Have Fun, Get Fit for Basketball!

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Develop your basketball skills and improve your fitness by playing games with your friends.

Summer training shouldn't consist solely of traditional weight room workouts. Instead, gather a group of friends and play some games. Here are two games that not only provide a fun break from your regular routine, but can also help you achieve your basketball performance goals.

Everybody's It
Skills Developed:

Agility, reaction and speed

4 or more

Materials Needed:

Playing Area:
Large open area

The game is played just like tag, except everyone is "It."

•    Athletes spread out randomly over the playing area and await the whistle (or "go" signal).
•    The object of the game is to tag as many players as possible without getting tagged yourself. When an athlete  gets tagged, he or she must immediately drop to the ground and perform five Push-Ups before rejoining the game.
•    If a dispute arises about which athlete was tagged first, both athletes must perform Push-Ups.

•    Perform other conditioning exercises after getting tagged—e.g., Squats, Lunges and Down-Ups.

Z-Ball "21"
Skills Developed:

Agility, reaction, quickness, hand-eye coordination and body-position awareness

2 or more

Playing Area:
Large open area

Materials Needed:
1 or 2 Z-balls (using two or more increases the pace of the game)

•    To begin, a coach or one of the players tosses a Z-ball into the air, varying the direction and height with each throw.
•    The goal is to let the Z-ball bounce as many times as possible before grabbing it. The athlete who grabs the Z-ball gets as many points as the number of bounces.
•    The game continues until one player gets 21 points.
•    If the ball rolls along the ground and no athlete catches it in the air, no points are awarded for that round.

Be aware of safety issues. Institute a rule prohibiting athletes from jumping, making below-the-waist contact or "fouling" another player. Each infraction results in a predetermined point reduction.

More Performance-Improvement Games
Find more enjoyable games to supplement your traditional sports training at the following links. Most of them can be adapted to deliver a total basketball training session.

Volleyball Training Games
Baseball Training Games
Soccer Training Games
Track Training Games
Football Training Games

Source: Dawes, Jay, and Chris Mooney. 101 games and Drills for Conditioning Athletes. Monterey, Calif.: Coaches Choice, 2006.

Mark Roozen, STACK's senior content editor, has been in the strength, conditioning and performance field for more than 28 years. He holds a Master degree in exercise physiology and several certifications as a strength and conditioning coach, including CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT and FNSCA.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock