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Variations of basketball are games or activities based on, or similar in origin, to the game of basketball, in which the player utilizes common basketball skills. Some are essentially identical to basketball, with only minor rules changes, while others are more distant and arguably not simple variations but distinct games. Other variations include children's games, contests or activities intended to help the player practice or reinforce skills, which may or may not have a competitive aspect. Most of the variations are played in informal settings, without the presence of referees or other officials and sometimes without strict adherence to official game rules.
Games under these rules are still considered to be basketball, with variant rules suited to the circumstances.
An actual competitive game of basketball can be played with as few as two people. The game may be referred to by the number of people on each team; a six-player game may be referred to as "three-on-three" or "3-v-3" ("v" stands for "versus"). Each team's roster is typically the same size, but an odd number of players may force one team to play with one less player. Sometimes the odd player will be designated as a "switch" player, so that the offensive team always has the extra player.
Roster sizes above five players per team are uncommon even in informal games, as the court generally becomes too crowded to allow movement and space to develop between players.
"Twenty-one" is a game that can be played with two or more players. Each player has their own score, with the winner being the first to reach 21 points. No player has any teammates at any time in the game. The player with the ball may shoot at any time, and may collect his own rebound and shoot again. Whenever a basket is scored, that player receives two points and goes to the free throw line, where each made free throw tacks on another one point to their score. The player is allowed to shoot free throws until he misses, or until he has made 3 in a row, at which point the ball is put back in play, and the sequence starts again. Twenty-one is nearly always played in a half court game.
Spin-offs from basketball that are now separate sports include:
Netball is a limited-contact team sport in which two teams of seven try to score points against one another by placing a ball through a high hoop. Netball was formerly called "women's basketball" but now includes men's teams as well.
Slamball is full-contact basketball, with trampolines. Points are scored by playing the ball through the net, as in basketball, though the point-scoring rules are modified. The main differences from the parent sport is the court; below the padded basketball rim and backboard are four trampolines set into the floor which serve to propel players to great heights for slam dunks. The rules also permit some physical contact between the members of the four-player teams.
The game HORSE (pronounced "horse") is played by two or more players.
The first player with possession of the ball attempts to make a basket. If that player is successful, every subsequent player must attempt to make a basket while using identical technique, stance, and physical location as the first player. If a player fails to make the specified shot, that player is assigned one of five penalty letters. The five letters are H, O, R, S, and E, in that order; the player receives the first letter that he has not already received from a previous round. The round then continues, as every other player needs to attempt the original shot. When a round is complete, the ball passes to the next player in turn, who is allowed to try a new technique, stance, or physical location to begin a new round. It is illegal for the opponent to make noises that may obstruct the opponents shot. When a player has been assessed all five penalty letters, thus spelling the word "horse," that player is eliminated from the game. Rounds are played until all but one player has been eliminated. The remaining player is the winner. One variation states that once a player has received the letter E, that player may choose to either take a second chance at the same shot or have the other person try to "prove" the same shot again. If the player takes the second chance and misses or the original shooter makes the "proof" shot, the person with E is eliminated. If the player with E makes the second chance or the original shooter misses the "proof" shot, the player who had E goes back to S and that person remains in the game. There is no limit for how many times this can happen in a game.
The game is also played as P-I-G ("pig") for a shorter version.
This game is played by 2 or more players. The shooting line is typically the top of the key, but can be moved to the foul line for younger players.
Before the game starts, select an order of play. All players (except the one shooting) should remain behind the shooting line, out of the line of play.
The first player shoots from the shooting line. If the shot is missed, the player must retrieve the rebound, and shoot from the spot that the rebound was retrieved. The other players are not permitted to interfere with either the ball or the player. The player continues to shoot until a basket is made, to a maximum of 5 shots. When the first player has made the shot, the next player begins shooting, again from the shooting line. This player must make the basket in the same number, or fewer shots than the preceding shooter. The next player then shoots, again from the shooting line and must make the basket in the same number, or fewer shots than the player that immediately preceded him\her in shooting.
If a player takes more shots than the player that immediately preceded him\her, a point is added to that player's score. Additionally, if a player is unable to make a basket in 5 shots or less, another point is added to that player's score.
When a player reaches 5 points, he\she is eliminated from the game. When a player is eliminated from the game, the player immediately following that player has up to 5 shots on his\her turn.
The game continues until all but 1 player has been eliminated.
Notes: - Some players become quite creative with the "shoot from where the ball was retrieved" rule, using one foot as a pivot foot, allowing them to adjust their shot. - If the ball is retrieved quite far from the basket, a player may play a "lob shot", advancing the ball closer to the basket, but this counts as a shot taken.
Around the World (sometimes Around the Key) is a basketball variant played by two or more players, who have all agreed upon a turn order. The game requires a sequence of shooting positions to be decided upon. In theory, these positions are arbitrary; in practice, they are most commonly ordered along the 3-point line in equal intervals starting from one of the sides of the basket and including the straight-on center shot (e.g., 0, 30, 60, 90, 120, 150, and 180 degrees along the 3-point line with 90 being the center). This 180-degree semi-circular path is the inspiration for the game's name. The object is to be the first player to make a shot from all positions. Making a shot from a position allows a player to advance to the next position. The rules are very flexible but usually a player keeps advancing until a missed shot. The consequences of missing a shot may vary. Sometimes the game is played such that a missed shot requires the player to start over at the first position. Under this rule, the game may also include another rule that allows a player to "save" their position, and pass the ball to the next player. It is probably most common, however, to play such that each player continues until a missed shot. At this point a player may save his position or elect to take another "chance" shot. If the chance shot is made, the player advances as normal. If it misses, the player's turn ends and they suffer some penalty, perhaps regressing a position or even starting over. Whatever the specifics of the game, when a player makes a successful shot from the final position, the game enters the final stage. Some play such that this player is declared the winner. Other play such that those players who have yet to act on the turn get a chance to tie, which cancels any advantage of going first. There are a multitude of ways the game can be modified. Other variations include: shooting with the off arm, shooting with alternating arms, using the backboard on every shot (except those directly to the side of the basket), or having positions around the key or even under the basket.
Lightning or Knockout is played by 2 or more players and requires 2 basketballs. All players line up behind the selected shooting point, typically the center of the free throw line or the top of the key. The first player in line shoots. If he misses, he rebounds the ball and continues shooting until he makes a goal. Once the first player throws the ball for his first attempt, the second player may make his first attempt. The goal of the first player is to make a basket before the second player does. If so, the first player recovers the ball and passes it to the next player in line. The goal of the second player is to make a basket before the first player does. If so, the first player is out and play stops until both balls have been returned to the players in line. Once the now first and second players each have a ball, play resumes. This pattern follows until all players have been eliminated except one, who is declared the winner. Typically a new game then starts with everyone lining up at the same shooting point according to the order they were eliminated, with the winner in the front of the line and the first person eliminated in the back of the line.
Double dribbling and traveling are generally not enforced, as the goal is to make baskets as quickly as possible. It is common for the bumping of an opponent's ball further away from the basket, but some players discourage this behavior. It is also common for a player to throw their ball up through the bottom of the hoop to knock the opponent's ball out and away. Again some players consider this to be poor sportsmanship.