There is one good thing about life without professional basketball to watch. Memories of driveway and schoolyard games come along to fill the void.
Playing five-on-five basketball is not advisable right now. But remember H-O-R-S-E, Around the World, and Knockout? Part of the beauty of basketball is that it allows for so many games within the game. These mini-games can be a lot of fun, and they can all be played while keeping a safe distance from other players.
Let’s lay down some ground rules. First, although distance should be fairly easy to maintain, if you feel like you can’t, then wear a mask. Make sure everyone brings his or her own basketball and each person touches only that ball. Also, one rule that is not new: hydrate!
Though outdoor courts in Wellfleet and Provincetown remain closed per the town recreation departments, the court at the Field of Dreams in Eastham is open to those wishing to play on a real surface. Those with some extra cash can go online to order a stand-up hoop or a hoop and backboard to pin to the house.
When all else fails, find an old rusty hoop or get a bucket. Attach either to a large rectangular piece of plywood and nail that sucker to a tree or to your house alongside your driveway — setting the rim at 10 feet off the ground would make it official, but any reasonable height will do.
You need at least two people but there’s no limit on how many can play. H-O-R-S-E starts with someone shooting a ball from a position on the court that they choose. If they make it, everyone else in the game has to take the same shot. For those who make the shot, nothing happens. But if you miss, you are given a letter, starting with letter ‘H.’
Once all players have taken that shot, the player who was first to hit it gets to pick a next shot. And by the way, if it happens that everyone misses, then players just take turns; the next player gets to establish a shot and the game continues from there.
If you get all five letters, you’re eliminated. The last person standing wins.
This one is fun because you can take trick shots like bouncing the ball off the ground, shooting from behind the hoop, or tossing the ball around your back.
Around the World
This is a similar game that you can play on your own or with others. It’s easier to just show someone how to play, but I’ll try to explain here using some basketball terms.
Basically, you have to hit 10 shots from different marked positions on the court. Someone starts by shooting a layup on one of the blocks directly under the rim. If they make it, then they take a step back and hit a shot from the dash line that is above the block. From there, as long as they are making shots, they continue — shooting from the elbow of the key, free throw line, opposite elbow of the key, opposite dash line of the key and then the opposite block under the hoop.
After doing that, step out to the three-point line. Hit a corner three, then one from the top of the three-point line, and then another corner three, and you’ll be the winner. In essence, you’re going “around the world” of the court. If you’re not on a real court, then be creative with where to shoot from.
The catch is that you must make each shot in order to move on to the next one. If you miss a shot, you have a choice. You can choose to save your place and let the next person go. Once it’s your turn again you pick up where you left off. Or, you can try a second time. If you make that second try, then you can continue shooting. If you miss your second try, then you must stop, and the next person goes. Once it’s your turn again, no matter where you left off, you have to start from the beginning because you missed both shots.
It’s a strategic game — you have to manage where other players are with their shots. If you miss a shot, will it be better to stay where you are and give the next person an opportunity? Or should you go for a second try to try to catch up to a player who has gotten far ahead?
This game requires at least four to six people and it moves fast. Everyone has his or her own ball. The game starts with players lining up single-file at the top of the three-point line. The first player shoots and the second player does so immediately after. If the first player makes a shot before the second player does, the next person in line shoots, and so on.
But, if the first player misses their shot, they have to grab the rebound and try to get it in before the second player. If the second player makes a basket before the first player does, then the first player is out, and the next two people in line begin shooting.
The gist is, when it’s your turn to shoot, get the ball in the hoop as fast as possible before the player behind you, or before the player in front of you, depending on your position. The object is to knock out every player to win.