- HOME <> NBA History <> Advertise <> About US <> Write for us <> Press -

> General NBA info
> Awards
> Records
> Stats
> Player Facts
> Team Facts
> Other Leagues
> Message Board

Basketball Variants You Should Know About

Basketball is one of the most popular sports in the world, with NBA, EuroLeague and Spain’s Liga ACB becoming increasingly attractive competitions in the world of sports. However, outside the world of professional basketball, the sport has inspired many variations and related activities. These variations have not only become popular amongst amateur players but have also been incorporated into the training routines of professional players. Join us as we go over some interesting alternatives to basketball. 

Variants and their use

Overall, basketball variants refer to games and activities that require similar skills needed to play traditional basketball but have different rules or can be played in different types of settings. While the popularity of the variants listed below can range according to each country, many of these activities have been found beneficial for professional athletes. In fact, given the specific skills that each variant involves, they can be quite useful in helping players enhance their game and work on particular aspects of their performances. 

This is actually a common practice in several sports and forms of entertainment. For instance, football players tend to use teqball tables to improve passing precision, while professional tennis table players often practice by playing around the world, backwards, or multiball table tennis to perfect their reflexes. In the world of online games, professional gamblers can play different blackjack variants to perfect their skills. Nowadays, this is particularly appealing since players can access various forms of casino games, including live dealer games, such as live blackjack online. It is also usual for some of the best chess players to practice by playing rapid and blitz games of chess, but also puzzles and four-way chess variants which allows them to have a more strategic vision of the game. 

Source: Pexels

Water Basketball

This lesser-known basketball variant is practiced in a pool, and it shares some rules of water polo. In this game, ten players are divided into teams of five and the goal is to score points in a floating, sometimes fixed, basket. However, it isn’t as easy as it may seem, as players have limited time to do so, or they lose possession of the ball. This game is usually used to help players work on their balance as they are required to make fast movements inside the water, increase their resistance and fluency of movements and challenge their scoring precision as the basket isn’t always fixed. 


Much like netball, the Twenty-one variant is only played using half the court and with a maximum of four players. However, this variation on traditional basketball is more physically demanding. A player is drawn to start the game with control of the ball and they attempt to score from the Free Throw Line. In case they score they earn two points and continue to throw the ball. In case of failure, all players fight for the offensive rebound (including the one who threw). Whichever player gets the ball must attempt to score. If they do so, they will return to the free-throw line and continue to throw.

The objective is to reach 21 points. However, if you exceed 21, you must continue until you land at 31. In case you exceed 31 you will need to add another ten points until you get it right. In this game, players improve their skills in reading the trajectory of the ball, their physical game, and their shooting accuracy. 

Source: Unsplash


In the Knockout variant, players must line up anywhere near the free-throw line or the three-point arc on the court. Then, a ball is given to the first two players in line and they decide which one goes first. As soon as the first player throws the ball, the second player can also shoot. If the first player gets the point, then he will pass the ball to the third player in the row and so on. If the second player scores before the first, that player is out of the game. However, it is important to highlight that if both players miss, they must catch the rebound and shoot from where they grabbed the ball. The game then continues until there is only one player left. The objective here is to perfect free throws, improve offensive rebounds and work on reflexes. 

While these are some of the lesser-known basketball variants, Airball, Fives, and In and Out are also some interesting options to use during training seasons.