. This variation only works if each shooter has a ball.


To start, mark 18 holes on the basketball court. The game can be played with more players, but two is ideal. Each player must get a basket from each golf hole, moving in order around the court. Just like golf, a low score wins. Players record how many times it takes to make a basket at each numbered spot. To make it easier, use an index card to record scores from each hole, like in mini-golf.

Musical Baskets

Kids will have a lot of fun with this backyard basketball game. Each player needs a ball, and one person controls the music. Place all the basketballs in a circle. All the players walk around the balls while the music plays. When the music stops, each player grabs a ball and takes a shot until a basket is made. Once a basket is made, the player sits. The last shooter standing is out. So, the object is to make a basket as quickly as possible.

Kids having fun playing basketball outside
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Sharks and Minnows

Most sports have a version of this popular game. Sharks and Minnows is best played with a group of kids. Two kids start off as sharks and must prevent the minnows from dribbling end to end by stealing the ball or knocking it out of bounds. The game can also begin with just one shark. When a minnow loses his or her ball, he or she becomes a shark. The winner is the last minnow standing. For the next game, the winning minnow starts off as a shark.

Dribble Limbo

This game is ideal for kids wanting to work on ball control. Two participants hold a limbo rope starting at shoulder length. Kids must dribble under the limbo rope. After each round, the rope is lowered. If a participant can’t control the ball or loses it, he or she is out. The winner is the player who is able to go the lowest while dribbling with control of the ball.

Buzzer Beater

For kids who love to shoot, Buzzer Beater is all about making baskets. To play, participants need at least one basketball and a timer. A smartphone stopwatch works well as a timer. Each player gets 10 seconds to make as many baskets as he or she can. Players shoot individually, not at the same time, and must keep track of their baskets. The winner is the shooter making the most baskets in 10 seconds.

The first baskets were made from peach baskets. Basketball has grown since Naismith first introduced the game in the late 1800s. Naismith coached the University of Kansas’ first basketball team for 10 years, but the team didn’t win too many games.

Today, basketball enthusiasts can visit the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. Young players can have a lot of fun developing their basketball skills on driveways and backyard courts. These six backyard basketball games are ideal for 8-year-olds, kids of all ages, and adults who just love to be outside playing basketball. Basketball may have started indoors in YMCAs across the nation, but basketball is a huge backyard and playground game all year long. Give one or all of these six backyard basketball games a try. The appealing games are ideal for skill development and/or enjoyment.

Dawn Miller
Dawn Miller began her professional life as an elementary school teacher before returning to her first love, writing. In…
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